Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Immigration Rant

I just received a day's worth of emails from a listserv packaged together so that I only have to get one email instead of a bajillion emails. In the email was a conversation about the immigration march that was held yesterday, Monday, in and around Union Square in New York City. The poster wrote about her justification for supporting immigration rights because "they are the only ones willing to do the crappy jobs no one else wants to do." And, this is the justification for support for immigrants and illegal aliens.

Now I realize this is a complicated issue and I don't have a solution that fits all the many faceted concerns surrounding immigration. I do know that I hope we can come up with a viable solution that honors the contributions of all the immigrants while at the same time providing a workable framework that offers qualifications for those who want to contribute to the American experience (which is all about taking in immigrants into the melting pot of our identity, heck, that is what this country has "always" been about, right?) and at the same time minimizes abuse.

What gripes me is that I have yet to hear one single argument for immigrants that deals with the ideal of human betterment and/or recognizing that we are all part of the same human family. Nor, have I heard an argument from Americans regarding the justice issue--meaning, we owe immigrants for their valuable efforts and labor. Perhaps the argument that says they do jobs we won't do, is akin to the justice issue but, from the tone of it, that argument sounds so condescending.

I'd love to hear a sermon about what happens to a country that despises its immigrants and refuses to be hospitable to those who need our help when they need it (read: Sodom and Gomorrah. God burnt down those cities when its residents weren't hospitable to strangers, cf: Ezekiel 16:48-49). I heard someone the other day say how angry they are that immigrants can receive hospital care in the event they have a life-threatening situation but that if this person ever had problems, since she has no medical insurance, she couldn't get the same treatment that an illegal immigrant could get. So, that is why she is against all illegal immigrants.

So I told her that hospitals have as a policy that they cannot turn away someone in a life-threatening situation regardless of whether they were an illegal immigrant or a US citizen without medical insurance. And, that if she has medical problems and cannot afford to go to a doctor that she could go to a free clinic (they are all over town). She looked at me rather stunned and said, "Well, yeah, but you can't get great service from a clinic." To which I responded, "Well, maybe, but they can help you if you have no other choice." In the end, she agreed that everyone deserves medical care in emergency situations--I am assuming she thinks that way because now she knows she can get it too.

What is WRONG with us?! I am amazed during any and all of these debates when I hear Christians say the meanest and nastiest of things. You want to wear a bracelet and ask, "What would Jesus do?" And then turn into this ugly uncompassionate human being when it comes to immigrants working their asses off while supporting our way of life? Okay, so you don't think that way... but many folks do and it's time we start raising our prophetic voices in support of a way of life that honors all who work and live on our shores.

And regardless of what flavor of faith you come from, this is an issue of human justice--not self-righteous American patriotism (read: nationalism and idolatry!).

1 comment:

Paul said...


I'm thinking you got possessed by the spirit of Al Sharpton on this one (and I actually mean that in a good way). Preach it, bro.