Simple human decency, love and fellowship, and justice, sweet justice, demand a radical overhaul not just in U.S. Immigration Law but in the attitudes of millions of Native-born Americans: predominantly white, toward immigration.
We go first to Arizona and take on the idea that the very people who so many see as lazy, seeking only public services, and who go on crime sprees actually do.
Economics: Let’s look at some cold, hard and unforgiving facts. It won’t be pleasant to immigration’s critics. According to the Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center just the undocumented, illegal immigrants there are responsible for the following:
Paid $2.8 billion in taxes.
Added $23.5 billion in Arizona’s gross state domestic product
Pre-tax earnings for the undocumented: $15 billion.
Output and spending that created 581,000 jobs in Arizona.
If Arizonans in that blaze of patriotism and law and order boot these people out they will see:
581,000 fewer jobs in the state, a 17.2 percent decrease
A 10.1 percent cut in tax revenues
$48. 8 billion less in economic activity in the state.
Legalize those folks, and keep them around and you get:
Increase employment by 7.7 percent adding 261,000 new jobs for all Arizonans.
a labor income increase of $5.6 billion
$1.68 billion in increased tax revenues.
These figures do not include the large number of legal, hard-working and law abiding immigrant citizens in the state who add still more! Perhaps Arizona and the rest of the nation where economic reports would show much the same picture don’t need jobs, tax revenue for their state, increased economic activity and the like. That must explain the support for harsh immigration laws for Arizona and now Wisconsin and other states. But the tide may be about to turn and people are beginning to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
If you’re not scratching your head in puzzlement at this new information there is not much in there.
So you want law and order: Police that have to be constantly checking to see if someone is here illegally, without proper documentation, might not be able to respond to your frantic call when someone robs your business, or when there’s just been a car accident, or you are witnessing an assault or any serious crime no one has trouble understanding is a crime.
According to Fox News Latino, Illinois lawmakers, county sheriffs, and civil rights activists held a press conference this past Monday about the Homeland Security Department’s Secure Communities Program. “This program has driven a wedge between the community and the police,” Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights is quoted as saying.
The program permits the FBI to take police fingerprints and match them up with their data bases. Anybody, even mirgrants without any criminal record, get turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. In McHenry County, the program discloses that eighty-two percent of those arrested were not criminals. We beg to remind the reader that in America, you are innocent until proven guilty. Do you think the Fox News Anglo dominated morning news hosts provide this information and discuss it rationally? It is the first time, Struggles For Justice has approvingly quoted Fox News on anything! What a moment.
The Chicago Tribune has reported that sheriff’s deputies in McHenry County systematically used racial profiling and then changed the statistics they keep to cover it up.
The Racine Journal Times of Wisconsin notes Donald Pridemore’s bill and the interest of some Wisconsin lawmakers in a harsh Arizona approach to immigration with disapproval. They say it best in regard to what making targets of immigrants does to law enforcement in the real world and not in the world of the Glenn Beck’s or Fox News or Rush Limbaughs:
“Regardless of when checks are required, what most people will understand is that police are required to check, and then people who fear deportation and who have information about a crime will become as quiet as clams. Crimes will not be reported for fear of deportation; crimes will not be solved for lack of information; crimes against citizens will also not be solved because crucial links in a crime spree will be missing.”
But what about the deeper moral and ethical questions related to immigration and how we as Americans treat foreigners, strangers, visitors, and anyone with a yellow or brown or black skin who also is new to our shores and has crossed our borders, even if that is in violation of the law?
At the heart of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States is the naked face of racial and ethnic prejudice. It is the fear some Americans have for strangers when times are bad and they are under constant stress and life’s setbacks smack them in the face.
Struggles For Justice says it loud and clear: this is a place, this blog, this news and opinion source, that is undocumented immigrant and just plain immigrant friendly. We stand for all those who come here to make a new life. We do not support those who come to harm our citizens. Nearly all of the undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin, about 100,000 according to 2010 data, would agree. Count on that.
What is needed on the Federal level is action, and action now! It is time to take all those who are here and make them fit into three categories: those that wish to work here become guest-workers legally and get on with their labors. Those who have any interest in American citizenship in that group of course would get on a path to citizenship as do legal migrants. Those undocumented immigrants who have been here for five, ten, fifteen or twenty years or longer and whose children speak superb English and can translate for you what their wonderful parents are saying to you are already Americans. And many of those children are in Iraq, Afghanistan, and so many other places and they are dying for us in military service. Let’s make it official!
And let’s increase the numbers of legal entrants into the United States by the customary means. Let’s thank every single legal immigrant for following the law and doing all that is required to become a citizen. Then, we can talk about shutting off and closing our borders. We would then have the moral credibility to do so for the first time.
For people of faith, I challenge you to show me that God stops at the border. We live together in love and compassion for one another and are called to be servants to each other. It is time we lived that way and not just heard that as empty words uttered in our churches from time-to-time.
And here’s something Americans born here rarely think about: how lucky they are that people want to come to the United States and be citizens so badly that they are willing to circumvent the nation’s laws to get here, risking their lives to do so, and to stay here as long as they can.
Struggles For Justices welcomes the immigrant with no qualifications other than that those few newcomers who commit personal injury or property crimes be prosecuted to the fullest extent of our laws or be immediately deported. The rest honor us with their choice to come and be with us to work, to live, to laugh, to play, to become who we want to be as human beings, and yes, please, let them choose to become American citizens. We need them in every way. They make us stronger and better. We support them and we love them!