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Ugly, Sad, and Tough | by Duane Shank

posted by God's Politics

Issues related to immigration are in the news this week. A new study finds that immigrants from Mexico and Central America are now “living under a dramatically increased sense of siege.” A poll reported in the study found that “More than one-third of Central Americans and 30 percent of Mexicans said their biggest problem in the United States was discrimination, compared with single-digit responses for similar questions in 2004, and 83 percent of Mexicans and 79 percent of Central Americans said this year that discrimination was rising.”


The McClatchy Newspapers report quoted Sergio Bendixen, founder of the Miami-based Bendixen & Associates, who conducted the study: “What I have found is both ugly and sad. There are millions of Latin American immigrants, especially those living in the deep South and the upper Midwest, whose lives have been made miserable by the anti-immigrant sentiment that is now so prevalent in so many geographic areas.”


As a result of Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, that sentiment is now playing out with states and local jurisdictions passing harsh anti-immigrant legislation. The Los Angeles Times reports that nearly 200 state laws have been passed so far in 2007, with the trend being toward more restrictive measures. But, as Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute said: “The problem is these local measures are not going to deliver control. It’s probably not going to work, but it will make life miserable for a lot of people.” Not only have these restrictive measures been proven consistently unconstitutional, but the enforcement of such a patchwork of conflicting local ordinances would be unpractical and create increasingly divided communities.



Not to be outdone, the federal Department of Homeland Security is planning tough new rules on the hiring of illegal immigrants. And according to The New York Times, “Officials said the rules would be backed up by stepped-up raids on workplaces across the country that employ illegal immigrants.” A spokesman for DHS added, “We are tough and we are going to be even tougher.”


Ugly, sad, and tougher. With the failure of Congress to enact a fair and just immigration system, that’s what we’ve come to. More raids on workplace and more families separated. It’s time to remember and act on our fundamental beliefs as people of faith, as the Statement of Principles of Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform puts it:



  • We believe that all people, regardless of national origin, are made in the “image of God” and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6).
  • We believe there is an undeniable biblical responsibility to love and show compassion for the stranger among us (Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Leviticus 19:33-34, Matthew 25:31-46).
  • We believe that immigrants are our neighbors, both literally and figuratively, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and show mercy to neighbors in need (Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:25-37).
  • We believe in the rule of law, but we also believe that we are to oppose unjust laws and systems that harm and oppress people made in God’s image, especially the vulnerable (Isaiah 10:1-4, Jeremiah 7:1-7, Acts 5:29, Romans 13:1-7).



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Comments read comments(18)
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Wolverine

posted August 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm


I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this, but I’ll ask anyway: were the immigrants that Bendixen surveyed here legally or illegally?
Wolverine



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Moderatelad

posted August 10, 2007 at 2:19 pm


Posted by: Wolverine | August 10, 2007 1:48 PM
Just what I was thinking – you think we will get a truthful answer?
Have a great weekend!
.



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Duane Shank

posted August 10, 2007 at 2:39 pm


Of course you’ll get a truthful answer.
Of the Mexicans surveyed,
21% US citizens
25% legal residents
51% undocumented
Central Americans surveyed,
15% US citizens
32% legal residents
52% undocumented
So, in both cases, about 50-50.
See the Inter-American Development Bank press release
http://www.iadb.org/news/articledetail.cfm?artID=3985&language=EN&arttype=PR
And the survey at
http://www.iadb.org/news/docs/remitmex.pdf



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Moderatelad

posted August 12, 2007 at 12:25 am


OK – so if I were to put together a survey about the prisons in America. Then have a cross section of those survery be…
15% people how had never been in prison
32% those you had been there for less than 2 years
52% those currently in there.
do you think that I would get a viable score regardless of what I want to prove?
Have a great day
.



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Sarasotakic

posted August 12, 2007 at 4:33 am


I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this, but I’ll ask anyway: were the immigrants that Bendixen surveyed here legally or illegally?Wolverine
The implication being, of course, that if they are here illegally, they should feel under siege.



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Wolverine

posted August 12, 2007 at 5:19 pm


The implication being, a majority of those polled were here illegally, but the author didn’t feel the need to mention that.
It would be interesting to get a look at the cross-tabs. Five bucks says that legal immigrants were much less likely to feel “under siege” than illegals.
Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted August 12, 2007 at 6:41 pm


Actually, the poll doesn’t ask siege-related questions one way or the other. It simply asks whether immigrants are sending money back home, how much they are remitting, and what is affecting that number.
Pablo Banchalet takes the information and crafts a de facto op-ed that is unsupported by the data. Bad journalism, in other words.
There is nothing in the polling data to establish a sense of siege, or the dramatic increase thereof. This is simply Bachalet’s opinion as to what the data supports.
According to the poll data that has actually been obtained, the largest impediment to finding work for immigrants is a lack of documentation, and a third of immigrants feel discriminated against. Whether discrimination amounts to siege probably depends on what that discrimination entails.



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MJCIV

posted August 13, 2007 at 6:49 am


I know the author means well, and that the default position in this article is compassion for “the least of these,” who in this case are illegal immigrants, but…enough is enough. The United States can’t continue to absorb millions of low skilled, non-English speaking people each and every year. There is no nation on earth that can do what we are being asked to do: open our borders and allow whoever and how-many-ever, people to come in. It’s simply not workable. In the last twenty years, we’ve taken in 36 million immigrants (compare that with the period from 1600 to 1960s, we took in a total of 42 million…that’s 360 years!). After the “Great Wave” migrations of the late 19th and early 20th century (when my family came here), the US stopped immigration almost entirely from the 1920s to the 1950s in order to absorb, and assimilate, our new citizens. We need to do something very similar again.
I have great pity for illegals who are being made to feel unwelcome here, but we need to 1)lock the southern border, and 2)figure out how to deal with those who are already here illegally, in that order. We are a sovereign nation, and we have the duty/right to decide who we allow in to our country.
I’m sorry, Mr. Shank. I know you have good intentions. This is a lose-lose for all of us–native born, legal, and illegal in this country because we’ve allowed a situation to develop where there are no good options (sound familiar?)
Peace, friends
MJCIV



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francesca

posted August 13, 2007 at 5:27 pm


No matter what and how you personally feel about illegal bodies in this country – the fact is they are doing an awful lot of the work that I do not see “Americans” of any color doing. Hard hard work, poor wages but hey it’s better than starving in your own country. This is a bountiful country – let’s do something loving instead of hateful. Can you imagine yourself in a country where you cannot get enough to feed your family? Of course you cannot, but try anyway and see what you think you would do!!
love, brother/sister



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MJCIV

posted August 13, 2007 at 9:14 pm


I don’t blame a starving man for coming to a country where there is food, or a poor man for coming to a place where there is wealth. I blame the people who are keeping him poor and hungry in his own land. Mexico is a disaster. We are not responsible for their millions of poverty stricken citizens. I’m sorry to sound harsh, but that’s how it is. The Mexican government actively encourages their poorest, most vulnerable people to come to the US. That way, Mexico doesen’t have to deal with them. Is that just? Is that fair to the poor Mexicans? To the United States?
It may make people feel good to talk about welcoming the stranger, but when we are talking about tens of millions of strangers, the time has come for some reasoned policy making, not wishful thinking.
Immigrants–legal and illegal–work very hard. Let’s encourage them to work hard in Mexico and change their corrupt, third-world, criminal government so that they don’t have to come to the US to survive, and so that they don’t have to feel beset by “a state of seige” when Americans do something radical, like enforce our own laws.



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Cindy

posted August 14, 2007 at 1:11 am


In reference to “we are not responsible” I disagree. Yes, the Mexican government should do more to take care of their citizens, but you need to research the affect NAFTA has had on the citizens of Mexico. When we take away their ability to earn a living, does that not make us responsible? Too many Americans are getting rich off these peoples’ backs–it might be legal, but it surely not moral.



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MJCIV

posted August 14, 2007 at 6:49 am


Mexico’s catastrophic failure to modernize and function precede NAFTA by many, many decades, Cindy. What we took from Mexico by war (which is the exact same way the Spanish speakers took Mexico from the Indios) is now being taken back from us by demographics. I feel great pity for anyone who is poor and struggling to get by, in America or anywhere else, but unless we enforce our border, identify who is here, and change our policies, the situation will continue to deteriorate. Have you seen the footage of the Minutemen in San Diego harassing people going into a Catholic Church because the parish was being kind to illegal workers? Yelling, screaming, fighting; it was awful. That’s the future unless something changes. “Welcoming the stranger” is treating the symptoms. The disease is our unregulated southern border. Fix that and things will get much easier for everyone involved.



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jerry

posted August 14, 2007 at 8:41 pm


francesca; mexico is a bountiful country. i know it well and think that opportunity and corruption runs rampant there. cindy; talk to your mexican politicians. we have bad politicians here just like mexico. throw the rascals out. the mexicans need to suck it up and do something to help themselves.
right on mjciv.
shanks bible thunping for christians for comprehensive immigration reform, inc.com. is sojo for why can’t everyone just get along. nothing real, no real solutions. sojo mojo.
immigration is my hot button. come to tucson and find the truth. there is a war on the horizon unless someone solves the border problem.



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Timbuktoo

posted August 15, 2007 at 8:14 pm


“Mexico’s catastrophic failure to modernize and function precede NAFTA by many, many decades, Cindy.”
Look at the statistics- illegal immigration greatly increased after NAFTA. We have contributed to the problem whether you would like to admit it or not.
“Have you seen the footage of the Minutemen in San Diego harassing people going into a Catholic Church because the parish was being kind to illegal workers? Yelling, screaming, fighting; it was awful.”
It is the product of irresponsible conservative radio talk show hosts who are whipping up anti-immigrant fervor.



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MJCIV

posted August 16, 2007 at 6:53 am


That ‘we’ have contributed to the problem is undeniable, and by ‘we’ I mean all Americans–myself included–who benefit from cheap, illegal labor. Ultimately this issue comes down to compassion vs. reason, at least for me.
I would challenge your assertion about ‘right wing radio’ being responsible for the current immigration debates, but…why?
Peace out, friends.
MJCIV



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Phana24JG

posted August 16, 2007 at 8:19 pm


I have to laugh at the author referring to illegal aliens as “undocumented.” Perhaps he considers Charles Manson and Ted Bundy to be unconscienced.” Calling an illegal alien an undocumented immigrant is like calling a drug dealer an unlicensed pharmacist.



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Julie in VA with an AZ heart

posted August 17, 2007 at 2:45 pm


“No matter what and how you personally feel about illegal bodies in this country – the fact is they are doing an awful lot of the work that I do not see “Americans” of any color doing. Hard hard work, poor wages but hey it’s better than starving in your own country. This is a bountiful country – let’s do something loving instead of hateful. ”
“Americans”, i.e., citizens or foreign workers here on visas, don’t do ‘an awful lot of the work’ you mention because the employers SEEK OUT people willing to work for wages that citizens can’t live on.
I personally think it’s loving, and not hateful, to pay people a living wage for their work. I think it’s racist to say that illegal immigrants “do the work Americans won’t do”; what you’re really saying is “Oh, let the brown-skinned people from down there do that work…they’ll do it for pennies on the dollar.”
I think it’s possible to be pro-peace and justice, and anti-illegal immigration, at the same time for a lot of reasons, one of which is the living wage & employer greed issue.
Another is the earth, and it’s & our health and safety. There are whole parts of Southern Arizona that are unusable and unlivable, including over half of Organ Pipe National Monument, which is a park that our tax dollars support, due to drug cartel activity and human smuggling. Go to Organ Pipe and get a pamphlet from the visitors’ center telling you which parts of the park are too dangerous to use. It shocked me when I was in the park over 2 years ago to photograph spring flowers, and realized I couldn’t use most of the park!
The Sonoran desert is being literally trashed with the bodily refuse, discarded clothing & backpacks of illegal border crossers.
The University of Arizona has a program of study of the Sonoran Desert. They have to get huge grants every year to pay for armed guards to accompany the grad students into the desert to do their work, because it’s too dangerous to be out there in what should be the peace of God’s creation.
On the other hand, I, too, feel sadness for people who would cross that desert at any time of year, day or night, for an opportunity to work. It’s a scary enough place, with rattlesnakes and scorpions under every other rock, without having to imagine dying of thirst or being raped under a palo verde tree by a gang. Yes, there are rape trees in the desert, with multiple pairs of panties hanging from them where the men have committed unspeakable crimes against the women and girls who cross, not knowing what they’re in for.
I think it’s time we looked at the issue from a perspective that simply seeks out the truth, and does not conform to pre-conceived notions of Left or Right, Republican or Democrat. Only then can we find a solution.



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Bonnie

posted August 18, 2007 at 2:22 pm


I think the discrimination of the Latino people is wrong; and work hard not to discriminate against them. However, as an American Indian, who had relatives of my parents’ generation actually thrown in jail or beat up if they spoke their native language, I get irritated with the many Latinos who seem to think that I need to learn their language to communicate with them. And, if I do not learn their language, I am accused of discriminating against them. I feel my people have already learned one foreign language, I don’t need to learn another. Additionally, all previous immigrants never thought twice about learning English when they arrived. While I am not necessarily for making it a law that every one has to speak English, I just think that any one who comes to this country and plans to stay better be prepared to learn English. And, I remind all non-American Indians to take a lesson from us and take note of what happened to my people because we learned the foreigners’ language and did not make them learn ours.



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