God's Politics

God's Politics


Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)

posted by God's Politics

When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, “way to pick an easy topic.” Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago have jumped on the bandwagon with their enforcement-only colleagues. Even a recent C-SPAN radio caller’s biggest concern about the children’s healthcare plan was: “Those illegal aliens better not have access to S-CHIP money.” It saddens and exhausts me. I ask myself, “Why do I keep working for a cause that is so controversial, and often so negative?”



I recently had a very clear reminder of why I do. Four farm workers–Eduviges Gonzales, Silvia Huerta, Bautista Zamora, and Estela Ferrer–came to lobby Congress for a path to citizenship for their undocumented coworkers. Three are U.S. citizens and one is a legal permanent resident. They were part of an effort organized by numerous farm worker groups, including the United Farm Workers – the union founded by César Chávez.


Each of them spoke about shortages of workers creating big problems in the fruit and vegetable fields around the country. Then, they began to share their personal stories. Eduviges proudly held up her hand to show off a large callous on her palm below her middle finger and began her testimony:



This is proof of my hard work and dedication to this country. I have worked harvesting mushrooms in Salinas, California for 19 years. I am so proud of my work because I know that every mushroom I pick goes to the mouth of someone who needs to be nourished. I feel this very strongly in my heart.


At that point, tears began to roll down her cheeks, but her voice stayed remarkably strong. She went on:



I am here today because of our children. They see ICE detaining people on the evening news. My son asks me, “Why are they taking that person away? Did they pick bad lettuce or bad strawberries?” His fear weighs on my heart and I don’t know what to tell him.


The congressional staffer was clearly moved. I explained that the bill we were supporting – AgJOBS – would put qualified farm workers on a path to permanent residency. It’s just one piece of an incredibly complex issue facing this country. But for farm workers who have been slaving in our fields for years, it would be a tremendous step toward personal and economic security.


As we were going to dinner, Silvia asked me if I would be going back to live in California with my family. I told her that I lived in Washington, D.C., because I was working for comprehensive immigration reform, and it’s important to have strong advocates here in the capital. “Oh, yes!” she responded, “in that case, we need you to stay right here. We need all the help we can get!”


Her words have been sinking in. Suddenly, my work in this long-term struggle for immigration reform seems like the obvious choice.


Patty Kupfer is the Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform campaign coordinator at Sojourners.



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N.M Rod

posted October 16, 2007 at 2:20 pm


As long as people are divided from others, they will be divided from themselves and separated from God.



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A guy

posted October 16, 2007 at 2:54 pm


Did Eduviges tell congress that Salinas, California is one of the most Mexican-gang infested cities in “America?” The violence and drugs in that small American town is staggering.
Porque or por que?
And S-CHIP money going for the children of “Mexican” migrants living in this country legally or illegally . . . Ms. Kupfer, work to have MEXICO send America a few billion dollars a year to cover the cost of its citizens living here in America. That should end all of the hostility in Americans’ voices.
Comprende?
Donny



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N.M. Rod

posted October 16, 2007 at 3:42 pm


For the life of me, I can’t understand why people bother posting on a Christian blog when they are so filled with spreading division and venting hostility for others.
As long as we insist on dividing, we remain divided within our own selves, deluded with hatred and greed, which makes it impossible to be reconciled to God and in harmony with Him.
Life is short. At the end, when our own ends, what will we have done for all of us that live on, and thus, for Him?



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e-dubya

posted October 16, 2007 at 4:22 pm


This is certianly a tough issue. Thanks for the article and the story. Immigration seems to have no easy answers but something needs to be done. Part of me wishes that we could help create a economically sound Mexico, because then many would not need to leave the country of their birth and their heritage to find a “fair” and decent life. But if I were born in Mexico, I would not want to stay living in Mexico with the fear of being abused by law enforcement and with no help from an increasingly corrupt government structure. Just so sad. I wish Christians who favored strict reform would still have compassion on people for whom their situation is not really their fault (being born in a country is not something you choose… we just happen to be blessed to be born in the US)…



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wayne

posted October 16, 2007 at 4:36 pm


Thank you for this story. It is always good to put a face on the issue.
Attitudes like Donny boy’s are not surprising. There have been many times in the past when we actually sought out Mexican citizens to come here to work. Even when we thought we needed them we did not treat them as equals.
To all the Donny’s out there;
May your attitude change, and if not, may your food bills go through the roof.



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Robert Burgess

posted October 16, 2007 at 4:36 pm


As the grandson of poor farmer immigrants from what is now the Czech Republic, I cannot understand the mean spirited comments that our brothers and sisters from our southern neighbors have to deal with. In Michigan, hard working people work in the fields picking grapes, berries, and other crops. Many also wash dishes and bus tables.
The World Bank figures show that there are literally tens of millions of people in Latin America who live on less than $2 per day. The problem of illegal immigration will never go away as long as we deny this fact.
While I agree with the need for border security to prevent drug smuggling and other criminal activity, I fail to see how a policy of security only solves the issue.
Instead of just investing billions of dollars in a border fence, couldn’t we invest billions of dollars in micro loans to allow small business start ups south of the border, or invest in programs like Oxfam and CARE to assist villagers improve their living conditions, or send thousands of Peace Corps volunteers south of our border to help train and assist?
Vaya con Dios, Ms. Kupfer. Thank you for so eloquently reminding us of what true dignity means.



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Bud Duncan

posted October 16, 2007 at 4:39 pm


“And S-CHIP money going for the children of “Mexican” migrants living in this country legally or illegally . . . Ms. Kupfer, work to have MEXICO send America a few billion dollars a year to cover the cost of its citizens living here in America. That should end all of the hostility in Americans’ voices.”
Thank you for weighing in Kevin s.



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kevin s.

posted October 16, 2007 at 5:30 pm


“Thank you for weighing in Kevin s.”
I don’t weigh in on this issue because I have yet to see a conversation worth having. Mostly, it consists of hissy, mindless comments (like yours) and ad hitlerum attacks.
If the pro-immigration side wants to move the needle, they should find better ambassadors for their ideas.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 16, 2007 at 5:39 pm


Because differing opinions occur among Christians concerning a healthy way for immigration to occur is NOT reason to condemn the ones who disagree as divisive or non Christian ?
Of course it is best for America , and always has been for our borders to reamain open to those who want to live here . What is best for America is what will allow us to continue to allow people to want and be able to move here .
In my state there is such a strong envirnomental lobby that is supported by the legislators here , fewer and fewer people are able to afford to where I live . But their reasoning is PLANNED GROWTH . They call it smart growth . I find it ironic that if you stop people , especially the poorer among us from living in parts of the country you call it smart growth , but not allowing unplanned and illegal immigration you call it divisive .
Can’t we just have a system that allows for growth and keeps our water, schools and other utilities from not being overburdened till the growth is allowed for ?
Why is this an unchristian view ?



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squeaky

posted October 16, 2007 at 6:42 pm


“Can’t we just have a system that allows for growth and keeps our water, schools and other utilities from not being overburdened till the growth is allowed for ? ”
It’s difficult to have unplanned growth and keep our water, schools, and utilities from being overburdened–hence the “smart growth” paradigm.



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squeaky

posted October 16, 2007 at 6:43 pm


Or is that what you are saying? Maybe I read it wrong…



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Anonymous

posted October 16, 2007 at 6:47 pm


“Can’t we just have a system that allows for growth and keeps our water, schools and other utilities from not being overburdened till the growth is allowed for ?
Why is this an unchristian view ?” Mick
Just to be concise, because of this.
“And S-CHIP money going for the children of “Mexican” migrants living in this country legally or illegally . . . Ms. Kupfer, work to have MEXICO send America a few billion dollars a year to cover the cost of its citizens living here in America. That should end all of the hostility in Americans’ voices.”



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N.M. Rod

posted October 16, 2007 at 7:13 pm


Most of Mexico and Canada’s oil goes not to their own domestic markets, (and not accruing obviously to those forced to leave their own homes in Mexico to come where they’re not wanted,) but to America, so that the American way of life can continue unabated, so that being uncharitable and superior can be done by those so inclined by their natures without much more sacrifice than the patriotism of “keep on shopping.”



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OnTay

posted October 16, 2007 at 7:20 pm


Most of the comments here are so refreshing to hear. Sojourner’s agenda in general was a great discovery. It’s so easy to fall into the trap to believe that American Christianity consist more of an collective unconsciousness consisting more of ethnocentricity, racism and beligerent patriotism–aligned to a particular party, when there are actually christians who have a conscious and see all people as an opportunity to serve God, whether their black, illegal or muslim. The negative comments don’t help the stereotype for those who might otherwise come to know God if they didn’t associate Christianity with these type of people who claim Jesus, yet promote unchristian-like values when it comes to anything outside of their comfort zone. Jesus was right “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…” I hear hatred and apathy masked by a distorted desire to “protect our country” and “lift the burden…”



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N.M. Rod

posted October 16, 2007 at 7:20 pm


It doesn’t matter to the facts much whether or not someone says I’m a Christian or not and decides to personally excommunicate me for failure to hew to a particular ideology. I can hardly take offense whether I am judged to be so or not by people I do not know. It only matters between me and God and there I cannot hide or lie and I assume that is the same for anyone.



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anony

posted October 16, 2007 at 7:35 pm


“And S-CHIP money going for the children of “Mexican” migrants living in this country legally or illegally . . . Ms. Kupfer, work to have MEXICO send America a few billion dollars a year to cover the cost of its citizens living here in America. That should end all of the hostility in Americans’ voices.”
Undocumented immigrants pay billions per year into our failing social security system, alone.
And since when do people who work in the United States, contribute to our economy and pay taxes, not have a right to health care or education for their children?
Here’s another American voice who supports comprehensive immigration reform. Our laws simply haven’t kept up with the times, and, it’s time for America to take responsibility for the people whose labor we benefit from.



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Trent

posted October 16, 2007 at 7:38 pm


I can’t imagine why anyone would oppose the proposal to develop a pathway for people who are legally arriving in your country for work to become permanent residents or even citizens.
There will certainly be disagreement as to what that pathway would look like. It must be pleasant to live in a country that so many people admire and want to share in.
Be Blessed,



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 16, 2007 at 8:36 pm


Or is that what you are saying? Maybe I read it wrong…
Posted by: squeaky
Appears to me the right is saying hold off on illegal immigration primaryily because the growth is not planned for or able to be assorbed in some of the areas .
The left appears not as concerned about that but more concerned about the needs of those illegals. Not over the long range needs of the community that they have settled in .
I really don’t think is an issue that Jesus has picked a side . Even those try to do that .
America has always gotten stronger because we allowed people to come here , despite some views on this site , we have become an example of freedom and opportunity because of the love of freedom and opportunity that are inside those who come here . Having an avenue to be here legal is important , but it needs to be planned and fair .
Why is that an opinion that is based in hate , or why is the opinion of reaching out to those poor individuals who are so poor and desperate that they risked all to come here illegally .
Seems like a very complicated issue to me.



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JamesMartin

posted October 16, 2007 at 8:44 pm


Can’t we just have a system that allows for growth and keeps our water, schools and other utilities from not being overburdened till the growth is allowed for ? Why is this an unchristian view ? Posted by: Mick Sheldon
Mick, I think you’re on to something. There is the perception, at least that immigration is the culprit in over-burdening our hospitals, schools, etc. I would posit that the true problem arises from the diversion of resources in these areas to military spending.
If there is one part of the debate that the conservatives have won, it is the need to secure our borders. In my opinion, the liberals carry the day when they call for the humane treatment of those already here.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 16, 2007 at 9:12 pm


Adventurism and unfair economic deals across the seas, backed by enormous military projection abroad, all of which cause great resentment there and fear of blowback here are the consequent reasons for wanting the counterproductive increased border security with the two friendly nations to the North and South. The harder we push them, the more they will be inclined and even forced to look for favorable economic and political alliances elsewhere rather than with us.
Moreover, it’a a tried-and-true fact of historical governance for any power to cover up unpopularity and failure domestically by conjuring up foreign demons to distract and blame, which also has the political expediency of allowing dissent and questioning to be suppressed as unpatriotic.
The church needs to not be in bed with these tired political cliches, of whatever humanistic stripe, running the gamut from uber-patriotism to the blame-America-firsters.
Those who know Him have to speak and act prophetically for what He has placed us here for, to act out the highest humanistic ideals, to be servants even as He came as, to be our brother’s keepers.



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Roger

posted October 16, 2007 at 9:36 pm


We do have the right to have a border.
But there is no right to someone else’s property or time, therefore there is no right to health care.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 16, 2007 at 10:07 pm


“But there is no right to someone else’s property or time, therefore there is no right to health care.”
Or to anything at all, not just health care.
This means then that any sort of taxation or commons is wrong – roads, water, public utilities, social security – nothing.
We are then obligated not to have any community organisation for anything. This means military or other service to community and country as well.
This is simply an argument for the moral right to complete selfishness
as a first principle.
Practically speaking, then, there is no moral difference between those who choose greed or those who choose otherwise?
Now this may be libertarianism, or even a thinly-disguised plea to conservative pre-eminence for keeping what was already taken from others.
Probably the latter, for the former position has never existed not ever will in human society. We have to make do with community as we find it.
Since money – trillions of it – is going to be spent communally, we owe it to conscience and God to allocate it where it does positive good for the benefit of all, instead of where it mostly does go, to special interests.



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bren

posted October 16, 2007 at 10:42 pm


I don’t understand the depth of animosity some people feel towards Mexican workers. What does amaze me is that people here forget that the reason there are so many poor Mexican workers is NAFTA–which gives preferential financial benefits to the U.S.
Mexicans would stay in Mexico if there were work that received reasonable pay. However, the zones established just inside the Mexican borders because of NAFTA enable Mexicans to work in sweatshop conditions creating more stuff for American companies.
So while you get all indignant about Mexican workers in the U.S. do at least remember the U.S. government’s role in creating Mexican poverty!



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N.M. Rod

posted October 16, 2007 at 11:02 pm


People just have to find other people to hate – it’s how they’re made.
It doesn’t much matter who they are, either, only that someone can be found to satisfy that deep-seated need.
Since no one wants to admit that, justifications have to be found to mask that very primal need.



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melissa

posted October 16, 2007 at 11:15 pm


The issues is often framed as a supply-side issue: “They come because they are poor and have no/few/worse opportunities”. This is half the equation.
Immigration, while meant to be governed by certain national boundaries (or regional, in the case of the European Union) is also a market. A market for labour where there is demand and supply.
In this sense, we should also look at the other side: why is it that there is such great supply for “cheap labour” – which is what these migrants are reduced to. They may be dignified human beings and children of God – but in this purely economic equation, they are just lower cost economic inputs.
This is not a function of whether they are ‘poor’ or opportunity starved, this is also a function of consumers demanding low prices for everything.
This is not altogether wrong, but we should see the connections between the two parts.
I just returned from China where I met someone who blamed American consumers for wanting low prices at Walmart and hence making Chinese work for nothing.
There are so many dimensions to this and it can’t just be seen on a local or national level. These are all international flows.
What is the Christian response? I believe we need to examine the log in our own eye before commenting on others. Our lifestyle choices matter, as does how we speak of the other: “brothers and sisters” or “cheap labour”.



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 16, 2007 at 11:21 pm


There is the perception, at least that immigration is the culprit in over-burdening our hospitals, schools, etc. I would posit that the true problem arises from the diversion of resources in these areas to military spending.
Well I think that is true James . But we need police departments and we need some kind of defence for this nation . I would also pose that how much government spends on things , unfunded mandates on local governments , and people who are out of touch with the average American , being influenced by special interests thousands of miles away from some us who are making laws that are so out of touch with us part of the problem too . We need a strong defence , we don’t need to use it like we have .



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N.M. Rod

posted October 17, 2007 at 12:05 am


We need a strong defense.
Who are we defending ourselves from with this vast military might?
Which army, air force or navy are poised to invade America and take over?
The only countries on our borders are militarily very weak and that’s just the way we like it (except for complaining they don’t pull their own weight in our defending them – which we define as contributing to ours, not them developing their own)
so it cannot be to defend from any viable threat from our neighbors.
It seems that the threat grows proportionally with our spending.
Do we need it because so much of our domestic manufacturing is now in munitions, for ourselves and also to sell to others?
Yes, only a fool would not acknowledge that is now part of our addiction – our economic system does depend on keeping a market for war machinery on a vast scale, greater by far than all other nations combined. And we are helping to drive their “need” for our weapons, too.
And like liberal Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State, “What’s the use of having it if you don’t get to use it?” Even at the price of, as she admitted, the lives of innocent children.



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Anonymous

posted October 17, 2007 at 12:18 am


N.M. Rod said
Which army, air force or navy are poised to invade America and take over?
None , but take away our strong defence and I am not sure , or are you that will be the case , or in the future be the case . The history of the world , without the United States in it tells a different story that you seem to be ignoring .
The world and wars are not always our fault in causing or stopping .
There is evil in this world , and sometimes that evil controls the head of nations .
We need to be diligent in our questions of our own leaders in how we use our military , but your suggestion for the United States to be defenceless is obsurd .



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 17, 2007 at 12:24 am


N.M. Rod said
Which army, air force or navy are poised to invade America and take over?
None , but take away our strong defence and I am not sure , or are you that will be the case .
The history of the world ,with or without the United States in it tells a different story that you seem to be ignoring .
The world and wars are not always our fault in causing or stopping . The future is unknown, strength is not an indication of wanting a war when displayed properly , being unprepared can be seen as a weakness not a strength to those with different value systems . There is evil in this world , and sometimes that evil controls the head of nations .
We need to be diligent in our questions of our own leaders in how we use our military , but your suggestion for the United States to be defenceless is obsurd . The lives of innocent children indeed have been sacrificed because of nations without a strong defence . Millions of children were killed last century because of the nations that bullied weaker nations without a defence .



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rcountry

posted October 17, 2007 at 1:27 am


This is such a complicated issue, and as a person that lives 3 miles from the Mexican border, I can tell you, it’s an issue most pressing to us.
It’s so nice to be able to put a face on your program, it humanizes the problem even if in such a small way, but I don’t think the issue is that your Mexican momma’s kids are crying. I also know of another woman who has overstayed her visa because this is the only place she can get the medical treatment she needs to stay alive, her lawyer didn’t file her paperwork on time so she wasn’t able to be reviewed prior to the expiration, thanks to God she was given a reprieve while her case was pending.
However, the few and far between cases do not make up for the fact that our open border policy has been taken advantage of by all the governments involved, the IAs and people who hire them, and others who seek to gain from exploiting the lawlessness or sovereignty of this nation and it’s tax paying citizens. Now it is too late. Now we must plug the hole in the boat, or it will drown us all. It is a waste of time trying to bail water from a leaking boat, lest the hole get bigger, even as we see happening since the last ‘comprehensive’ bill was signed. We needed to enforce those laws then if we had any hope at all of stopping the need for more drastic measures, such as a fence and strict border and IA enforcement, now. Creating laws that won’t be enforced is a waste of time, and is a placebo to ‘business as usual’ and more taxation.
This subject requires a book, not a few small paragraphs to reach this conclusion, and no amount of humanizing will help. This woman knew the responsibility was hers when she decided to live here illegally, and unfortunately the children are always the ones to pay the price. I give plenty in money and visits to the orphanages in Reynosa, where children are stashed while thier parents go off to the US, supposedly to make money for a better life in Mexico for the family, yet these kids sit here neglected by them, while our church and other charities feed and clothe them. Sorry, but I see these faces and it’s just unacceptable to me that parents could do such things. My children will not pay the price for your irresponsible legitimizing of thier criminal behavior, nor will your article make us responsible for them either.
As for whether or not this is a ‘Christian’ attitude, don’t presume to speak for God. This was exactly by His design, how he made one man blind, another a slave, and others free. He has a plan for all of us, in His way and in His time. It is not for us to circumvent His works nor tempt Him in our sin. He gave inspiration to us for the country and laws we have, to render unto Caesar what is his, and to God what is His. To break the laws of the land, or to condone and abet such behavior is wrong.
You should instead be working on fasttracking the long line of people willing to legally be here, those who have shown that ‘a fast buck’ isn’t the root of their wanting to be here. Don’t you feel raped and used, at all? And this is just a small part of the story….



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N.M. Rod

posted October 17, 2007 at 2:30 am


I think it’s obvious this is the same poisonous theology of selfishness that supposedly allowed the “divine law” to determine for the Southern Baptist slaveowner church founded upon the rock of slavery in 1848, that
black slaves were to remain so, along with their offspring, forever, and that they were only 2/3 human.
And to remove all the subhuman Indians to concentration camps, making the illegal legal, during the Trail of Tears, in an outright theft ruled illegal by the Supreme Court.
How convenient for you that you’re not a slave or an American Indian, that God made you a white man!
You must be blessed, and thankful you’re not a sinner like the other races of men!
Who are your blessings derived from?
God or Caesar?
And whose do you prefer? I recall some other religious folk who rejected Christ and his ways in favor of Caesar: “We have no King but Caesar!”
“As for whether or not this is a ‘Christian’ attitude, don’t presume to speak for God. This was exactly by His design, how he made one man blind, another a slave, and others free. He has a plan for all of us, in His way and in His time. It is not for us to circumvent His works nor tempt Him in our sin. He gave inspiration to us for the country and laws we have, to render unto Caesar what is his, and to God what is His.”



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 17, 2007 at 3:11 am


N.M. Rod said
Which army, air force or navy are poised to invade America and take over?
Me
I suggest you only need to read your last post on immigration on a previous blog ,
YOU
People just have to find other people to hate – it’s how they’re made.
It doesn’t much matter who they are, either, only that someone can be found to satisfy that deep-seated need.
Since no one wants to admit that, justifications have to be found to mask that very primal need.
Posted by: N.M. Rod
Me
That is why we need a military , because if this how you depict Americans , I suggest to you there are folks that might be just as bad in other countries . Its possible anyway .



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Curt

posted October 17, 2007 at 6:59 am


In a previous job I worked for a resident alien. She is a well educated, IT professional, citizen of the UK, in this country legally under a work visa. I recall that once a year she had to undertake some process to renew her resident alien status. She abhored the process, mainly because it was long, complex, and culminated in a full day (or two) of the best in bureacracy, being shuffled from burearcrat to bureaucrat at the ICE offices in DC.
Remebering her stories (and she had many to tell) of how the process “works”, I’ve never been surprised that there are many who find it easier to sidestep the “process”.
Many (most?) folks enter the country because it improves their economic situation. They enter illegally because it is not worth their time/money/effort to do so legally. I suspect they are confused or daunted by the legal process.
Building fences is not the answer to our problem. We need to improve our ability to legally move the workforce across the border to either resident alien or immigrant status.
Provide a method for legalizing the workforce and all of them will then be paying (legally) into the institutions that provide services, they can be provided a track to naturalization if they desire, and we can focus efforts on that portion of the immigrant population who truly are illegal or undesirable.
God bless you Patty Kupfer and others who work for reasonable solutions to our immigration prolems.



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wayne

posted October 17, 2007 at 10:15 am


rcountry
Your words do give us somethings to think about.
If the border was managed, not just ignored as it has been, nor militarized, as eventually it will have to be, both what you describe and what Patty Kupfer described would not occur.
For example;
If people here need workers, they would be able to come through legally. They could also go back whenever they needed to and tend to their families.
Being here legally we could finally ascertain what the cost/benefit situation is with accuracy.
We could then enact laws to address whatever cost imbalances existed.
To continue in the argument that because our government has ignored this problem we should forcibly expel and mistreat others, is not logic, it is just misplaced anger.
As such it gives way to even greater evil and is not a path to choose if you want to do something good. It will not answer the problem.
It is not just the Government that has ignored this problem. As long as undocumented workers were just picking oranges, non-border citizens have never cared much. If we force the Government to pay attention AND we develop a humane attitude toward others who need work, perhaps real solutions can be found.
We do not need to be hurt by immigration if we handle it properly. We will benefit from doing so and so will the immigrant. To keep on this track of enforcement only is not logical, nor is it humane.



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Anonymous

posted October 17, 2007 at 10:40 am


I have two children living in my home as we speak. They will probably be with us until they are grown. They are citizens but their parents are not.
The father was deported some months ago and was diabetic.He had been here for many, many years.
He died in Mexico unable to get treatment and/ a proper diet could not be maintained. Their mother is still here as she has been for nearly all of her life, but she also faces the real possibility of deportation.
I fail to see how anyone can justify this based on some legal argument. I am sure some may try and come up with something perfectly logical. When you do so I will invite you to my home and you can tell me your answer while looking into the eyes of these two children.



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kevin s.

posted October 17, 2007 at 12:54 pm


“I can’t imagine why anyone would oppose the proposal to develop a pathway for people who are legally arriving in your country for work to become permanent residents or even citizens.”
We have a pathway for those who arrive legally, but not one for those who arrive illegally, which makes sense since, in accordance with our laws, they are not supposed to be here.
The process is a pain, but then, it is just as big of a pain in Australia.



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wayne

posted October 17, 2007 at 2:32 pm


The process is more than a pain. It prohibits the very people who need to come and for whom there is work, to do so. There is no legal means for uneducated/low skilled immigrants to come in the numbers they need to. For up to a century we kept asking them to come with one hand and with the other ignored our own laws which said they could not do so. We refused to change our laws to reflect reality. Being hungry and poor they saw our law as meaningless. As long as they only wanted to work the fields we did not care.
Now we have factions of people who seem to care too much.
They demand justice but only for themselves. They demand responsibility but refuse to be responsible for their part in the problem. They demand retribution in the name of obeying laws that we ourselves ignored.
Some even use public anger to mask ethnic bigotry. Others use it to misdirect public dissatisfaction with government failure. All of them seem to have logical arguments but their facts are either spurious and unprovable, or outright myth.
Until the law is changed we will become more of a police state than any American should ever aspire to or desire.
If we cannot bring some humane reasoning to this problem civil disobedience will ensue and grow. Good citizens who just disagree will be criminalized and businesses who need labor will either leave or fail.
United State agricultural companies are even now moving to Mexico to raise crops for consumption in the States. More will do so. You cannot control the laws of supply and demand with fences.



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Dan at Faith In Public Life

posted October 17, 2007 at 3:24 pm


Nice post Patty. Thanks for putting these brave immigrants’ spirit on display. Posts such as these, which focus on humanity not nationality, work toward dissolving the wall between the in-group and the out-group (ie, your tribe/nation vs. “the other.”)



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Mick Sheldon

posted October 17, 2007 at 4:01 pm


You cannot control the laws of supply and demand with fences.
Posted by: wayne
Wayne you made a compelling statement . I just highlighted this because you had stated that the laws on the books did not deal with reality . I guess the reality is the fence is being built slowly anyway .
Do you have any ideas how this is going to end up as far as legislation goes ? Big Business appears to be on your side on this one , and I thought the majority of Congress.



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N.M. Rod

posted October 17, 2007 at 4:35 pm


Realistically, there is no pathway to citizenship for millions here legally. In many cases, security background checks for those who have passed citizenship exams have been backlogged, pending for more than five years, when the process is supposed to take several weeks, for people who have been permanent legal residents for decades.
The situation is similar for those seeking to be permanent residents – decades-long gridlock due to newly mandated security checks that were never budgeted or staffed for.
I have friends who’ve quit the citizenship and immigration department due to what they call a complete meltdown of service and their own complete frustration with what they characterized as total mismanagement.
The entire bureaucracy is funded only by application fees, not taxes, from would-be immigrants, resulting in massive increases in those fees. Then there is the practical unwillingness for the service to actually process people to become citizens because then they are no longer able to charge the massive repeated fees which fund their operations, if inadequately.
Large businesses with lawyers can pay high “expediency” fees, that were set up for corporations to be able to bypass the normal, years-long processing periods
available to the general public.
Imagine what it is to have to travel hundreds of miles repeatedly to the large cities where processing appointments have to be made, that entail high fees and long bureaucratic waits and then losing a job because of having to do so, and having to re-register with authorities every time you move, never with any assurance that the paperwork will ever get processed.
Immigration reform as envisioned in last Spring’s bill was a fantasy, for none of its proposed mandates were funded, and are impossible to lay on top of an already completely broken bureaucracy unable to come anywhere near to fulfilling current responsibilities, and judged by the GAO as the worst-performing of all U.S. government departments.



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Bill Samuel

posted October 18, 2007 at 7:41 pm


There was a time in America when millions of immigrants came through Ellis Island. To become documented, they had to 1) have identification, and 2) have an American vouch for them. That’s it. Were most of them good for America or bad for America? There’s actually very little debate about that question, but today when (unlike then) the majority of immigrants are people of color, we get a different reaction.
But the immigrants of today are very like the immigrants of a century ago. They are mostly decent, hard working people just seeking to make a better life for themselves. Should those of us fortunate enough to have been born in this land of plenty look down on those who weren’t?
I suggest going back to something more like the old system, with some safeguards. Make it very easy for people to get documents to stay here and work for a year. Use screening methods to try to weed out the bad apples, but otherwise let them in – no quotas. To combat the fear that more people than we can employ would come in, make renewal of their documentation conditional upon at least one adult in the family (or themselves, if single) having worked at least half the time during that first year (subject to exceptions such as major illness) as well as not having a record of any anti-social behavior. Allow 2 2-year renewals of this status, subject to the same conditions. If after 5 years they had a clean record and a good work history, allow them to obtain permanent resident status.
This system would reduce or eliminate some major current problems related to undocumented immigrants. Because the immigrants would be legally able to work, they could not be nearly as vulnerable to exploitation. Correspondingly, we would get rid of the negative impacts on labor rates and rights of having a large number of people in the work force without a legal right to be there. The laborers could organize, seek administrative and judicial redress, etc. without fear of deportation and their families being separated.
We could save the vast resources being used relative to status issues. Some of it could be used for other than enforcement. Part of it could be used to enhance enforcement against the very small proportion of immigrants who are indeed bad apples.
And this is much more practical than the current situation. As has been pointed out, you can’t hold back the consequences of economic and social realities with a fence. You can’t stop a tide of immigration when there are such strong economic and social forces pressuring people to emigrate from their native countries. Instead of trying, put in place a reasonable system allowing these folks to become good neighbors to us. At the same time, seek to address the underlying factors.



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Anonymous

posted October 18, 2007 at 7:57 pm


Mick Sheldon said:
“I really don’t think is an issue that Jesus has picked a side.”
Mick,
It appears clear to me after examining the hundreds of directives in Hebrew scriptures (Lev. 19:33-34, Deut. 10:18-19, Job 29:7-17, Exod. 22:21-24, etc.) and after reading Jesus’ own words in Matthew 25 – all of which explicitly command us towards a loving response to the alien, stranger, or foreigner among and leave us no other option – that a U.S. policy of deportation whether en masse or through attrition can NEVER be considered as loving or acceptable through Jesus’ assigned grid to us. While laws are to be respected we can see this is not a simple case of law-breaking and deportation is obviously cruel and ultimately unloving.
If you are in agreement with the inability, in accordance with scripture, to deport (in any fashion) the undocumented currently here – you have no option left but to find a fair, organized way to legalize them over time given they pass certain criteria namely background checks, English language requirements, fines, back taxes paid, etc. or in favor of the comprehensive reform package.
Jesus is always on the side of the victim, poor, widow, orphan and ALIEN. That is clear in scripture and that is why the church must speak up on their behalf.



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Steve

posted October 18, 2007 at 10:42 pm


I doubt if few will read this post because it is coming so late but on the issue of immigration and the conservative attacks against the immigrants what will do about our blessed country’s name- America?
Since our country itself was named after the immigrant from Italy, Amerigo Vaspucci, I suppose we will need to change our name to something more legal? Well, we should be consistent shouldn’t we conservatives?



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steve

posted October 18, 2007 at 10:53 pm


I doubt if few will read this post because it is coming so late but on the issue of immigration and the conservative attacks against the immigrants what will we do about our own blessed country’s name- America?
Since our country itself was named after the immigrant from Italy, Amerigo Vaspucci, I suppose we will need to change our name to something more proper and legal? Well, we should be consistent shouldn’t we, you “pro-family” (depending on who’s family) conservatives?



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Joyce Antila Phipps

posted October 18, 2007 at 11:25 pm


Most immigrant workers pay taxes and make paymemts into the FICA (Social Security)system and never have any returns. So immigrant payments keep our Social Security system afloat. (Brookings Inst. report)
Less than 40% of immigrants are from Mexico. Many are visa overstays from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Many came years ago because they were fleeing persecution and since then have built lives here and contribute to American society. Their children were born here and have no connection with the “old country” just as your parents and grandparents who were the children of immigrants.
A recent Census Bureau reports that over 20% of children born in the U.S. have at least one parent born outside of the U.S. These young families and their children will support the U.S. elderly when they retire because they will still be working.
Many Mexicans and Central Americans came to the U.S. because of so-called fair trade laws like CAFTA and NAFTA that have destroyed industry in their countries.
The debate over immigration reform is much like the same arguments that preceded the quota system in 1924. I suspect that there would be less concern with immigration if it were white.
Finally, remember the person who might save your life may be a Samaritan.



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B Manson

posted October 19, 2007 at 5:36 am


There are myriad reasons why illegal immigrants would make a long dangerous trek over the border, but one group has a simple reason:
Many independent farmers in Mexico formerly were able to sell their own corn in their own country. But they have been undercut by large American agribusiness, subsidized by the US governement, selling their corn at a lower price in the Mexican market.
In other words, some of our own tax dollars contributes to the problem
as they are utilized by these big agribusinesses.



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B Manson

posted October 19, 2007 at 5:38 am


The small farmers lose their livelyhood, and there are no other jobs for them in their country.



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Pat

posted October 19, 2007 at 11:26 am


After reading all the posts so far, and based on people I have known in California and Missouri, and based on what I have read in the press:
1. Properly fund the Immigration & Naturalization Service so that the backlog of applications can be caught up and processed in a timely way in the future.
2. Establish border entry points where those entering the country may apply for temporary and renewable visas and legal Social Security cards.
3. Non-citizens convicted of felony crimes should be deported and identified in a database.
4. Non-citizens should have a way of applying for visas and renewable visas through INS workers located at county Social Security offices across the country.
5. Fees for visa applications should be similar to fees citizens pay for passports.
6. Non-citizens working in this country should be subject to the same taxes as citizens.
7. For employment (after #1 and #2 are accomplished), workers should supply a valid passport, US birth certificate, or current visa.
8. No legal employee (#7) should be denied medical benefits for self or family members equivalent to the benefits of any other employees.
9. There should be no restriction on public education, public clinics, or other publicly-funded services for anyone with proof of residency.
10. A special driver’s license for non-citizens should be available, so long as visa and residency requirements are met. Driver’s license applicants must pass written tests in English, the same as citizens, along with regular driving and vision tests. Registration of vehicles and proof of insurance should be the same as for citizens.
11. Anyone 18 or older who has been in the US as a legal resident for 5 years must apply for citizenship or return to their country of origin and re-apply for legal entry. Those who refuse and are caught will be subject to deportation.
12. All citizens and non-citizens are to be treated with respect by employees of the US Government. The success of immigration reform such as this proposal or any other will depend upon proper funding and operation of the INS and border entry points.



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jerry

posted October 19, 2007 at 2:18 pm


does any one here remember the old green card system. it was scrapped by the democrats and unions because the unions said it was hurting u s workers.



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Anonymous

posted October 19, 2007 at 7:59 pm


Jerry
Many things have been said about immigrants hurting US workers. Many things have been said that point to immigration being an overall good thing. What’s your point?



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linda

posted October 20, 2007 at 10:59 pm


With regard to immigration, there are two things I never hear from church people in positions of authority. When I bring these up, I have
been consistently dismissed by them.
1. Mexico should take care of its own instead of sending its profits to Swiss bank accounts.
2. Illegal immigrants have taken up all of the affordable housing which
used to be available to poor citizens who were trying to work their way
out of poverty. People of modest incomes used to be able to live
modestly. Today, fifty to sixty percent, or more, of poor people’s wages now go for housing and this housing is usually located in very dangerous areas. In Orange County, California, there were 33,000 homeless people in 2006.
Some new apartment complexes are being built and designated as “affordable” with rents beginning at $1,500. So a family of four with
dad making $10 per hour………
The misfortune brought upon our own poor by having 20,000,000
illegals in the U.S. is enormous, demoralizing, violent. From our church
people in authority I hear nothing.



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Anonymous

posted October 22, 2007 at 4:00 am


“The misfortune brought upon our own poor by having 20,000,000 illegals in the U.S. is enormous, demoralizing, violent.”
That is a myth. Read this:
http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/krueger_immigration.pdf
People who say things like this are the same ones who consistently argue against programs aimed at addressing issues you describe making their motivations seem at least a little suspect.
The fact that you feel church leaders are speaking on behalf of immigrants is indeed encouraging!



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anonon

posted October 22, 2007 at 12:16 pm


Linda, I can see that it would be frustrating to feel consistently dismissed by your points. Perhaps it should be a sign to do a little more research. You used some intense, sweeping statements that really don’t make sense.
Do you think immigrants in our country don’t fall into the “impoverished” category? They aren’t deserving of comfort, education or health care because they weren’t born into this country like you were? How about instead of complaining about them “using up housing” we can instead demand that there be MORE affordable housing.



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