On the Issues: Illegal Immigration

I attended a Sunday morning church service on a recent cruise returning from Europe. The gospel reading included the words, “for I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me, I was in prison, and you came to me” (Matthew 25: 35-37). During the sermon, I and the rest of the congregation were harangued with the idea that collective social sins can be even more grievous than our personal sins. I was shocked by, but not unfamiliar with, this claim. (Click on the title above to continue reading if necessary.)

Paraphrasing the homilist, lying, cheating, stealing, and being judgmental are personal sins, but among our greatest sins as a society was erecting the southern border wall intending to keep out undocumented aliens. After all, the preacher noted, Jesus was a refugee, and to deny refugee status to undocumented aliens is just like rejecting Jesus. To support his claim, the preacher quoted Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” He was laying a progressive political guilt trip on the congregation. To his commentary, I said to myself, “balderdash!”

I was irritated by what I considered false compassion, and this homilist’s power grab for the moral high ground. While I wanted to stand up and shout that the homilist was wrong, I decided that a more circumspect course of action would be to write a well-reasoned response and have it published where many more would see it. Besides, we were not the first to hear this sort of claim. By writing an opinion piece on this subject, I potentially could make a better case and have a more significant impact than merely satisfying my urge to set the record straight then and there. Please hear me out.

Compassion is virtuous when it involves empathizing with a worthy cause and taking a well-reasoned course of action. Compassion solely driven by sympathetic emotions might not always be justified. In instances where it is unjustified, it, at best, constitutes little more than false compassion. At worst, it can cause considerable harm. The passions are often more motivating than reason, so we must carefully apply reason to avoid overreacting. Consider a reasoned approach to the issue of undocumented aliens, a.k.a. illegal immigrants.

First, in what way was Jesus a refugee or an undocumented alien? When Herod threatened his life in the weeks after his birth, Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus from the Roman province of Judea to the Roman province of Egypt. They broke no laws, made no demands on Egypt’s “safety net,” and returned to Judea after Herod died and the danger to baby Jesus had passed. Jesus and his family were not political or economic refugees; neither were they undocumented aliens breaking laws by entering a country illegally and staying for good.

Second, in what way did Jesus and his family make an illicit claim on Egyptian society? They didn’t! Egypt had no social services at the time of Jesus’ flight, and the Holy Family took nothing to which they were not entitled. Today, undocumented aliens enter the US at a terrific cost to this nation and its people! Social services alone – housing, food, transportation, healthcare, etc. – come at an ever-increasing cost to the American citizenry! Where does all this money come from to pay for all these social services? Nowhere but from picking the pockets of the American people! The analogy of “Jesus as a refugee” is simply not apt.

Third, when one cherry-picks arguments from the Bible to score political points (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the Golden Rule of Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12), that’s an act of intellectual dishonesty. A thorough analysis of what the Bible says about immigrants is almost universally-based on the idea of people converting to Judaism. The rules and regulations set down in the Bible are there for religious reasons, not political reasons. Anyone who used the Bible to make political points simply does not understand its intent. While the Bible provides a general moral framework for governing ourselves, it is not a public policy guidebook. Anyone who treats it as such is not to be trusted.

Lastly, consider all the moral problems associated with illegal immigration. As tent cities and refugee camps begin to proliferate around Chicago and other American cities, the problems with illegal immigration are becoming ever more evident. Right now, Chicago is housing illegals in police stations and hotels and is scrabbling for federal dollars to erect tent cities. 

Admittedly, there are many problems in Central and South America, not the least of which are dictatorships in banana republics and drug and human trafficking cartels in the remaining unruly parts, but importing their problems to the United States does nothing to alleviate the problems south of the border. We will not stem the tide of illegal immigration until the problems that serve as the basis are corrected. We don’t help solve these problems by accepting an unending flow of refugees. Instead, we exacerbate the problem by eliminating any potential opposition.   

There are many moral concerns associated with illegal immigration that come in several broad categories: economic impact, national security, social services and infrastructure, criminal activity, health, social cohesion, exploitation of immigrants, and the rule of law and fairness, to name but a few.

Illegal immigrants often take jobs away from American citizens, especially in low-skill areas; this often leads to depressed wages. Illegals also use public services such as housing, health care, and public education, and this comes at considerable costs to taxpayers who face an ever-increasing burden. Depressing income and increasing taxes is impoverishing many American citizens.

Unbridled immigration along both northern and southern borders is a growing concern to national security. There is an increasing threat of criminal elements engaged in drugs and human trafficking, as well as of military-age single men flooding in from countries whose governments are hellbent on America’s destruction. Like Europe before us, how long will it be before we see internal unrest and acts of terrorism by undocumented aliens?

With today’s globalized health problems, people flooding uncontrolled into our country poses a potential health risk. Individuals who enter our country without proper health screenings contribute to the spread of diseases.

Vast concentrations of foreign nationals in some regions of our country have led to significant demographic changes that can lead to tensions between language, cultural, and religious groups. The acceptance of illegal immigration erodes the foundations of law and order, as it entails individuals entering a country without proper authorization. At the same time, millions patiently await legal entry into the USA, while others circumvent the process, thus marginalizing those who adhere to the law.

Ultimately, importing the world’s problems into this country comes at a considerable cost to our citizens. If charity begins at home, we need to solve America’s problems with hunger, poverty, and homelessness before reaching out to the world. Our actions must be based on reason, not emotion. Before we act, we must seek out truth, not opinion.











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