Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Immigrant March
I should probably be more politically informed, but so many pastoral duties don't leave a whole lot of time for much else. And, really, if it means I miss politics, then that's okay by me. However, allow me to weigh in on the Immigrant March or the Day Without Immigrants, whichever it is being called.

I don't support totally fluid or open borders. I think that is a bad idea. We need border controls and precautions. Totally open borders would be very dangerous and we simply can't handle the potential influx of people should the border have no guard or control whatsoever. Immigration is good and it should be allowed within legal parameters.

However, I also don't support deporting those illegal immigrants. I don't think that would be feasible and, quite frankly, if someone is here, albeit illegally, but is leading a good and productive life, supporting the economy, and leading a generally good life -- that is the sort of person we want mixing into our melting pot. In other words, I think more compassion and amnesty needs to be shown those who are of good moral character, even if the one obvious flaw is their illegal presence in this country. So, I say, we need better border control but we also need greater compassion for those immigrants here trying to make a better life for themselves, their families, and their new-found communities.

On Monday, Fr. Tharp and I met up in another Oklahoma town (not our towns of assignment) to spend our day off. We visited that town's "Welcome Center" to pick up pamphlets and see what the town could offer. As we were looking at pamphlets, the elderly volunteer running the welcome desk asked us if we were "Patronizing local businesses and buying gas." I guess we displayed a confused look because she then offered the explanation that someone, in response to the immigrant walk-out, had decided that "real Americans" should buy gas that day to make our presence felt. We basically conceded that we were spending money, but tried to steer clear of the immigrant discussion. I thought to myself: Oh, there was a brilliant idea! Let's all make a statement on the immigrant march day by buying gas and feeding that out of control price market! Why didn't we all decide to have landscaping and roofing done that day or to patronize fast food chains. OH, oops, I guess that's because no one was doing that sort of work that day because immigrants predominantly work in that field! But I digress...

Then this elderly lady proceeded to offer more of her thoughts: "I just think they all need to go home until they learn English. I mean, I think we need to send them all back and tell them "go on to your own country", until they learn how to speak our language. That's all I am saying. That's the only problem I have with them." Her frantic tone seemed to betray that the language barrier was not the real issue at hand in her heart and mind. As she noted that the language issue was her only "problem" with them, I added, "It sort of sounds like it might be more than just language." I don't think she really understood my indictment of her. Fr. Tharp and I both left commenting that we got a clear indication from the Welcome Center just who is welcome in that town.

No comments: