Republicans in the House of Representatives—sensing the political winds at their backs heading into the midterm election and distrustful of President Obama’s willingness to enforce the law—have opted to do nothing about immigration. Their strategy is shortsighted.
Reform will require moral courage and leadership, but it is necessary. Because of the federal government’s failure to secure the border, antiquated policies and a patchwork of conflicting regulations, there are now millions of people who have overstayed visas or crossed our borders illegally. The current system is inadequate for the country’s needs, and it is inequitable as well.
Reforms passed in the 1960s focused on entry to the U.S. based on blood relation. Currently, the majority who come to America legally do so on this basis. The law allows little priority based on education or job skills. As a result, Canada, with one-tenth our population, issues about 120,000 permanent and temporary skilled-worker visas annually, nearly twice the number of H1-B visas issued by the U.S. every year.
The immigrant community is brimming with hard-working, entrepreneurial, family-oriented men and women who yearn for freedom and aspire to be Americans in the fullest sense. Others violate our laws, committing crime and living off the system. As Christians and conservatives, we have had to ask ourselves how to move forward.
First, we need to maintain respect for the rule of law. That means no blanket amnesty or guarantee of citizenship. People who entered the country illegally should admit their wrongdoing, pay fines and back taxes, submit to background checks, learn English, and demonstrate their ability to support themselves.
Those who desire citizenship should take their place behind those who have begun that process. There should be no special pathway for those who entered the country illegally. Criminals need to be deported.
But we also must remember that every individual is created in the image of God and precious in His sight. This means laws for how immigrants will enter the U.S. in the future and how those already here are dealt with should acknowledge each person’s God-given dignity. That means a system that allows new Americans to find safe and legal work to support their immediate families.
It makes sense to prioritize entry for those who have education and job skills, and the spouses and minor children of legal immigrants already here also deserve to be let in. However, chain migration—the current failed system that treats every blood relative the same for purposes of entry to the U.S.—needs to be replaced with a more humane and rational system that strengthens marriage and family.
Christian leaders, the business community and law-enforcement officials have been calling for months for a conservative approach to immigration reform. “Congress must work together to pass effective immigration reform that adheres to conservative principles: the rule of law, security and safety, family unity, and human dignity,” urges Sheriff Mark Curran Jr. of Lake County, Ill. “We need to ask ourselves what our founding fathers would do, because we know what Jesus would do.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference decries the current system. It “invites unjust working conditions and even human trafficking; divides families through deportation and backlogs for lawful family reunification, and stifles the full flourishing of people made in God’s image.” [And so on…]
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The writers are identified as “Mr. Reed is founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. Mr. Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
The Wall Street Journal has a problem. For years, most U.S. conservatives could agree with its editorial positions on a wide range of subjects, although the paper in fact caters solely to the business community.
But that is falling apart over mass immigration.
Unless you are an employer likely to benefit from low-wage workers (or a large tech company wanting skilled workers from places like India and China, for which you need H-1B visas) you are very likely no more enthused about mass immigration than the population of any other Western country. Which is to say, not at all.
WSJ is desperately trying to bring U.S. conservatives on board by appealing to Christian principles. (Except for the line about the skilled worker visas, where they use Canada as counter-example. Thanks, WSJ!)
But to judge by the comments (unfortunately, a subscription is required to read the article, although in some mysterious way non-subscribers are able to enter comments) the readers are not buying it.
Some sample comments from subscribers only (they are marked differently and can be distinguished):
America is a nation of immigrants. We should welcome new immigrants into our country, as they strengthen the economy and moral fabric of the society…
…provided that we do it correctly. That means that immigrants should be required to come here legally, which requires us to fix the legal immigration system designed in the 1970’s by the alcoholic womanizer Teddy Kennedy.
It also means that we need to enable a sufficient number of immigrants into the country to meet the needs of a vibrant tech economy. That should start with enabling graduates of U.S. colleges to stay here to work and start companies.
Immigrants also should be required to learn about our system and its roots and to learn English. Come to think of it, all Americans should be required to do the same.
From a religious commenter:
Remind me again….did Jesus demand free passage on a boat to Rome to petition the emperor not to tax his fellow Israelites? Or did he stay and bloom where he was planted? Ya’ll go home. You want Justice? Fight for it and earn it in the halls of Montezuma.
Don’t like scripture? Consider the words of Don Henley. “There is no more ‘new frontier’ ”. The world is a urbanizing, crowded, therefore ugly place. Made worse by human free traitor trafficking. Apple should be in the USA, and let the descendants of Santa Ana clean up the Baja before meddling in the city of the fallen angels (Joni Mitchell).
Nonsense. An article on immigration that fails to discuss Simpson-Mazzoli, signed by President Reagan, is either ill-informed or disingenuous. Simpson-Mazzoli granted full amnesty to all illegal aliens then in the country in exchange for border security and a national ID card.
Congress failed to fund border security and the national ID card, betraying the American people. The American people trust God, but not Congress. The authors argue for yet another amnesty, repeating the failed policy of the past. Are they knaves, or fools?