Immigration Debate

I’ve been doing a little thinking about the current immigration debate. The two main lines of argument that seem to be dominating discussions are as follows (in broad strokes).

  1. Illegal immigrants are hard workers who just want a piece of the American pie and are willing to do jobs that Americans aren’t willing to do. Leave them alone.

  2. Illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes and heavily burden America’s educational and medical services. They’re also a security risk. Kick them out.

I think both are right and both are wrong.

Let’s start with the first. I agree that most illegal immigrants are hard workers that do jobs others won’t do. Some have argued that others won’t do them because they’re demeaning, low-paying, and offer no health benefits. This may be true, but it’s a red herring. The point is that some people are humble and driven enough to do them. There are plenty of poor Americans who burden our social programs by refusing to do unpleasant jobs. Instead of cursing the darkness, illegal immigrants choose to light candles. However, I think those in favor of guest worker programs are trying to have their cake and eat it too. We can’t extort work from the downtrodden and not give them the same compensation we give citizens. Equal work should result in equal pay and benefits.

Looking at the second argument, I do believe that illegal immigrants are burdensome, but as an essentially Judeo-Christian nation, we should welcome those burdens and share of the wealth God has allowed us hold for a while. However, that doesn’t mean that illegal immigrants should be left as they are. We may welcome them and willingly shoulder their burdens, but that doesn’t mean we can do so indefinitely. Compassion doesn’t come without a price tag and there is indeed a security risk associated with porous borders. The answer isn’t to close up our borders more tightly, though. Rather, we should make legal immigration easier by ditching quotas.

This nation was founded and made great by immigrants, not all of whom were legal. Let’s let more of them in so that they can continue to help America be a great nation of hope and prosperity. When listening to the main lines of argument about immigration, I can’t help but wonder when our nation abondoned the ideals represented by the Statue of Liberty. On the base of that great symbol of our nation is a portion of the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Addendum: I’ve decided to add some bits of Scripture related to immigrants and foreigners to see how they affect the debate in the comboxes.

"You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." – Exodus 22:21

"You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." – Exodus 23:9

"When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God." – Leviticus 19:33-24

"For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt." – Deuteronomy 10:17-19

"You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns; you shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down (for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it); lest he cry against you to the LORD, and it be sin in you. You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge; but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. When you reap your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow; that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this." – Deuteronomy 24:14-15,17-22

"’Cursed be he who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’" – Deuteronomy 27:19

"Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place." – Jeremiah 22:3

"The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin." – Psalm 146:9

"Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without redress." – Ezekiel 22:7,29

"(the sojourner has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the wayfarer);" – Job 31:32

‘Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me’, says the LORD of hosts." – Malachi 3:5

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy each to his brother, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.’" – Zechariah 7:9-10

"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 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.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’  Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." – Matthew 25:31-46

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." – Hebrews 13:2

"Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, who have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey as befits God’s service." – 3 John 1:5-6

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

7 thoughts on “Immigration Debate

  1. The Waffling Anglican

    I would submit that the reason Americans won’t take (some of) the jobs performed by illegals is that they don’t pay enough. To use illegals for those jobs maintains an artificially low wage structure for those jobs in order to maintain an artificially low price structure for the respective products. It leads to a permanent exploited class who lives in the country but owe no allegiance to the country and which maintains a separate culture within the nation. This is bad all the way around – as demonstrated by huge crowds of people demonstarting in this nation-state while flying foreign flags.

    Illegals do indeed take jobs from Americans. This may not show up in New York City or Tacoma, but it sure shows up around here in the building trades. If you build a house, you will be lucky to find anyone in the crew who speaks English.

    In addition, by acting as a safety valve for the Mexican economy, it removes a lot of the incentive for Mexico to become a decent, viable nation. They can continue to have their economy subsidized to the tune of many billions per year without reforming anything, and the USA accepts being a cash cow in order to keep getting artificially cheap lettuce / cotton / houses / whatever.

    I have always believed we would be better off paying a quarter a head more for lettuce and a couple thousand on the cost of a house in order to eliminate the problem. I don’t blame the Mexicans for wanting to cross the border; in their situation I would do the same. I blame us for letting them. And I think claims to the moral high ground by those who want to keep them here are at best mistaken and at worst blasphemously cynical.

    If you want to help the Mexican people (who, remember, are not starving or brutalized by islamofascist thugs), I think you could do better by meeting them at the border, giving them an AK-47, copies of the US constitution and declaration of independence, turning them around, and telling them where to get more ammo. Mexico is a well-resourced land that ought to be a nice place to live; the fact that it is not is largely a testimony to decades of corruption and incompetence on the part of those who should have been its stewards. The longer that reckoning is put off, the more catastrophic it is going to be.

  2. Fred K.

    ha. I love what the waffling anglican said about ak47’s (but why for crying out loud a russian rifle?). It would seem that the stability of Mexican government (corrupt or not) is another benefit of illegal immigration to the US. Mexican corruption would seem to be in the US’s best interest for a number of reasons.

    Perhaps it’s time to crack down on businesses who accept payments from illegal aliens

    If anybody’s going to take jobs from American citizens, it should be folks living in India, not aliens living in the US.


  3. The Waffling Anglican

    Fred – I would think an AK-47 de rigeur for the serious revolutionary. A Latin Aamerican geurilla with an M-16 would be like a Hell’s Angel with a Honda – it just wouldn’t look right.

    The Indians we outsource to don’t have kid’s in Texas public schools, don’t drive in Texas w/o insurance, don’t fill up Texas jails, don’t use Texas hospitals and ERs, and don’t receive other forms of Texas public assistance. They also speak English, so teaching them Texan is fairly easy.

    I’m not a huge fan of outsourcing, but my entire dev team is in India, and it seems that the more we expand there, the more folks we hire here as well.

    (BTW, white collar jobs are the easiest ones outsourced. Outsourcing production jobs means you incur shipping costs for the product. Since the actual labor costs involved in making stuff are so low, it is much cheaper to manufacture it here for $10/hr than to do so overseas for $1/hr and then have to ship stuff. You can save, however, save money by hiring an engineer overseas for $25K + bennies versus one here for $100K + bennies)

  4. Tom Smith

    I really don’t have an opinion on the matter (not yet, anyway), but I do have a question. . .

    Why does citizenship in a particular nation grant one rights to a job over and above aliens?

  5. The Waffling Anglican

    Why does citizenship in a particular nation grant one rights to a job over and above aliens?
    It doesn’t, over legal aliens.

    Counterquestion: Why don’t nation-states have the right to determine who does and who doesn’t enter their territories, and under what circumstances?

  6. Funky Dung

    I can’t speak for Tom, but for myself I can say that I don’t dispute that right. What I question is our particular nation-state’s choice to be so anal about who gets in. Quotas seem rather pointless to me.

  7. Tom Smith

    “‘Why does citizenship in a particular nation grant one rights to a job over and above aliens?’
    It doesn’t, over legal aliens.”

    Okay, what I’m getting at is, why is the right to a job dependent upon land boundaries?

    “Counterquestion: Why don’t nation-states have the right to determine who does and who doesn’t enter their territories, and under what circumstances?”

    They do. But that seems to be a non sequitur — I asked about employment, not immigration.

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