Friday, January 04, 2008

Friendship changes things

Those who support the wholesale deportation of undocumented immigrants, mostly from Mexico, who have been in the United States for up to two decades, are simply wrong.

These radical voices who characterize as "amnesty"moderate and sensible proposals to create policy that would acknowledge and account for the presence of these immigrants clearly do not enjoy personal relationships with any of the immigrants in question. And, when did "amnesty" become a four-letter word in our nation?

I know, I know. The law and law and order. I get that.

But, law is never adequate when dealing with the human reality and all of its dilemmas, especially when shaped by market forces and the human spirit.

For over twenty years we have taken advantage of the cheap immigrant labor that we allowed to flow unchecked across our southern border. Now some want to legislate a policy that would ignore this contribution to our national benefit. As a friend said to me recently, "I would assume it is better to keep jobs inside our country, rather than exporting the work overseas or outside our borders." I think he is correct.

Of course, the idea that we could deport millions of people is laughable.

But, let's move beyond politics and public policy.

What happens when people connect as friends? Or does friendship not matter any more in America?

Two weeks ago yesterday, my father was laid to rest. Among the crowd that came to honor his memory and to comfort our family were two bright young people, Monica and Jose. Many readers here will remember their situation and their current standing in federal immigration court in Dallas. [For those who don't, type "Monica" in the Search box above and read the story.]

I can't tell you how much their presence meant to me and my family. They were accompanied by other members of their families. They carried bouquets of flowers to leave at the grave. They came to express their sympathy and their love. They are my dear friends. They love me and my family. We love them.

To send these children back to a country they do not know would be wrong. That judgement is true from a policy standpoint. It is also true from a human and moral standpoint.

Call it "amnesty" or whatever. Finding a way for these bright young people and their families to remain in the United States, continue their education and work to make the nation stronger and more productive is simply right--it is the moral high ground and it is simply common sense.

Friendship changes things. People who do not know undocumented immigrants like these two young people should either make some new friendships or simply be quiet.



c hand said...

Why do people leave lands with left wing governments to come to a place that (according to larry) so mistreats the poor? Is it possible that government based on thievery and envy (the type larry advocates) is not even good for the ones it purports to help?

chris said...

Larry, concerning your comment of yesterday, are you saying I lied about Edwards receiving $55,000 for a speech on poverty? If so perhaps you should do a little research.

belinda said...

I agree - friendship changes things! We have become quite involved with a group of Hispanics that work at a local restaurant in our area. Of course, I think personal situations change the way folks feel about a lot of things. Examples: divorce, remarriage, "bad" children, interracial relationships.

Anonymous said...

I respect and appreciate the work and ministry you do, Mr. James, and I know that God does also. But I don't think the arguments you make about illegal immigrants are sound.

You seem to say that if an illegal immigrant from Mexico isn't familiar with Mexico or doesn't know anyone in Mexico because they've been away so long, then they should be allowed to stay here. However, when the person (or his/her family) first came to the USA, it is unlikely that they knew anyone here, but that didn't seem to stop them. So why should it stop them from returning to Mexico?

And the point about not being able to deport so many illegal immigrants. If someone made that argument about poverty -- we can't end ALL poverty so why try to end any of it? -- I think you'd be quick to point out the absurdity of that statement (as well you should).

In the end, I'm not necessarily against working out a plan to try to accommodate those who are already here. But before we clean up the spill, we have to stop the leak. First, improve border security, and second, increase the punishment and prosecution of employers who hire illegal immigrants. However, every time this subject comes up in the political arena, those two factors are put off till later, and accommodating the illegals who are here is on the front burner. You may recall that was tried in the 80's, and the result is the ballooning problem we face today (since the actual prevention aspects were never addressed). As far as I'm concerned, until we put ourselves in a position to be in control of the problem, we have no business creating an incentive for more illegal immigrants to come over.

And before you make another statement about how people like me hate or fear these people -- and I've read several statements by you to that effect -- I want you to know that I have friends who are hispanic, here in the USA. And I travel a lot, and often work with people internationally as part of my job. Europe, India, Australia, Singapore. I have a lot of great friendships with wonderful people of many different backgrounds. But I do expect them to follow the law. That's not about fear or hate, its just about doing what's right. (Not to mention national security, when the issue of illegal immigration is viewed at the macro level.)

No offense is intended in the above, I just believe you are sincerely wrong on this one. May God bless your ministry. Brian

Larry James said...

c hand, just one comment: Mexico is no "left wing" govt and the gap between rich and poor is enormous, thus the answer to why peope come here. You also distort my view of the USA, but I won't defend myself--I think you know better.

chris, can you document this claim?

belinda, thanks.

anonymous, I suppose you and I will have to agree to disagree about some of this. I do agree with your point about border security, but that will only occur when we and Mexico develop a documentable process for guest workers--can't have either one without the other. Question: does anything trump law in your worldview? Ever any reason to challenge and change law?

Anonymous said...

Larry, thank you for showing the courage to take this stand. You provide an intelligent articulation of why those holding to the letter of the law completely misunderstand the nature of the issue.

chris said...

It was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle a few months back but I doubt it was on much of anything else except Fox. Just google a few keywords.

Anonymous said...

This is what must be stopped - "As government cracks down on workplaces, ID theft cranks up"
Identity theft is a crime and if someone is in this country illegally and stealing someone's identity they should be subject to the same law as you or I would be. I am not against legal immigration. Let's be realistic about this and recognize that greed is the driving factor for the employers. They should be prosecuted as well as those who illegally enter the country and break our laws. Immigration is a privilege, not a right.

Larry James said...

Anonymous 12:58, no one is arguing that identity theft should be overlooked or tolerated. I agree with you. But the issue of the millions of people in need of a legal way to stay here and work can be solved if we adopt a reasonable approach.

belinda said...

I've asked before, and I'll continue to ask: Why are the people from Mexico the only "illegal immigrants" we're concerned with?? Every year they are hundreds that manage to get a foot on the shore in Miami from Cuba and are allowed to stay. The majority of those are criminals but we welcome them with open arms.