Illegal Immigration and Uncaring America
It was a beautiful sight. I was standing on the edge of some of the most spectacular views in the world. Across the sound were huge snow capped mountains, and the Alaskan camp where I was speaking lay nestled in a river fed valley. The river was teaming with salmon as they made their way up stream to spawn, and its banks were lined with predators in search of their next meal. The plumage that scattered the ground came from majestic eagles who were but a stones throw away. Picking up a few of the feathers I thought they would make wonderful souvenirs, but I was quickly told that only Native Americans were allowed to possess feathers from the American Bald Eagle. I looked at my friends and said, "I am a native American. I was born in America, my parents were born in America, and their parents were born in America. How far back do you have to go, because the reality is that all humans are immigrants to the Americas having come across the Bearing Straights 100's of thousands of years ago.
The United States is unique because it is a melting pot of civilizations. We draw our history and our strength from those who have traveled far and wide to make a new life in a free society. But we find ourselves embroiled in arguments about law and compassion. What makes our country great is its commitment to the law, and that no one is above it because it has been established by the very people who must live under it. What also makes us great is our compassion for the oppressed and our willingness to sacrifice life and wealth throughout the world for the cause of freedom.
Sure, our goodness is muddled with politics and greed, but the core of who we are as a nation is driven by a belief that we have rights ordained by God, and those rights belong to all men and women equally. What polarizes us isn't a difference in these rights, but how these rights should be applied. How do we expect people to live among us free if they flaunt the laws that give them that freedom? How do we act compassionately and not flagrantly ignore the law that holds us together? How can we be rigid with the law when it obviously diminishes our compassion?
There are no easy answers, and that is why we argue. I tire of the conflict of sides; Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, Christian and non-Christian. Social media (as much as I love it) contributes to the civil war of ideas. We fight friend against friend and brother against brother, and instead of compassion and courtesy we isolate and ignore. I find it much easier to ignore people I disagree with because of the emotional turmoil the conflict of ideas creates.
Yet, discourse is a foundation of our democracy, and the civil exchange of ideas extremely important. But why do I want to exchange ideas when in doing so I am labeled with phobias, prejudice, and hatred? If I am for traditional marriage I am homophobic. If I am not for affirmative action I am racist. If I am not for the presidents Executive Order on illegal immigration I am not compassionate. However, I am none of those things, but that is what I am called at worst or implied at best.
We are a country of Law which has a heart of compassion. So I am all for the equal application of compassionate law. If I am to be expected to abide by the law then I expect it from everyone from the president on down. The immigration mess is because we don't enforce the law equally towards those who enter the country and towards those who hire illegal immigrants. To stop illegal immigration we must enforce the laws against employers. If you cut out the monetary source then illegal immigration will dramatically decrease.
So what do we do with the 11 million illegal immigrants within our border? We apply the law compassionately. We don't throw them in jail, but we help them go home. But what if they have lived here for a long time? Home isn't where you live it is where your heart belongs. Illegal immigrants wouldn't come to the U.S. if they could thrive in their own countries. Some would say that sending them back to their birth countries isn't compassionate because of the living conditions from which they came. But compassion isn't giving people the right to flaunt the law, it is the application of the law in compassionate ways.
As a conservative I agree with the President's outline for illegal immigrants whose children were born in the U.S. I disagree with achieving it by flaunting the constitution. In the short term it seems compassionate but wait until another President uses the same tactic for a different purpose. And the fact that other Presidents did it before isn't a good argument if they were all wrong in its use. Working through our system is long and difficult, but it its what gives us our freedom. The reality is that if the President hadn't given the order illegal immigrants would still be within the borders working and raising families with little fear of deportation. Few are enforcing the law.
Until the laws are changed then I believe we should compassionately enforce them, work hard to extend a helping hand to those in need, and rest in the knowledge that law and compassion are not mutually exclusive. I wonder what's happening in Ferguson? I'm just saying...