Archive for Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pope takes humane immigration stand

April 23, 2008


Pope Benedict XVI's calls for humane treatment of undocumented immigrants during his trip to the United States got anti-immigration zealots more riled up than usual. Good! I'm beginning to like this pope.

Soon after the pope called on Americans to fight "all forms of violence ... so that immigrants may lead dignified lives," and a White House statement suggested he brought up with President Bush the need to give immigrants and their children "humane treatment," some of America's most vocal opponents of immigration went ballistic.

CNN's anchor-procrastinator Lou Dobbs, the hero of most U.S. anti-immigration groups, shook his head with more than his usual dose of bitterness in his April 16 broadcast and charged that the pope was visiting Washington to "push the amnesty (for undocumented immigrants) agenda."

Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, until recently a Republican presidential hopeful who centered his campaign on cracking down on undocumented workers, said on his Web site that "the pope's immigration comments may have less to do with preaching the Gospel than they do about recruiting new members of the church. This isn't preaching, it is faith-based marketing."

Tancredo added, "I would like to know what part of our lax immigration policy is considered violent."

Well, since Tancredo asked, let's give him some examples:

It is violent to separate families by deporting parents arrested in work site raids and leaving their children, often U.S.-born toddlers, unprotected.

An October 2007 study by La Raza and The Urban Institute, titled "Paying the Price," says there are more than 3 million children who are U.S. citizens with undocumented parents. Thousands of children are being separated from their parents without warning, and millions more are at risk, the study says.

In addition to the psychological shock on children caused by their parents' unexplained disappearance, deportations are often leaving infants without supervision, food and shelter, it says.

It is violent for cities to allow local sheriffs to enforce federal immigration laws pretty much at their whim, or to pass city ordinances prohibiting landlords from renting out apartments to undocumented workers, which is resulting in automatic interrogations of anybody looking Hispanic.

It is violent for local authorities to tolerate vigilante groups that harass Hispanics under the assumption that they are not legally in the country, as is happening with growing regularity in Southern California, Texas and Arizona.

It is violent for politicians, cable television and radio commentators to systematically blame undocumented workers for America's economic and social ills. In addition to being wrong, it is creating a climate of hatred for the nation's 43 million Hispanics.

According to the recently released FBI Hate Crimes Statistics Report, hate crimes against Hispanics soared by 35 percent over the three years that ended in December 2006, to the point that Hispanics are making up 63 percent of all victims of ethnic-motivated crimes.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks hate groups around the country, says there are 888 hate groups in the United States, a 48 percent increase since 2000, not counting 300 anti-immigration groups that have been created in the past three years. Hate crimes against Hispanics "are typically carried out by people who think they are attacking immigrants," the SPLC study says.

My opinion: The pope is right. The estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living in the country not only deserve humane treatment, but many of them should have a chance to earn their legal residence if they perform jobs that Americans won't do, have paid taxes, and are prepared to learn English.

Granted, anti-immigration groups claim that they are not anti-immigration, but only against "illegal immigration." But that's a fallacy, because "legal immigration" has become impossible for a huge number of would-be immigrants under current laws.

The United States is giving far fewer entry visas than the number of unskilled workers its labor market is requiring. Most of those workers already here have no way to regularize their situation. Immigration laws have not kept pace with reality.

America needs less anti-immigrant hysteria, and a new effort to pass a comprehensive immigration law that grants more entry visas, provides a path to legalization for many of those already here, and improves controls at the border.

Just as important, it needs greater economic integration with Latin America, to help the region grow faster, and reduce its peoples' pressures to emigrate.

And, above all, we should remember that the people who are often stigmatized as "illegals" are human beings, and deserve to be treated as such.

Thanks for bringing it up, Benedict! Come back often!

Andres Oppenheimer is a Latin America correspondent for the Miami Herald.


Bossa_Nova 10 years, 1 month ago

Benedict is an idiot. Let's compare the way we treat illegals in the US to the way Mexico treats illegal Guatemalans and other Central Americans. If you are an undocumented Central American in Mexico you get a minimum of 3 years in a Mexican prison if you get caught. But of course we don't hear about those stories do we? I guess that's because Mexico's press is even more censored than ours. Oh, and La Raza = The Race. They should change their name to La Racista = The Racist.

SearchingForTruth 10 years, 1 month ago

Can you afford them? I am tired of paying for them:At present (2007), these are the costs we already pay for illegal alien migrants: 1. Up to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year. 2. $2.2 billion a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens. 3. $2.0 billion a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens. 4. $12 billion a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and they cannot speak a word of English! 5. $17 billion a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies. 6. $3 million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens. 7. 30 percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. 8. $90 billion a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services by the American taxpayers. 9. $200 billion a year in suppressed American wages are caused by the illegal aliens. 10. The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two and a half times that of non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the United States. 11. During the year of 2005 there were four to 10 MILLION illegal aliens that crossed our Southern Border also, as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from Terrorist Countries. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroine and marijuana, crossed into the U. S. from the Southern border. 12. The National Policy Institute, "estimated that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion or an average cost of between $41 and $46 billion annually over a five year period." 13. In 2006 illegal aliens sent home $45 billion in remittances back to their countries of origin. 14. "The Dark Side of Illegal Immigration: Nearly One Million Sex Crimes Committed by Illegal Immigrants in the United States. In California, 1 in 10 births are to illegals, less than 2% are picking crops, 41% are on welfare. No wonder California has financial problems. Do we want that to happen to Kansas?I urge you to listen to the Terry Anderson show. He lives in southern California and will give you the real perspective on illegal aliens:

Brent Garner 10 years, 1 month ago


Jock Navels 10 years, 1 month ago

the world economy under the control of the major corporations has been 'globalized'. the big money has engineered the system so that three of the four factors of production can ignore national boundaries. natural resources, capital and technology can flow freely to wherever it is needed or wanted. only labor is still restricted. kind of fuedal in a way...the workers are still 'bound to the land'. the solution to the 'illegal' immigrant problem is to open the borders. anybody should be able to seek work anywhere.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 1 month ago

Wow, I actually agree with the Pope for once. By the way, we pay for them because we make them illegal. Make them de jure members of society and you don't have to pay for them anymore. They're like the Okies during the Depresssion; no one wanted them, and now we romanticize that period. I know, I know, they were American citizens, but it was the same stupid arguments. Good one Andres.

sfjayhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

All the illegal immigrants I know work hard for low wages and don't get any social services. They are here to make money, not to use - for example - our crappy health care system. Why not bring them into the system so they at least have the same pay and rights as citizens, and pay taxes. We need the money, no question about it - and it would also even the playing field with unemployed citizens who are undercut by employers that exploit illegals.

Jock Navels 10 years, 1 month ago

the economic decline of the working american began with reagonomics and the federal governement's attacks on unions. UNIONS>>>THE FOLKS WHO BROUGHT YOU THE 2 DAY WEEKEND. The capitalist owners of the means of production love illegal immigrants. they don't form and join unions, they don't register and vote. they are easy to subjugate and control. this third tier workforce of serfs lowers legal resident/citizen economic power. Make all immigration legal. Problem solved.Keep them out? Does anybody really think a man or woman with a couple little hungry children is going to look on the other side of a piddly river and watch somebody else feed their kids and not think, "I'm going to get me some of that?" Wouldn't you?"Illegal" immigration is a world wide condition...Nicaraguans and Colombians are streaming into Costa rica for example. Africans are flowing into Europe. Until they perceive a chance where they come from, they're going to go somewhere else. You can't command the tide to cease.

BrianR 10 years, 1 month ago

Parkay, I think you should go to Washington and become Secretary of Da Fence.

RedwoodCoast 10 years ago

"Aging, impoverished, unskilled, and uneducated folks who will need more of our money."They'll also contribute more money if they are legal. Bring their families here, and there you go, money stays here. You make them sound like incompetent human beings. And tell me, were your ancestors aging, impoverished, unskilled, and uneducated folks who needed more of America's money?

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