Except for Newt Gingrich, who said there must be a more humane way of dealing with “illegal” immigrants, all the Republican candidates at the debate the other night offered only unworkable, expensive or down right silly ideas about solving what should be a simple issue. The Washington Post reports:
If a majority of the GOP aspirants agreed on anything, it was that nothing meaningful can be done about the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system and the presence of 11 million undocumented immigrants until the southern border is “secure.” And as Texas Gov. Rick Perry asserted, “It is not safe on that border.”
That sounds very grave. There’s just one problem: The border today is more secure than it has been in years, according to virtually every yardstick accepted by Republican and Democratic administrations for decades. Illegal crossings, as measured by Border Patrol apprehensions, are at their lowest level in 40 years, and rates of nearly all measurable crimes are plummeting in border communities.
In truth, then, the real message on immigration from most of the candidates is this: We can’t fix the broken system, or deal with illegal immigrants until, well, ever. Because even if we understand that 11 million people cannot be deported and must be granted some form of amnesty — the dreaded word! — our conservative base will punish us if we admit it, let alone undertake it.
The Episcopal Church has spoken of the need to address the issue with compassion and common sense through General Convention and through dioceses along the border. From the 2006 General Convention:
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church receive “The Alien Among You” in the Blue Book Report of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns; and, while recognizing the duty and right of a sovereign nation to protect and defend its borders, adopt the following fundamental principles included in “The Alien Among You” as the policy of The Episcopal Church.
Undocumented aliens should have reasonable opportunity to pursue permanent residency.
Legal workers should be allowed to enter the United States to respond to recognized labor force needs.
Close family members should be allowed to reunite without undue delay with individuals lawfully present in the United States.
Fundamental U.S. principles of legal due process should be granted all persons.
Enforcement of national borders and immigration policies should be proportional and humane; and be it further
Resolved, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church deplore any action by the Government of the United States which unduly emphasizes enforcement, including militarization of the border between the United States and Mexico, as the primary response to immigrants entering the United States to work; and be it further
Resolved, That The Episcopal Church undertake a campaign to educate Episcopalians as to the plight of refugees, immigrants, and migrants, which will include information about the root causes of migration; and be it further
Resolved, That this campaign call the Church to commit to welcoming strangers as a matter of Christian responsibility, to advocate for their well being and protection and to urge its members to resist legislation and actions which violate our fundamental beliefs as Christians, including the criminalization of persons providing humanitarian assistance to migrants.
Episcopal Public Policy Network has recommended actions people can take if they care about this issue. Click here for more information.
A video featuring the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, from 2009 that explains the issue: