In the past few weeks, I’ve written a number of articles about immigration reform. I have stated how I feel. My argument is very simple. No one should be rewarded for breaking the law. However, I do understand that there is a necessity for some of these workers. To put it simply, they do work that Americans will not.
Well Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles has taken a different position. In this weeks Tidings, Archbishop Gomez makes the argument opposite to mine. In his article, A Time for Immigration Reform, he states:
The bishops of the Americas – North and South – are united in calling for U.S. Immigration reform that secures the borders, defends the rule of law, protects human rights, and provides a path for legalization and citizenship for undocumented workers.
He then goes onto argue that this is all about the family and that family are, “separated, migrant workers are exploited, and our brothers and sisters are dying in the deserts outside our borders.”
I’m sorry. I’m a churchgoing Catholic. But, I cannot agree with this position. In fact, his position is full of contradictions. I ask you: Is it possible to defend the rule of law and make lawbreakers citizens? This is exactly the position that Gomez and the other Catholic bishops are taking. You cannot have both sides of this coin. You either have to declare them lawbreakers or grant them amnesty. You cannot do both. To argue as Archbishop Gomez does is illogical.
Secondly, the family issue is designed to play on the heartstrings of all of us. I feel sorry that these families are separated. But, they are not separated because of American law. They are separated because laws are being broken by, at least, one member of the family. To ask American Citizens, whether natural born or immigrant, to accept this and to make it legal because it is not fair to the lawbreakers family, just isn’t right. In fact, it’s even more unfair to the legal immigrants.
Toward the end of his article, Archbishop Gomez says:
For me, immigration is a human rights test of our generation. But it’s also a defining historical moment for America, a moment of national renewal. America has always been a nation of immigrants with a missionary soul.
I agree. Immigration is a human rights test of our generation. It is a test of whether the rule of law will be enforced – whether someone who breaks the law will be forced to answer for it. The problem is far more complicated than these pages can address. However, I know where my heart is. I feel for these people. I know why they are here. I applaud them for trying to make a better life for their family. But, please don’t put them in the same position as people who follow the law. These people broke it. They do not deserve to be granted citizenship for their guilt.
Many people complained that my last article was unfair and that it created a second class of Americans. I agree it is unfair, but what other penalty is there for people who break the law? The penalty should fit the crime. And, crossing the border illegally should cause them to lose some rights. So, now I give them two choices, accept legality without citizenship or go home and apply to re-enter legally the way everyone else does.
After all, immigration is more than a legal issue – it is an issue of emotion as well.