30 July 2011

Illegal Immigration in America


There is no denying the illegal immigration problem in America today. The US government certainly does not make it easy to enter the country legally. With few exceptions, the process is lengthy and involves a bit of luck, as there are lotteries run by the government for green card issuance. Also, that people want  to come to America is no surprise. It is a country blessed with abundance of natural resources and opportunity. And, people do indeed enter legally each year, many of them becoming proud new American citizens. Some of our greatest Americans have been immigrants. However, many enter illegally each year as well. This not only causes an array of problems for the country, it has sparked an intense debate.

A country so blessed as America has an obligation to help others, just as wealthy people have an extra obligation to help the poor. And, as the record shows, America is perhaps the most generous nation in history in terms of financial and other assistance given to other countries. However, there is no obligation to bankrupt the country to help others, for then the nation not only loses its ability to help other nations, but its ability to take care of its own people. Following Saint Thomas Aquinas, the American government has an obligation to see to the needs of its own people first. So, just how far should the American government go in permitting immigrants currently considered illegal to enter openly, and what are the ethics relating to illegal immigrants themselves?

First, there is the category of immigrant that is really a refugee from some horrible set of conditions or circumstances. We do have, as much as we are able, an obligation to help those who are legitimately refugees. It would also be irresponsible for us knowingly to send back persons to another nation where we know they will face persecution, torture, execution, etc. These are not the immigrants I am discussing. Rather, I am discussing those who do not come from such conditions, but seek to enter the United States for the understandable goal of a better life.

Legal issues aside, illegal immigrants create a tremendous burden on the infrastructure. While in small numbers it might not be so bad, in the large numbers we are seeing, the burden is great. It has been argued that some pay taxes. While that is true, this applies only to those with illegitimate documents used to get into the tax system and work openly, or to those who entered legally on a work visa and stayed after the visa expired. Many are paid under the table and send most of their money back to their home country. Yet, they reap the benefits of the nation in terms of medical care, schooling for their children, and more. The payment burden falls to the citizens, permanent residents, and those here legally on work visas. Furthermore, the mere presence of too many people taxes the system greatly, removing opportunities for those here legally, increasing financial burden, and generally causing strain. For example, a town in New England took in thousands of Somali refugees (who came legally) some years ago, but eventually had to say that they could take no more. While they were bullied in the press for this, they simply did not have the resources to continue taking care of more and more people. It is too much growth too fast.

Another argument that is made is that the illegals do the jobs the rest of us do not want to do. Anyone who has seen Mike Rowe's television show, "Dirty Jobs," knows that there are plenty of hard-working Americans who are willing to do jobs most people find disgusting. The massive influx of illegals are paid less by greedy corporations who would rather have the jobs done for less by an illegal. That might make the cost to the corporation lower, and it might even make the retail price on the shelf lower, but it comes at a great cost in terms of lost jobs and the unemployment burden that causes, as well as the strain to infrastructure caused by the massive presence of illegals. As our recent financial crisis shows, the nation simply cannot continue paying out entitlements and giving handouts at such a massive rate if it is to survive financially. The government has a moral obligation to its people, as well as to the people who immigrate here, to be financially responsible. This involves not allowing illegal immigrants to contribute to bankrupting the nation.

And what of the ethics of the illegals themselves? If they are simply leaving their country and coming here for a better life, that is understandable. However, there is a process set up for this to help ensure that the US takes in only as many people as it can handle. Those we are discussing who choose to enter illegally have chosen to violate the laws of another country in order to get more money or have more opportunities. This reasonably can be considered the sin of pride and is highly unethical. They seem to think nothing of asking the citizenry of another country (which they have entered illegally) to give them benefits, even if it means that hospitals have to close down because of the unpaid overload, schools have problems as a result, and so on. It is selfish and dishonest. Coveting their neighbors goods, they conspire to take what they want anyway when it is denied them. There is a process in place to help ensure that there will be an America capable of providing the wealth of opportunities that it does now for the future generations of current citizens and immigrants.

This no doubt seems harsh to the liberals and socialists in America, and even to many Christians. However, help must be rendered to the poor and less fortunate in a rational manner. There is a obligation of Christian duty to render humanitarian assistance to all, even illegal immigrants, but it should be notes that this refers to humanitarian concerns, not ongoing use of facilities. We in the United States have an obligation to help others, but must do so in a responsible way that allows our nation to continue to flourish and continue to be able to help people.