Immigration: Solomon asked for “an understanding heart”

Immigration: Solomon asked for “an understanding heart” March 29, 2006

Perhaps America, like Solomon, needs to raise its hands to heaven and ask for the same – for Wisdom. And we’d better ask soon.

Why? How about for Wisdom for the Nation on the issue of Immigration (or, as a pal emailed me, “migration…”)

This seems like a situation in which partisanship should be put aside in favor of a genuine, workable and realistic solution that will recognise both the dignity of the human beings we’re dealing with, our duties to our nation and to our core values, and our duty to God, as well.

People are gassing away on both sides – some are sure they have the answer, and the answer is “Ship them all back to Mexico, every one of them.” (That means go up to Boston and out to Montauk Point and ship the illegal Irish immigrants back to Eire, too, right? Illegal is illegal!) There are others saying, “let ’em all in!” There are suggestions of walls rivaling the Great Wall of China (with 40-foot footings sunk into the ground to prevent tunnels?) There are suggestions of amnesty, suggestions of felony.

Let’s get real. There are millions of illegal immigrants here, and some of them have been here for decades. If you’re telling me that the solution is to “arrest and ship out every one of them,” I have to disagree with you. While the “ideal,” of course, is that illegal immigrants don’t immigrate illegally, the fact is, our government, our “leaders” have ignored this issue and refused to enforce existing law for 30 years – hence, genies out of bottles don’t get put back in. Some of these people have made lives here, respectable lives, wherein they have worked and paid taxes, contributed to church and community and raised families – are we going to round them up and “ship them back?” How, exactly? How do you prevent them from coming back, when NOTHING is in place to prevent them? When it is unlikely that our feckless, dispassionate and distracted political “leaders” cannot see this situation as anything but political fodder – ammunition for the season – and are lacking in both ideas and courage.

More importantly – for the soul of America – Are we going to put together massive trains and – at gunpoint – load these people and head them south? Is this what we want America to be?

We have to think long and hard about what it means – and what it will FEEL like – to gather people together at gunpoint and put them on trains to send them to a place they do not want to go. Our intentions could be the purest and most noble in the world…that scenario still still smacks of history we don’t want associated with us. It sets a precedent we dare not embrace. I don’t want to see such pictures in our history books. That is not America. That cannot be America, if she is to survive.

Gerard Vanderleun is suggesting that the only way to halt the illegals, and to stop the street party which seems to be a warm-up for a long, hot summer, is to arrest those who hire the illegals. That’s one solution. Dry up the money flow. I think it can work in a limited way, but there are simply too many – too many – small businesses or greedy employers or crooked town commissioners…people who will slip a little money to someone who will look the other way while the law is circumvented. All we’ll really be accomplishing creating a “little Mexico” of local/state corruption which will rival that of Tijuana, or Baja, or Mexico City.

It’s an idea. It’s a start. Unfortunately, it is limited. And Vanderleun doesn’t think anyone in government will even embrace the idea until people start dying. Which we really don’t want to see.

Maybe the solution is a combination of many different ideas. Maybe arresting and prosecuting employers, combined with “grandfathering-in” those illegals who have been here for a certain amount of time and have demonstrated stability – give them citizenship and increase the tax-base, allow them to compete for jobs which offer health care, to take the burden off of our hospitals and clinics which are currently treating too many for free and breaking the backs of the insured in order to make up the difference. Maybe along with those ideas, we should create a registry of some sort, plus ship back those illegals who are not managing to create a stable life, or who have not been here long. Heh. As if we’d find them all. As if they wouldn’t be back here within weeks, because – again, and most importantly – nothing is in place to prevent their return.

I think this problem is simply too large to be effectively solved with “one” solution. Moreover, I don’t think the politicians who have allowed this problem to fester and become the massive running sore it now is can be trusted to bring serious solutions to the table. Possibly, though, a coalition of businessmen, lawyers, community leaders and church leaders could sit down and put together a plan. If you give them a few years, they might come up with a realistic and workable program.

We don’t have years, of course.

A friend emailed me that he was feeling very hopeless, that if we could not “ship ’em out” we – as a nation – are doomed.

I think if we do “ship ’em out” without concern for their humanity, for their dignity (and for our humanity and dignity – and for our souls) we may well be doomed. We cannot stop seeing these people as people. We must protect the borders, absolutely, but there is currently no effective program to do that, and none on the horizon that won’t be laid up in courts for a decade. And we cannot undertake a mass-eviction process without protecting ourselves against what we might become. We must protect the very generosity of spirit which has made us great.

I wrote elsewhere that God is never outdone in generosity – and America (naysayers aside) is a massively generous nation – both economically and spiritually. It is one of the reasons she is great. She cannot become insular, isolationist, cold and distant without freezing her own heart.

And so, let us pray. Let us stop running on emotions and fomenting rage and focusing on where the flag is on the flagpole. (Of course I am offended by those pictures, but they are – in the end – a distraction, a misdirection – a way to get us feeeeeeling and not thinking. Take them with a grain of salt and keep your guts steady.)

I think God has a way of turning things topsy-turvey when He wants to. We know the Holy Spirit has a habit of using what is before us to His advantage, confounding us in every age, turning profound negatives into something else. Wouldn’t it be funny if all of these Catholic, Our Lady of Guadalupe-loving Mexicans (remember, she is patron saint of the Americas ) came into the country and, unexpectedly, over time – completed the domination of the conservatism over progressivism?

It could happen, but not if they get mired in victimology. Wheels are turning, everywhere – it’s like a cosmic gear and pulley are being put into place. Tipping points everywhere.

“Doom, doom, doom”
writes my pal. “America is (dying) and I don’t see her coming back.”

Well…that’s no way to be. The fact is, if the America of 40 years ago is not the America of today, well…we who are here, who love her, have a duty to look at the world as it is, the reality of things as they are, and do our best to re-create (or re-instill, re-establish, re-emphasize) all that is/was the best of America – her values, her industry, her heart – in order to keep the nation alive.

John Paul II used to say that. In encouraging Solidarity, in evangelizing, he would say, “you have to deal with the world as it is, not as you would ideally like it to be.” He was right. And the world right now – as it is – is in flux, due to a systemic lack of interest in addressing this problem for decades. Point the finger at the government – every part of it. Point the finger at ourselves, too, for tuning this problem out for too long.

Speaking of JPII, remember – he made an abrupt trip to Mexico City in 1999. He decided to insert it into his schedule -his advisors and handlers said, “can’t do it – there’s no time in the schedule; you’re too weak.” He said, “make it happen.”

Perhaps he made that abrupt and insistant trip to for a reason. I think he knew what he was doing when he consecrated OLGuadalupe to the Americas – and when he named her feast day. He was grim, serious and purposeful while in Mexico. And it’s worth noting that the first celebration of Guadalupe’s feastday was also the day the Great Election Debacle of 2000 ended. December 12, 2000. Maybe America needs Our Lady of Guadalupe and her devotees more than we realize.

I am coming to the conclusion that all of the noise and handwringing and the certainties that all will be well if “only the right POLICIES are put into place” is horse manure. Focusing on public policy is helpful, but I don’t expect the government to suddenly, magically be able to solve an unweildly problem it has steadfastly ignored since the 1970’s. The government is not going to get us out of this anytime soon. If I look to them, I see insincerity, confusion and political opportunism, on both sides.

The solution is going to have to come from inside of us, the can-do, pragmatic, realistic, problem-solving American people. And I hope our better natures manage to overcome our baser ones.

I don’t like being in the middle of all of this, to be honest – I’d rather be in Brooklyn, circa 1942 – but…this game is afoot – these gears and pulleys are moving, and we do not understand it, and we cannot fathom all that God brings to it. How many times has something happened in your life that seemed awful, but ended up being providential?

We cannot comprehend and know what “negatives” of today will become “positives” tomorrow. All we can do is ask for wisdom and direction, come to this problem as honest brokers seeking real, lasting, humane solutions, and then understand that nothing will happen overnight.

Keep your eyes on the sacrifice we’re watching unfold. And have faith!

Meanwhile, George Will has a very sensible and good article on this issue. He too wonders if we oughtn’t worry about some of the things we “can” do. David Brooks has an excellent piece up, as well, addressing the social conservatives, but it’s behind the stupid NY Times wall.

Related: John Hawkins has a useful FAQ on Illegal Immigration in America
Peggy Noonan finds Immigration and Patriotism must be compatible if we are to survive
Gerald is has sensible thoughts on all of this, and isn’t carrying a bat, today! :-)
Alexandra is talking the economics of it all

Common Sense from Kobayashi Maru
Flannery O’ Connor (Yes, her!) on that Holy Spirit, part.
The Absurdity by Polipundit
Watchman thinks the debate is being shifted
Publius Pundit says there is perhaps a shakeup inside of Mexico
Q&O says First control the boarders
A good piece by Lowell Ponte on Hillary’s Illusory Immigration stance

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