Coming to America: A Christian response to illegal immigration, part 3

border-crossingOne in twenty American workers are in the US illegally. Adding wives, children and other family members, estimates for undocumented immigrants range between 9 and 11 million. More than half of those are Mexicans, and despite a trebling of spending on border security, the number of illegal border crossings continues to rise.

In my first 2 posts, I looked at the forces that drive Mexicans to America.

In this final post, I will propose some humane solutions to America’s illegal immigration challenges.

All along, my primary question has been this: Does America have a moral duty towards Mexico, and if so, what polices should we implement to balance internal security on the one hand with a humane response to Mexico’s economic challenges on the other?


If we’re serious about reducing illegal migration, we should begin talking about more ambitious plans to reduce the north-south income gap. —Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald

Give freely without begrudging it, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely —Deuteronomy 15:10,11, NLT

The rich and the poor have this in common: The Lord made them both. —Proverbs 22:2, NLT

On the way to the Tucson International Airport is one of those public art tragedies that give art a bad name. Cities like Chicago get Picasso. Cities like Tucson get Purpleoid.

Purpleoid is a purple, androgynous figure speckled with flashing bits of mirrored glass. Its body is bent into a pose that suggests this artist flunked his human anatomy classes. It holds aloft in its outstretched arms a purple globe—Fragile Humanity. And inscribed at the base of the statue are these immortal words: Together We Rise.

I keep praying that a renegade semi will take the thing out. So far, no luck.

Together We Rise conjures up visions of Soviet-era murals depicting stern-faced workers marching in lockstep to bring glory to the Motherland. Like it takes a village, it’s a phrase guaranteed to give conservatives heartburn, or worse.

But Together We Rise has more than a kernel of God’s truth in it; it means that a community is stronger than an individual.

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. … A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. —Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT

Better law enforcement will not end illegal immigration. The demand for American jobs will continue to overwhelm our resources, just as our best interdiction efforts have failed to win the “war on drugs.” Only by reducing demand can we hope to solve either of these problems.

If good jobs could be found in Mexico, Mexicans would stop coming to America.

If Mexico is to to develop a sustainable economy, it will need massive help from an economic partner. Andrés Oppenheimer looks to Europe as an example:

We should take a page from the European Union, where the richest countries decided five decades ago to help build schools and roads in the poor neighboring countries in exchange for commitments of responsible economic behavior, and all of Europe benefited. —Andrés Oppenheimer, Miami Herald.

Mexico doesn’t need more World Bank loans. Mexico doesn’t need charity. Mexico needs investment. Mexico needs technology transfers, training and capital. And, Mexico needs protection from the global erosion of prices for its agricultural products, especially coffee and vanilla.

In other words, higher fences won’t stop the human flood, but supply-side economics will.
Think of this as a Marshall Plan for Mexico.

We should use the US tax code to create incentives for US investment in Mexico. I’m talking enterprise zones that benefit rural Mexicans, not just those living in Mexico City and Monterrey. I’m talking tax credits for importing Mexican-made products. I’m talking about strategic economic partnerships between US corporations and Mexico that will put Mexico on the map as a global economic power.

mexican_familyJobs are leaving America for China, India, and the Pacific Rim. As a matter of US strategic policy, doesn’t it make better sense to send those jobs to democratic Mexico instead of the People’Â’s Republic of China?

Wouldn’t customer support centers be easier to manage in Hermosillo than New Dehli? Couldn’t semi-conductors be manufactured with the same quality in Mexico as in Ireland? Perhaps not today, but with an investment in education, training, infrastructure, and the right mix of incentives, the answer could be yes five or ten years from now.

Even if these programs have the desired effect, America will still need Mexican laborers. If they leave their homes to come here to work, they should receive the same rights and protections that every American worker does. That will only happen if they are working legally.

It is time to create a new Bracero Program (see part 2 of this series) that will grant 3-year, multiple-entry visas to guest workers, their spouses and children.

If their labor is important to us, a humane nation will make certain that they are able to obtain pre-natal care during pregnancies, pediatric care for their children, and basic medical care for adults. Such benefits will raise the cost of Mexican labor and the services they provide, but an affluent nation can afford to be generous its poorest workers.

I believe we do have a moral duty to help Mexico, a duty forged in years of mutual support, struggle, cooperation and genuine friendship.

For too long, the discussion of undocumented immigrants has focused on border security. That dog won’t hunt any more. To solve the immigration crisis, we need to talk instead about how to lift Mexico out of the poverty that is destroying the hopes and dreams of its youngest and brightest men and women.

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Comments

  1. I’m wondering how long this discussion can continue without the word “corruption” appearing. Mexico is a rich country with a lot of poor people. Helping these poor people is a little like feeding the hungry in North Korea; you wind up wondering whom you are really helping. Investing in Mexico entails the same kind of risks that investing in Zimbabwe entails. That’s because corruption is like the air one breathes in Mexico. Can this problem be overcome? I’m sure it can. But it would take a lot of creative and frank discussions at high levels to do so, and all efforts would face opposition from those who benefit from the status quo. And that’s a lot of powerful people, and they’re on both sides of the border. I guess it all depends upon how much we care.

  2. “Helping these poor people is a little like feeding the hungry in North Korea; you wind up wondering whom you are really helping.” (Bruce nov 3)

    That may be very true but on the other hand, those that do receive even a little bit of food to ease their aching pains will very much appreciate that we didn’t wait to cure the political problems before showing that we care.

  3. Stupid Christians, you don’t deserve an opinion.

    After all, God said, “Do not judge, least ye be judged.”

  4. Thanks for your comment, WhitMae. I left in the “stupid Christians” remark, even though it was unnecessary.

    You’ve misquoted and misunderstood what Jesus was saying in Matthew 7:1-2, so let me quote it in full and in context from the Contemporary English Version:

    “Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you.

    God will be as hard on you as you are on others!

    He will treat you exactly as you treat them.”

    Which means that “judging” isn’t prohibited, but in making judgments we have to realize that we, ourselves, are also sinners, and we, too, will be judged by God. It’s a challenge by Jesus to get us to act in love, rather than in anger or vindictiveness.

    Which is why saying “stupid Christians” makes it clear that you missed the point of what Jesus was saying.

    But, I’m glad you dropped by and took the time to read my post. Come by again anytime.

  5. Perhaps when you are finished with this story, you could do the story of the faceless poor in the United States. People (many white) who are living well below the poverty level and find it harder and harder to feed their families due to illegals.

    Then, you could do another story on a Chinese family that has been trying to legally immigrate to the United States for 6 years. Then an Indian family doing the same thing.

    When you get done with these stories, how about a story on the 100 years of labor law and regulations like minimum wage, safety, overtime, and child labor laws that are now null and void because the Mexicans have no standing and can’t report abuses.

    Get real. Do you think Mexican actually work harder than Americans? Do you honestly think Employers like Mexicans? A Mexican works cheap, can’t complain and has no legal recourse. He is EXPLOITED.

    Here’s a tale for you. A 16 year old girl works at the local grocery store and saves her money to buy a car. She is on her way to work one day when a Mexican (illegally in the country) runs a red light and does $3000 worth of damage to her car. The Mexican is drunk, has no insurance and no drivers license. The police officers arrest him, take him in but tell the young lady that when he is released, he will disappear and there is nothing anyone can do. That’s the face of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

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