Limits to Compassion

With deference to Alexia Salvatierra (“Sacred Refuge,” September-October 2007), I do not believe that our current laws regarding “illegal aliens” (securing our borders, penalizing businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens, and the deportation of illegal aliens) are inherently unjust. Moreover, though existing laws may need some reforms, they were written to justly serve the most basic human needs, like security and stability. Indeed, if our inept federal government was enforcing existing laws, we would not have 12 to 20 million illegal aliens in our nation.

I also wish her article reflected more balance. Nowhere, for example, does she mention the enormous economic cost of providing health care, education, and other social services to illegal aliens. There is no mention of the social cost when thousands of illegal aliens smuggle drugs into our nation. What about the environmental impact on limited natural resources by the addition of 12 to 20 million people? While mentioning the responsibilities of religious communities, why not also mention the responsibilities of individuals who place their children at risk by immigrating illegally into our nation and the responsibilities of the government of Mexico to care for its poor?

Like Salvatierra, I do believe in compassion. Perhaps we differ on the context in which compassion takes place. I believe that compassion needs to be sensitive to reasonable and morally justifiable laws. I also believe that compassion has limits: economic and environmental.

Bob Blackburn
Berlin, Wisconsin

Patty Kupfer responds:

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Sojourners Magazine December 2007
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