Can America still afford to be a generous immigrant nation? Can it afford not to be?
These are the questions posed by Nine Network of Public Media's and PBS's documentary Homeland: Immigration in America. The first of a three-part series focused on job issues.
While the largest Hispanic populations are in California and Texas, the fastest growing Hispanic populations are in smaller Southern and Midwestern towns.
The episode shined a spotlight on Monett, Mo., home to a Tyson Foods chicken processing plant; EFCO, a Pella Company; and Happy Apples — an apple orchard that produces caramel apples for nationwide sales. The plants have relied on immigrant labor for years, and now the city has revitalized because of the influx of Hispanic immigrants.
While the issue of illegal immigration is at the forefront of people's minds when discussing immigration reform as a whole, the documentary points out the flaws in the legal immigration process as it exists.
When people who have immigrated to another country through methods other than the official legal system are discussed, we hear quite a few words bandied about: “illegal,” “undocumented,” and “alien” just to name a few. The terms are often used interchangeably, but are these terms interchangeable? On NPR’s, Tell Me More, Professor Kevin Johnson, Dean of the law school at the University of California at Davis says no.
“I fear that ‘illegal immigrant’—the term—is a loaded term. It is not as loaded as some of its predecessors like ‘illegal alien’ or ‘wetback,’ but it still is a loaded term,” says Johnson.
Spending time with family last week caused me to reflect on what it means to be an American and what it means to be family. I spent the evening of July 4th back home with family, half of whom are not U.S. citizens. We watched fireworks blast off above the Allegheny River in the hills of northwestern Pennsylvania—the place I grew up, and the place I will always call home.
But my life story actually begins in a country outside of the United States.
When I was a very young child, my parents decided a better future would likely be afforded for me in the U.S. Before an age when I could comprehend the situation and without my given consent, I was brought across the border into the United States.
I am a foreign-born, U.S. citizen who was adopted as an infant.
According to the Associated Press:
"The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. … The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military."
Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners, has been at the forefront, pushing for changes to immigration policies that rip apart families. Wallis released the following statement on Friday:
“The announcement from the White House today is very good news for 1 million young people who have a dream of staying in the country where they have lived most of their lives. Instead of being placed in the deportation pipeline, they will receive work permits enabling them to contribute to the nation and help build America’s future. This is an important step but only a beginning toward comprehensive reform of an utterly broken immigration system. This week a very broad and deep table of Evangelical leaders called on the political leaders of both parties to fix that broken system and protect ‘the stranger’ whom Christ calls us to defend. As Evangelicals we love the ‘good news’ of the gospel, and today we affirm this good news that gives hope and a future for young immigrants who are an important part of both the church and this country.”
Last week, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley made a morally indefensible decision. He signed HB 658, which intensifies the climate of fear that already hangs over Alabama like low dark clouds before a hurricane.
Bentley once claimed that HB 658 would simplify HB 56 — the current anti-immigrant legislation that catapulted Alabama to the national stage. If this is simplification, then I’d like to see Bentley’s version of messed up. HB 658’s additional punitive measures now have created a more problematic situation that exacerbates the current oppression of some of the most vulnerable souls in Alabama.
The new law is reckless. HB 658 calls for the creation of an online public database to expose the names of all undocumented immigrants who have appeared in court. In addition, the law targets innocent children by requiring schools to check the immigration status of students.
February was Black History Month. I ended it by pressing for immigration reform in the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.
When I landed in Birmingham, Alabama two weeks ago, it struck me that I was on my way to Samford University — the flagship University of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It struck me that the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest evangelical denomination in the country and among the most conservative. It struck me that Alabama used to boast that it had the harshest Jim Crow laws and law enforcement during the Civil Rights era. Now it boasts the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation.
Passed into law on June 9, 2011, HB56 criminalizes Alabamans’ daily associations with immigrants who cannot prove their legal status. Giving an undocumented immigrant a ride can result in criminal arrest. The legislation also prohibits all businesses (including schools, the water company, and the telephone company among others) from conducting business transactions on any level with anyone who cannot prove their legal status. Tens of thousands of Latino families fled Alabama within weeks of the law’s passage. Businesses closed, schools lost huge percentages of their students, and vegetables were left to rot in the fields.
I was in Birmingham to speak at the G92 South Conference, a one-day conference for students and pastors hosted on Samford’s sprawling campus. G92 is a reference to the 92 times the Hebrew word Ger is used in the Bible. Ger means stranger or sojourner. The conference began last autumn at Cedarville University in Ohio. It is now being replicated on Christian college campuses across the country. Samford University was the second campus to agree to host the conference.
During this 35-minute audio story, Hitt walks through many aspects of the immigration bill and introduces real stories of people interacting with it — from Scott Beason, a Republican senator who was the primary sponsor for the bill last season, to Latino families pulling their kids out of school, quitting their jobs, and remaining safe in their isolated neighborhoods.
Hitt demonstrates how this is not only a huge issue for the state, but also for the church. A woman shares that people at her congregation are suspect when passing the peace, some won’t even shake hands. But again, this is what HB56 is about: making life uncomfortable to the point that the undocumented people will leave because it’s easier to flee than to stay.
Obama Speech: State Of The Union Address Carries Emphatic Populist Challenge; What Do Latino Evangelical Voters Want? (OPINION by Gabriel Salguero); Evangelist: True Christians Don’t Demonize Mormons, Obama; Daniels Slams Obama's 'Pro-Poverty' Policy; Does Mitt Romney And Newt Gingrich's Rise Signal The End Of Evangelical Influence In 2012?; Time For The Peace Vote?; Best Actor Nominee Dedicates His Oscar Nod To Undocumented Immigrants; Christine Lagarde Sounds The Alarm On Europe; Davos Elite: Capitalism Has Widened Income; Gap Alabama's Immigration Law Dividing Religious Community.
Person Of The Year - The Protester; Newt Gingrich's Vision For The Impoverished -- A Reflection Of Our Values (OPINION); Teaching About HIV/AIDS In The Church; Catholic Bishops: Don’t Treat Illegal Immigrants As Criminals; Christianity 2.0; Keystone Pipeline A Tough Decision For Obama; How Many Innocent People Are In Prison?
On November 3, "Shattered Families," a report on the status of U.S.-born children whose parents have been detained or deported by immigration agents reported that there are more than 5,000 American children who are in foster care and are unable to be reunited with their detained or deported parents.
Of course, this figure does not include children who have been left in the custody of relatives because their parents have been deported or detained by U.S. authorities. This situation has become increasingly problematic as the U.S. government has increased the number of deportations and detentions to record-breaking levels.
These children are U.S. citizens, so they cannot be deported. And yet the system is practically turning them into orphans.
Top 10 Reasons Alabama’s New Immigration Law Is A Disaster For The State’s Economy; Undocumented Immigrants Facing Deportation: Caught Up In Confusion, Lost Records, Inconsistent Policy Enforcement, And Difficult Choices; A Deeper Look At Income Inequality; Why The Debt Panel Is In Trouble; How Congress Occupied Wall Street (OPINION – Sarah Palin); 68 Percent Of The Sons Of The 1 Percent Work At Their Dad's Company; More Than 1 In 5 U.S. Children Poor, Census Says.
Baby steppin': Economy grew 2.5 percent in the third quarter. Democrats first offer: $3 trillion for debt. Immigration is a faith issue. Harsh rhetoric to derail the GOP? The canon of St. Paul's Cathedral in London resigns over plans to evict Occupy London protesters. Elizabeth Warren and the #OccupyWallStreet election test.
I admit it: A few years back, when I first heard about the E-Verify program, I thought it sounded reasonable. The program was described to me as a way for employers to voluntarily verify the U.S. citizenship of their employees by cross-checking their information with the online databases of the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security administration. I knew that there were flaws in the system, which sometimes misidentified workers as undocumented even when they were not. However, I thought, what employer doesn't deserve the right to check the employment eligibility of his or her workers?
"I will call them my people, who were not my people. And her beloved, who was not beloved." (Romans 9:25 referencing Hosea 2:23)
Estranged, alienated, and removed; anyone living in an industrialized modern society in the 21st century would be able to define, or at least identify the sentiments of these words. Our time is one of mass communication and instantaneous access to knowledge. And yet our lives are too compartmentalized, increasingly divided, and our society reflects this. Indeed the existential writers of yesteryear were correct in diagnosing the iron cage that would befall us, ultimately leading to an eclipse of reason.