Thursday, April 13, 2006


A dear friend who is now deceased often told me that big problems are just little problems that were neglected when they were small. Never was a truer word spoken in regards to the current immigration imbroglio.

Congress has again put off making any decision on this heads-you-lose-tails-nobody-wins proposition. Neither party wants to touch this political hot potato, because there is a voting block to lose in the process of making one false move. But one thing is abundantly clear: conservatives can’t win this issue trying to imitate the positions of liberals.

My suggestion is quite simple. Begin by doing something, rather than waiting until all the minutiae of the bill can be hammered out before proceeding. If the primary reason for cracking down on illegals is about security, then that is where the process ought to start.

In order to accomplish that objective, we must either construct a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, or place enough law enforcement along the borders to make “getting in,” as hard escaping from Alcatraz once was. You may not realistically be able to deport tens on millions of people, but you have to first stop any more from entering in.

There seems to be a major push for granting a quasi-amnesty for the illegal aliens in this country, in some cases depending on how long they have been here. But how can you accurately determine that?

The Roman Catholic Church has been among the greatest facilitators in this matter. David Zubic, the bishop of the Green Bay diocese impugned those who would be unwilling to accept illegal immigration with outstretched arms. He compared illegal immigrants to Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus needing to flee to Egypt for asylum from the purges of Herodian infanticide. On a local conservative radio program, The Jerry Bader Show, Zubic’s statements were roundly condemned by those of his own flock. Some pointed to his poor exegesis of scripture, others suggested that his meddling came close to a First Amendment infraction.

For my own part, I don’t think it is wise to muzzle the church on the basis of “church and state separation,” as that is already overdone. Much of that has to do with a federal statute passed in 1954, after certain churches put out newspaper adds opposing Senator Lyndon Johnson. On the other hand, the chief problem is a misunderstanding by Zubic, regarding the issue of biblical jurisdiction, between the civil and ecclesiastical spheres.

The role of the church is to provide help to those in need, and there is no international boundary on that mission. Christians should help people less fortunate though voluntary work and donations. However the church should not circumvent existing immigration laws, or deliberately promote illegal immigration. It is easy to have mixed feelings as one contemplates the biblical demand to aid the sojourner and alien. But when does the “flight of refugees” become an invasion that threatens the country’s future, security and stability? Any thoughts of fairness in terms of reciprocity would be quickly dispelled by viewing Mexico’s formal immigration policy laws.

We often hear the “anti-imperialists” ask if everyone has to be just like us. Well, as a matter of fact, they don’t. But for all America’s shortcomings, we see the tragedy that occurs because many countries aren’t a little more like us in economic prowess and opportunity. If we are going to export anything, it ought to be our system of government and ethic of liberty.

How many people can a life boat hold before it sinks or capsizes and all inhabitants perish? While many illegals contribute to the American economy, others put a fatal stranglehold on the resources of our social safety net. This is not compassion for naturalized citizens who are then deprived. The last time I saw my older brother before he died, he asked me why this country gives away so much to aliens, while denying the same help to its citizens. He had a small nest egg which he had to spend down before getting medical assistance. Of course, in his case it would still have been welfare, but he did have a point about priorities.

The problem should also be approached from the demand side. We must penalize businesses that refuse to stop the hiring of illegals. Either give those with a good criminal and employment record an opportunity to legitimize their status, or go home. If you don’t give them the carrot, then they won’t come. If all the illegals were naturalized by a swift act of a fiat, the next wave of protests would be about substandard wages and poor working conditions.

When I was taking a composition class in college, my instructor passed around an example of a good essay done by a previous student. Unfortunately, I didn’t give enough attention to the grammatical structure. I did, however, pay close attention to the subject matter of the essay. This individual had visited Haiti, and was critical of how the U.S. had dealt with the problems there. His opening line was “Give a man a fish and he will eat today. Teach him to fish and he has food for a lifetime.” We need to approach our immigration problem with the same philosophy.

It is time to teach other countries how to fish. Hopefully they are willing to be taught.

Robert E. Meyer is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. Columns by this author can be read regularly on

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