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Border patrol is not what we need

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, February 1, 2007

This is a country that has a love-hate relationship with its immigrants. We love when they build our homes, pick our fruit, landscape our suburbs or clean our kitchens. But we hate when they’ve earned a place in the suburbs, when their kids “steal” our kids’ spot at the university or even, perhaps, when their daughter marries our son.

In defending the Minuteman Project, Geoff Spiess made some hasty speculation about the group’s vigilante behavior (‘”Bigot” an unfairly applied term, Jan. 29). In their Web site, the group is frank, explaining that the “nation is [being] devoured and plundered by the menace of tens of millions of invading illegal aliens.” They describe how “future generations will inherit a tangle of rancorous, unassimilated, squabbling cultures with no common bond to hold them together, and a certain guarantee of the death of this nation as a harmonious ‘melting pot.'” These lines reveal that the Minuteman Project is not simply concerned with illegal immigration, but ALL immigration. After all – “legal” immigrants are just as likely to ruin the “harmonious melting pot” as illegal ones. An immigrant is an immigrant – differentiating some as legal will not create harmony.

Spiess also posits a mistaken notion that better protection along the U.S.-Mexican border equals better protection from terrorism. In The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Griswold explains that “before Sept. 11, the government had stationed more than four times as many border enforcement agents on the Mexican border as along the Canadian one, even though the Canadian border is more than twice as long and has been the preferred border of entry for Middle Easterners trying to enter the United States illegally.” Thus, if the United States wants results in its war on terror, it should build a more efficient and fair system of immigration, not fences. The current regulations make legal immigration impossible for millions worldwide trapped in extreme poverty – not coincidentally, the same group willing to accept the jobs that the average American worker does not.

Lastly, for those who decry the “burden” that illegal immigrants place upon social services – immigrants pay taxes too! Legal immigrants or not, they pay sales taxes when they shop, they pay property taxes when they buy homes and they pay income taxes when they work.

Catholic Social Teaching principles can also contextualize immigrant use of social services. The principle of Option for the Poor and Vulnerable encourages Catholics to place the needs of the poor and vulnerable ahead of economic concerns. The principle of Solidarity urges Catholics to promote justice through the recognition that all belong to one human family, regardless of race, class or even citizenship. And the principle of Participation reminds Catholics that all persons have the right to access those institutions necessary for their human fulfillment.

The issue of illegal immigration will not be resolved until the U.S. accepts responsibility for its intermeddling political actions throughout the world. It will require future leaders to fight global conditions of extreme poverty that are creating millions of immigrants. Are we up to that challenge, Notre Dame?

Michelle Muñoz



Jan. 30