Thursday, May 25, 2006

What Do I Really Think About Immigration?

Dustin asks this question in the comments to the post below. The answer is a bit longer than will fit in the comments section, so I created a separate post.

1. Immigration is economically good for the country, other things being equal. The problems with immigration (and all increases in population) are generally related to defects in law enforcement or attempts at socialism. Both of these are made worse by a failing moral order. People that are basically law-abiding and productive are of mutual benefit to each other.

2. I also think that the spiritual value of immigration is often underestimated. We are a country that has historically loved liberty tempered by religious restraint. Inviting people into the country from places that don't have those values is good for them (of course) but also good practice for us. The Old Testament is full of exhortations to treat the foreigner as an equal, provided he will obey the law and serve the Lord. But, as with the economic factors mentioned above, this requires that we actually teach these values, both to the immigrants and to our native citizens. But this of course is the job of the church (or religious organizations if you don't think, as I do, that this should be a Christian country.) As with the economic situation above, this is not being done and that causes problems. But in this case, the government is doing too much (i.e. trying to run the school system) rather than too little.

These two factors are inter-related. I believe very strongly in the separation of church and state, but we currently have the situation where the state is trying to take on both roles and the church is making itself irrelevant. But it is only in a society that has a properly functioning civil law and moral precepts that man is not a curse to man. The extent to which we are losing that proper functioning is the extent to which things like immigration and over-crowding will become problems. But a good government focuses on the causes rather than the symptoms, which is why I don't buy the current Republican policy line on immigration.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bush on Imigration

Everyone but me has been talking about Bush's speech on Monday. I am not too interested in the topic, but a couple of comments relate to things that I care deeply about.

First, to set the stage, I hold the view that the strength of America lies primarily in the ideas around which her culture is based, not the geographical advantages or the ethnic identity of her people. So the issue of illegal immigration is interesting primarily as a casebook of reconciling biblical principles of charity toward strangers with (equally biblical) ideals of the rule of law. The laws must be obeyed, but if the offend against charity they may be changed in an orderly way. This seems pretty obvious and non-controversial, but I am amazed how often people argue either (from the Left) that the laws are unjust so they should be ignored or (from the Right) the laws are the laws so they should never be changed. They don't put it quite like that, of course, but that is what it often amounts to.

OK, that's the background. I was interested to read, in the Corner (here, here and here), that President Bush may very well be operating from similar Christian convictions:

[...]I get asked this question all the time and the conclusion I've come to is this: The president is morally and emotionally opposed to immigration enforcement, especially on the Mexican border. He sees it as uncompassionate and un-Christian, at best a necessary evil that must be entered into with the greatest reluctance and abandoned as soon as is practical.

Of course, this doesn't in itself prevent Bush's policy from being muddled. The rule of law is still important and the law cannot do its job if the expectations are constantly being changed based on expediency. That brings me to the following off-hand remark in Mickey Kaus' critique of the president's immigration policy:
I agree that this is the deal that can be cut--in part because there seems to be nothing all that terrible about a legal guest worker program, as long as it draws its workers from those waiting in line outside the country (and not those who've jumped the queue and already snuck in). Guest workers aren't illegal immigrants, after all--and one way to discourage illegals is to give opportunities to legals.
This has always seemed to make the most sense: make legal citizenship as easy as possible so that the incentive to cross illegally is reduced, then come down hard on anyone who still tries to cross illegally. In this scenario, you can be pretty draconian in enforcing the border, since it is reasonably certain that anyone who can't get in legally has malicious intent.

UPDATE: Err, sorry. The link to Kaus' article doesn't go directly to the post I wanted. (I thought he was getting better about that.) The quote is from the 05/17 post at 12:42 AM.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

World Press Freedom Day

I have been ignoring Jane at Armies of Liberation for far too long. Check out her current post on World Press Freedom Day:

As the United States celebrates World Press Freedom Day, we hail the courageous sacrifices made by journalists around the world to report the facts, even at the cost of their lives and their freedom. Every day brave men and women risk harassment, beatings, detention, imprisonment and even death simply for seeking to share the truth with others around the world.
Read it all.