I recently posted a sermon, Immigration Reform, in which I offered a possible vision of what comprehensive immigration reform might look like. As many may know I have been quite vocal about the racist legislation passed in Arizona; not only its anti-immigration law that would empower police to ask anyone they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ of being undocumented to show them their papers, but also their ban on ethnic studies, and the firing of any teacher of English who speaks with an accent.
I said the following:
“What would a fair immigration policy look like? John F. Kennedy in 1958 said, “Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience.” [John F. Kennedy A Nation of Immigrants (1958)]
Well there is one more thing that an ideal immigration policy must have. Dan Stein, Executive Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform [FAIR] believes that it should also have clear objectives. He states that “What the public wants is 1) a stable population size, 2) a healthy economy, and 3) a sense of national cohesion based on shared values and a common language.” These three components should be the basis of a sound immigration policy.”
I then discussed this from the point of view of our Unitarian Universalist principles that encourages our divergent theological differences yet enables us to speak of our common values that bind us together.
Well, John Blevins, Prairie Star District UUA Board Trustee, linked to my posting on his site. Then a very observant UU minister noted that John had linked to two different blogs that present FAIR in two very different lights. He made comments about this contrast on a blog entitled “Immigration: What’s FAIR? ‘Hate Group?’ or Reliable Source?”
It turns out that the Southern Poverty Law Center has declared FAIR a Hate Group. The article I was quoting by Dan Stein appeared at the Center for Immigration Studies, an apparent sister organization to FAIR. It raised interesting questions for me.
I found myself in agreement with the overall objectives that Dan Stein presented in his essay. In looking at the specifics of how Dan Stein and FAIR are seeking to implement these objectives is where I differ. FAIR is indeed a supporter of SB 1070, the racist legislation passed in Arizona. FAIR also is a supporter of removing citizenship from people born in this country to one or more undocumented parents; the so-called anchor babies. So while FAIR set out a plausible vision of comprehensive immigration reform, as they say the devil is in the details. In this case, it may be literally true.
I have stated this issue of immigration is a complex problem with multiple layers in it, see my post Immigration: A Complicated Onion to Peel. This latest contrast that John Blevins posted reveals its complexity even further.
FAIR may indeed be working against everything that I believe in but they are the only group that has presented a vision of comprehensive immigration reform. Should I discount that vision just because I disagree with their implementation of it? Southern Poverty Law Center has not offered a vision of what they believe comprehensive immigration reform should be. I have done the research and I do not hear any liberal voices offering anything to this issue other than the shouting “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now!” Nothing in as concrete and concise manner as FAIR has done. From my perspective it remains a whirl of dust balls that has yet to settle out and reveal itself.
Shouting is not a vision statement. Protesting against what we do not want is not revealing what we do want. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am fully behind the need to protest against racist legislation. And I am still pondering what we as Unitarian Universalists should do with our General Assembly in Phoenix, AZ in 2012. But what does comprehensive immigration reform look like to the people most impacted by it? I have not heard a response in the positive only in the negative.
I believe in dialog. I firmly believe in Gandhi’s approach of finding where there is agreement to begin there and then dislodge the untruths. It is a matter of sifting the wheat from the chaff. Southern Poverty Law Center may declare FAIR is a hate group and is anti-immigration, but the article I quoted is one grain of wheat. A damn good grain at that to begin the dialog.