April 25, 2013

Another View: Anti-immigration column ignores 11 million in need

Foreign workers displaced by globalization should not be treated like criminals here.


The morning following the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project's benefit celebration, at which Portland Mayor Michael Brennan told of his widowed immigrant grandmother educating all of her children, we read another of Jonette Christian's op-ed dismissals of 11 million fellow human beings in need ("Maine Voices: Repackaging amnesty as 'immigration reform' won't fool Americans," April 13). 

When I ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006, Ms. Christian wrote that she agreed with me on everything save immigration. 

My reply cited the U.S. and Mexican Catholic bishops' 2002 pastoral, which sees Christ in the vulnerable migrant, made jobless by globalization, often a victim of injustice and violence, alone and suffering; we should, as the Gospel teaches, welcome the stranger in our midst.

That statement followed Pope John XXIII's Pacem in Terris principle:  "Every human being has where there are just reasons for it, the right to emigrate to other countries and to take up residence there."

Rejecting the bishops' observation that "all of the goods of the earth belong to all people," Ms. Christian argues that the natural bounty we enjoy is, by right, ours to hoard. Her one immigration policy criterion is middle-class self-interest -- opposed by corporate interests in reform. 

She also ignores fact: Virtually all of those 11 million are victims of NAFTA, which shut down 2 million Mexican farms, displacing 10 million Mexicans in a country overflowing with Central American refugees from U.S.-funded death squads.

And she ignores the huge contributions these immigrants make in doing scutwork others won't do, often cheated of pay, while paying millions into Social Security from which, undocumented, they will not benefit -- not to mention the inexcusable abuses detainees suffer.

William Slavick is a resident of Portland.


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