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Angelo Paparelli on Dysfunctional Government

The Immigration Log in Our Eyes

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A recent article in the Dallas Morning News by Los Angeles Times writer Gregory Rodriguez  ("We're All Hypocrites on Illegal Immigration"), brought to mind a biblical quote: 


Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 7:1-5)


Rodriguez first pointed to the controversy involving Meg Whitman and her erstwhile housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan, an unauthorized immigrant, and the ensuing vitriolic debate between Whitman and Jerry Brown who vie for governor of California.  (I also recently weighed in on KABC Talk Radio concerning the clamor that arose against ICE for failing to deport Ms. Diaz as soon as her illegal status became known, explaining factors that make immediate deportation unwise from a constitutional standpoint and impossible from a resource perspective.)


Rodriguez then posed a question and challenged all of us:   


[Is] Whitman all that different from the rest of us? [Rodriguez could have also included in his query Lou Dobbs, Timothy Geithner, Mitt Romney, Bernard Kerik, Zoe Baird, Kimba Wood and Linda Chavez.]


When it comes to illegal immigration, nobody seems to take responsibility, and we are all, through action or inaction, complicit. . . . . [W]hatever your feelings about illegal immigration, if you eat vegetables, enjoy restaurants, reside in a house built in the last 30 years or ever let a valet park your car, the chances are you're implicated in the hypocritical politics that allows 7 million to 8 million people to work illegally in the country.


I've also written on immigration hypocrisy several times:


Immigration and "the Better Angels of Our Nature"


The hate speech and hate crimes, the demonization of immigrants by some, cannot be allowed to represent to the world the values that America holds dear. The hypocrisy and prejudice of non-native nativists, whose forebears displaced the indigenous peoples of North America, cannot be permitted to stanch the lifeblood of this country, its ever-vibrant tradition of renewal and reinvention through immigration.


The justifiable fears of many Americans about an economy run amok ought not blind us to the manifold contributions to our prosperity that immigrants have always made and, if permitted, will continue to make. Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express put the point eloquently to New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman:


Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn't through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat.


* * *


Goodbye, Hello, Lou Dobbs: Whither this Nation of Immigrators?


In post-9/11 America, the Nation of Immigrators includes:


The amnesiac, hypocritical, outraged or just plain apathetic American people who:



  • forget that they enjoy the blessings of America only because their ancestors came here as immigrants,

  • refuse to admit that immigrants are not "illegal" people but mostly honest and hard-working human beings, some of whom may have broken a largely unenforced and very confusing law,

  • will not acknowledge that they enjoy low prices and low inflation because of immigrant labor, earn lower or higher wages because some immigrants are exploited and others create new and better jobs for American workers, [and]

  • are indifferent and therefore fail to hold federal government leaders accountable for an incompetently administered, outdated and dysfunctional immigration policy.


* * * 


Amnesty for the Rich and Powerful But Not for Unauthorized Immigrants


 As revealed in the Wall St. Journal:


The Internal Revenue Service is offering leniency to many wealthy Americans who volunteer to pay taxes owed on assets stashed in offshore accounts, in exchange for information on the bankers who helped them hide the money. Taxpayers who take part in a new program being offered over the next six months will face lower penalties than would otherwise be due, and will likely avoid criminal prosecution, the agency said.


With similar lenity, the Justice Department has just announced that officials of the CIA who engaged in waterboarding and other forms of torture (based on legal memoranda that have since been repudiated) will not be prosecuted.


When it comes to economic refugees, however, who crossed our border to take jobs cleaning toilets, wiping the bottoms of babies and the elderly, mowing yards and washing dishes, all to feed their families, the inJustice Department's actions are robust and by-the-book. And even though deportation is a civil process, in the same way that suits against alleged torturers are civil proceedings, the accused who face immigration justice have no right to a lawyer at government expense.


* * * 


So what should we do to reduce immigration hypocrisy, to move out the immigration logs from our eyes?  I propose logrolling. No, not in the sense of "reciprocal backscratching," where politicians trade legislative favors with one another.  Rather, I think it should be used in its original sense of neighbors helping neighbors ("The term originates from the early days of neighbors helping each other clear land to build homes"). If we roll away the logs of immigration hypocrisy, we will see clearly that we are all brothers and sisters who can thrive together best by helping rather than hating each other. 

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