Friday, June 25, 2010

Immigrants, Illegal and Otherwise, America, and Getting a Grip

I remember a cartoon, decades back, of several Indians1 on the beach, looking at a longboat being rowed in from a big sailing ship. One of them was saying: "Well, there goes the neighborhood."

Today "Quotes of the Day" put this quote on my iGoogle page:
"Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian."
Robert Orben, The Quotations Page

Obeying the Law is a Good Idea: So is Obeying the Law

Sometimes Christians have to decide which law they follow: the one made by whoever's running the territory they're in, or God's law. Obeying God's law can be messy: as Thomas à Becket discovered.

On the other hand: I figure that, sooner or later, both the warlord or judge and I will be facing judgment by the Lord of Hosts. With that in mind, deciding whose law to follow is a no-brainer. If I'm smart, I'll obey the one with more clout. I've written about this before.

Immigrants, Legal and Otherwise

A whole lot of folks here in America are very emotional about both - or all - sides of the "illegal aliens" situation. The number of names that group of new Americans has is one sign that we're not, as a nation, quite comfortable with the status quo: they're called illegal aliens or undocumented immigrants, depending in part on how the speaker views our new neighbors.

Illegal Aliens/Undocumented Immigrants/Our New Neighbors

On the whole, I think that obeying the law is a good idea. Many of America's laws make sense: like insisting that everybody drive on one side of the road, and stop at red lights.

Sometimes, America's laws haven't made sense: like Prohibition and the shamefully legal status of slavery.

Today, we've got laws about who is allowed to come to America, and who isn't. That's nothing new: America has always had a more-or-less ambivalent attitude toward the latest wave of folks who come to make this country work, and enrich themselves in the process.

I am not upset that other folks are making the decision that my ancestors did. I think one of America's great strengths - maybe what's kept us going so long - is that every generation we've got a new set of Americans with new ideas, new energy, and a fresh look at what it is to live and thrive in this country.

I think it would be nice if so many didn't have to dodge around the system to get here - but on the whole I'm glad they're here.

'But They're All Criminals!?'

I've read the statistics: "Illegal aliens" commit crimes. Some of them. Maybe a higher percentage than the general population. Real crimes, I mean: not just being unable to show your government papers on demand.

Speaking of which: unless you're driving, since when has an American had to carry papers to show that he or she is allowed to stand on some spot of land?

I could assume that the rape that happened a few miles from where I live is "typical" of "those people." But I don't. That was the act of one individual. And I have trouble assuming that the families I meet in the grocery, chatting along in Spanish, are engaged in some kind of criminal activity.

Maybe my attitude comes from my Irish ancestry. We're not all that far from the days of "Irish Need Not Apply" and crimes being solved by grabbing the nearest Irishman. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. Or, not.

I don't have a problem with folks who come to this country, find jobs, settle down, and become our newest neighbors.

If they don't have the right government papers, that's an issue that needs to be addressed. But I think it's as much a problem with the government that requires the papers, as it is with the folks who are trying to better their lot.

Some churches have taken our standing orders to care for the poor to heart, and started helping their neighbors: even those who didn't fill out all the right forms. My hat's off to St. Rose of Lima parish in Maywood, California, and others who take the risk of being practical Christians.

Related post:
1 Native Americans, or whatever this week's politically correct phrase is.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.