Keeping the Faith
by The Opportunity Agenda, Wed May 12, 2010 at 01:21:14 PM EDT
With the massive march on Washington DC and the passage of S.B. 1070 in Arizona, immigrants in general, and a potential immigration reform bill specifically, have taken center stage in the American political debate. But, buried within these political questions—Will an immigration bill come before a climate change bill? How will the debate affect voter turnout in November?—is a more fundamental, and far more important set of questions about who we are as a nation. These questions—Do we rise and fall together? Do we remember the stories of how our own ancestors came to this country?—cannot be answered by facts or figures. No, to answer these questions, we must turn to our values.
As a nation, we can embrace the value of being a welcoming community, or we can wall ourselves off from the rest of the world. We can work with communities of new Americans to be sure that they have the tools to be healthy and productive members of society, or we can isolate them, ensuring that they will never be able to fulfill the very same dream that has brought people to this land from across the world since our founding. We can talk to and about each other in a way that conveys mutual respect, or we can give into the darkest and cruelest back alleys of our minds.
Throughout the debate, we as a nation will be well-served by taking the high road, and remembering that the overwhelming majority of people who come to our country do so because they believe it will mean a better life for their children and their children’s children. And, we should remember to lift up those among us who are joining us on the high road. With that in mind, I would recommend Lisa Miller’s recent piece on the role that American Bishops of the Catholic Church have played in pushing for real immigration solutions that uphold our values and move us forward together. In their advocacy, the Bishops have clearly dug deep into their institutional values and remembered Exodus 22:21, “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.