At the God’s Politics Blog, Jim Wallis writes that
[t]he best example [of what he calls a new Fugitive Slave Law] is the law recently passed in Oklahoma which makes it a “felony for U.S. citizens to knowingly provide shelter, transportation, or employment to illegal immigrants.” If a person comes to the door of a church-run homeless shelter, saying he is illegal and needs a place to sleep, it is a felony to offer him a bed. And churches in Oklahoma across the board have spoken against this new law.
Full post here.
In the comments, the right wing comments call foul because regulating immigration is moral while owning a human being is not. That is true, and I think it makes a difference. Wallis, however, is focusing on preventing people from helping each other. Even if regulating immigration is necessary, regulating it by preventing citizens from helping dark skinned people is immoral, just as it was immoral under the Fugitive Slave Act.
These once removed laws pose more problems for me than the immigration policy established by the federal government. I see federal immigration policy as almost entirely an economic issue. (Asylum is important, but it isn’t what our immigration policy is about.) And as with other economic policies, they certainly could be evil, but I do not think we are closed to making it so. (That wasn’t always true. Prohibiting the immigration of Chinese women, and explicitly prohibiting Chinese people from naturalization was immoral.)
Once we move away from direct regulation, we start to run into problems for me. I think each step has to be narrowly tailored to ensure that it does not deprive a person of more protection than necessary, and to make sure it absolutely minimizes the chances that the law will be applied against someone who just happens to be non-Anglo.
Assume it would break the law to transport a person to the hospital if that person tells you he illegally entered the United States. If a persons makes such a confession, but needs medical attention is it moral to break that law? Is that a different question than a similar one regarding harboring a fugitive slave?