Once removed immigration laws

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?

7 thoughts on “Once removed immigration laws”

  1. 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.

    Jim, this is disingenuous. There are plenty of arguments against illegal immigration that don’t start with any kind of racism. You hurt the debate, and your own standing in the conversation with language like this.

    I couldn’t even read the rest of the post once I came to that sentence. You can’t call racism every time a certain political position happens to affect a disproportionate percentage of one race. Is it sometimes racism? Of course, but you can’t just scream racism when people are against illegal immigration.

    If you want to have a more subtle discussion on regulation of humanitarian aid, then let’s try to do that.

    By the way, I am probably against Oklahoma law. I also find it comical that the only legitimate way to describe one half of this debate is to say it is “against illegal…” Against something illegal?

  2. It is not even a little bit disingenuous. These laws that prohibit people from providing humanitarian aid to illegal immigrants ONLY AFFECT dark skinned people. Nobody would hesitate from helping a person who illegally entered the country from Canada because of this law.

    I didn’t say the motivation for the law was racist, I implied the impact was racist. If its impact is 100% on non-whites, it is racist.

    “There are plenty of arguments against illegal immigration that don’t start with any kind of racism.” True. And those arguments are about our federal immigration policy which I mention in the next paragraph.

  3. I don’t believe that it’s true that a law can be racist. If illegal immigration is only perpetrated by one race (and I don’t believe that is necessarily true), then it isn’t racist to pass laws against it. I can’t see that at all.

  4. I don’t believe that it’s true that a law can be racist.

    Okay. Is the problem the term ‘racist’ rather than ‘discriminatory’? Maybe racist implies a will or cognition that a law can’t have.

    Laws can be discriminatory in two ways. The first is by directly discriminating, a/k/a on their face. Example: Persons of Chinese origin may not become citizens. The second way is indirectly discriminating, a/k/a disparate impact. Example: A person must be over 5’10” tall to be a police officer. (Thus, almost no women can be police officers.) There are rules about such laws, basically they have to meet a certain level of government interest and be more a less narrowly focused on meeting that interest.

    Now, regarding the once removed immigration laws, my connection to race was to explain Wallis’ comparison to the Fugitive Slave Act. In both cases, it became illegal to provide humanitarian aide to a class of people as a means of enforcing another law. And in both cases it affected people of a race that was typically on the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy. (Note: you didn’t have to be Black to be a slave, so the FSA did hypothetically impact non-Blacks.) In the case of the Fugitive Slave Act, the underlying law was clearly immoral. In the case of the OK Law (and others like it) the underlying law is not immoral.

    Question: Nonetheless, is a person morally compelled to provide aide, in violation of the law, to someone that person knows to be an illegal immigrant?

  5. Jim, I tend to agree with the argument that the Oklahoma immigration law is similar to the Fugitive Slave Act, but because of skin color and perceived status. I think it amazing that people retain the label “illegal immigrant”, though the illegal action took place often years before – and might have a potential remedy in law (asylum, cancellation of removal, etc.) Not to mention the fact that I do not see many Canadian visa overstays (who are white) accused of being “illegal”.

    However, I do take serious exception to this statement:

    I see federal immigration policy as almost entirely an economic issue.

    If federal immigration policy were entirely an economic issue, farmers in the southwest would have enough workers to harvest crops, there would not be an arbitrary cap on the number of highly skilled workers employers could sponsor to work in the U.S. and Microsoft would not have to open a plant in British Columbia instead of Washington State because they are unable to recruit enough qualified U.S. workers and import enough foreign workers to make up the difference.

    Employers do not sponsor and hire foreign-born workers because it is fun and provides them with cheap labor. It is much more expensive to import labor than to rely on a local workforce, and foreign-born workers sponsored by U.S. employers are paid at the same rates as U.S. workers – this is a requirement of immigration law.

    Immigration law and policy is based solely and completely upon politics and who is screaming louder. At some point in the distant past it was based on some idea of family unity and economic need, but that has gone by the wayside as white people scream about “dirty illegals who carry disease.” (and no, they weren’t talking about my Canadian overstay).

    I absolutely believe that much of the rancor in the immigration debate is fueled by local nativist activists who have somehow found their way into the mainstream. Somehow it has become ok to say that “illegals” cause high rates of crime (which has been disproved any number of times), etc. and not raise an eyebrow. People still say this about African Americans.

    The problem that the right wing runs into when talking about this issue is that (1) they oversimplify an incredibly complex issue; and (2) they do it by painting as the “other” a group that is seemingly simple to identify. While the broad idea of regulating immigration may be moral, persecuting a group because of a status is immoral. To take it one step further, identifying that group by the color of their skin and the language that they speak is also immoral.

    Sorry for the tome. I could argue for days about these things.

  6. Regina,

    First, thanks for the informed post. Just focusing on the motivations behind federal immigration policy, you disagree that it is driven by economics and I need some clarification on your support.

    If federal immigration policy were entirely an economic issue, farmers in the southwest would have enough workers to harvest crops, there would not be an arbitrary cap on the number of highly skilled workers employers could sponsor to work in the U.S. and Microsoft would not have to open a plant in British Columbia instead of Washington State because they are unable to recruit enough qualified U.S. workers and import enough foreign workers to make up the difference.

    Okay, so we are not doing a good job controlling the tap. As a result we are losing business to Canada and we have people entering the country without obtaining a permit to do so. But that all feels like economics to me. I don’t think we are providing so little immigration that it is immoral.

    Not talking about the national debate, which is littered with racist–although not exclusively racist–arguments, is our federal immigration immoral?

    (I, like you, had discounted the family unity motivation.)

  7. Casino Game Download tyuueooru
    Free Casino Bonus

    Also, check out whether or not their customer service is available 24/7.
    [url=http://www.nhgaa.org/]Web Casino[/url]
    Most significantly, it's necessary for you to conduct a thorough search regarding the best gambling websites out there.
    http://www.nhgaa.org/ – Top Online Casino

    No matter it's an absolutely free online casino or real money requiring online gambling, the true gambling pleasure can only be expected if the website you choose to enter is good enough to offer you exactly what you're looking for.

Leave a Reply