Thursday, June 16, 2011

Alabama's New Immigration Bill

I was appalled last year by Arizona's new immigration bill, now I am both appalled and distressed by my own state's harsh immigration bill. One of my problems with these bills is that if it did not benefit our society to have undocumented immigrants working here, they would not be here. Increasingly over the past 2 or 3 decades, we have willingly paid these immigrant people to mow our lawns, do our housework, clean our hotels, dig our ditches, work on our construction crews, and do any number of dangerous jobs in the meat-packing industry and other types of unskilled labor. We have used them for our advantage (or I should say, our society has). Now we are getting a little uneasy and anxious, so we are using drastic legal tactics. It is as though we are shocked and outraged that all of these aliens whom we have employed at low wages (and without reporting said payments) are somehow in our midst.

There are scriptures that advocate that we respect the alien in our midst; that we not mistreat or take advantage of them. Instead, we first took advantage of them, and now we aim to mistreat them, and our governor who likes to make a big deal about his faith just smiles and signs the bill. Leviticus admonished the Hebrew people to “remember that you were once aliens.” All of us white Americans in the U.S. should likewise remember that we were once immigrants.

Roger Lovette, who has actually read the entire bill, has written an important piece on his blog Head and Heart. The title of his piece is "Wondering about Immigration - Sunset in Alabama?" He uses a beautiful poem by Langston Hughes as the backdrop for his comments. I highly recommend it for you reading. You can find the essay here.



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