Human rights traditionally have argued against nations forcibly preventing their population from leaving, a la the Berlin Wall. But do human rights compel all nations automatically to grant quick entrance to all comers? The moral distinction is similar to the difference between holding a visitor in your home against his or her will, which the law typically regards as abduction or enslavement, versus requiring you to open your home to all potential uninvited guests, no matter their behavior or length of stay or attitude towards you as the owner. And as to the distinction between free trade and unlimited immigration, wheat and electronics and automobiles are perishables whose purchase and sales are regulated by the open market. Humans obviously have vastly more moral importance, require far more attention and services, exert a much larger economic and cultural impact, and, unlike televisions or cell phones, have families with their own complicated requirements.
Of course, there are extreme libertarians who would treat immigrants as commodities simply meeting economic needs. But presumably religious groups should not share that perspective. Nations are morally empowered to control immigration precisely because both potential immigrants and citizens have enormous moral importance and merit protection from avoidable upheaval and disruption. But the Isaiah prayer and fast coalition disapproves of regulated borders, complaining that immigration law enforcement results in families “ripped apart” and “racial profiling.”
Unsurprisingly, The Episcopal Church stands with the Isaiah fast and prayer coalition. Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori recently blamed the U.S. for encouraging illegal immigration because we have a “broken system that encourages people to come here to work or to study– and then to stay [by creating legal, social, and economic ties] — without adequate opportunity to do so in a legal way.” In other words, persons in the U.S. on temporary work or student visas have an automatic right to remain indefinitely? Schori wants churches to “challenge the legal realities of this country when they’re unjust.” But she seems to think any legal restrictions on immigration are manifestly “unjust.”
Darkly, Bishop Schori linked America’s supposed injustice against illegal immigrants to other American outrages:
Once we’ve done it in one segment of our legal system, it’s easy to translate that into other segments of our legal system: the way we’ve treated prisoners in Guantanamo, the way we’ve treated prisoners—apparent prisoners of war—in other parts of the world is not unrelated.
Here is how the Religious Left often sees America: a malevolent prison keeper.
Every year, America invites in one million more legal immigrants, and naturalizes another one million who are already here. Probably, the U.S. is unequaled in the world in its liberality towards immigrants. But the prayers and fasters of the Religious Left’s “Isaiah 58 Solidarity Vigil and Fast for Arizona” coalition prefer not to admit America’s generosity, preferring their notion of America as global villain. It’s amazing that so many in the world still want to come to America, despite its supposed nastiness.
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