Last night's mid-week at Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL main campus) featured a dialog with Matthew Soerens, co-author of the immigration-related book "Welcoming the Stranger."
Three key points were made:
1 It isn't even financially possible to just deport everyone who has entered the U.S. without permission, or overstayed a visa. The cost of doing so would be in the trillions.
2 It isn't fair to just give such people unearned amnesty, as they have indeed violated legitimate laws in coming or over-staying here.
3 For some such persons, there is currently no legal way for them to make things right, short of leaving the U.S. and never returning, even if they have U.S. citizens in their immediate families.
Therefore, the discussion concluded, some process of legalization needs to be developed, some way for such persons to make things right without just going away forever.
The analogy offered was this: if no one obeys the 55 MPH speed limit on the Interstate highway, the cure is to raise the speed limit, and then strictly enforce the new limit. As applied to immigration, if we aren't enforcing our current laws, then let's change them to laws we ARE willing to enforce. (Otherwise, in a few more years, we'll be asked to legalize yet another batch of even-newer would-be immigrants, attracted by whatever amnesty is offered those here now.)
So far, so good. But as I left, I realize two more things are needful:
4 Before those who have NOT followed the rules are legalized, we FIRST need to welcome all the would-be immigrants who did follow the rules and applied for legal entry to the U.S.
5 Anyone being legalized needs to understand and commit to American core values -- nothing else holds us together as a nation.
Those who act as though America were the worst country in history are both incorrect and make it more difficult to welcome newcomers. Similarly, those who seek freedom here without affirming freedom for others may never be able to be safely welcomed.