A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Newt Gingrich on Immigration

At the last Republican presidential candidate debate, former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, took a position on immigration that will no doubt alienate him from some conservative constituents. During the debate he said the following:
If you've come here recently, you have no ties to this country, you ought to go home. Period. If you've been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully, and kick you out.
Gingrich went on to say that the Republican Party, which upholds family values, should not be separating families because they originally came here illegally.

As is the case on so many issues, I find that both the Republicans and the Democrats have not got it completely right. I do believe that any nation has a right to secure its borders and I do not understand why the political left seems unconcerned about that. At the same time I strongly disagree with those on the political right that would separate families on account of illegal immigration to the United States. The right's concern with only securing the border doesn't go far enough in reference to what needs to be done. On the other side, the left's concern for comprehensive immigration reform appears to me to be nothing more than an excuse to whittle away at a nation's need to secure the border and is nothing more than a mantra for keeping everything as it is in order to secure votes from immigrant populations.

What do you think? All perspectives, expressed civilly, are welcome.


Robert Cornwall said...

The position Newt outlined is in line with what many on the "left" have been advocating. The issue isn't whether to control the borders, but rather to find a sensible solution to a long-standing issue that goes back to the fact that Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California were once part of Mexico, but illegal aliens from the north infiltrated and eventually took over. I suppose you could say that Santa Anna was intent on controlling his border.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your response. I have no doubt that there are those on the left who take the position you outline, but I get a strong sense of some others that they are simply talking about comprehensive reform in order to pander to the immigrant vote. And yes, I have no doubt that the right is pandering to get their constituent vote as well.

Your thoughts?

Robert Cornwall said...

Both sides pander. I agree. You could say that Newt is looking beyond the primaries to the general election where a broader notion of immigration exists than on the right wing that is dominating the primary season.

But whatever is the case, both sides of the conversation need to recognize facts on the ground. As Newt pointed out we're not sending back 12 million people.

Interestingly enough due to a growing economy in Mexico and lack of opportunities here, there is a lot of migration south.

I think there are several areas that we should get bi-partisan cooperation.

1. Pass the DREAM act. If you have grown up in the US, have worked hard enough to get into college or serve in the military, then you should have an opportunity to get citizenship.

2. Reform immigration rules that make it difficult for migrant laborers to get back and forth, and make getting citizenship difficult.

3. As for the border, building fences and posting the military won't resolve the problem until we decide how we want to deal with the labor issue.

An excellent source of information from the "front lines" of this issue is Humane Borders, which was founded by Robin Hoover, a Disciples pastor with a Ph.D. from Texas Tech. Robin is on the left, but he's realistic -- and I find his ideas on the mark.


PamBG said...

This is a typical response that most countries see when the economy deteriorates. Immigrants who are welcome to do the jobs that the natives don't want in good economic times become unwelcome when times are hard.

Doing a bit of Christian theological reflection and setting aside the proposed actions, I'm hearing an attitude that immigrants are not quite human and a heavy implication that immigrants are parasites. I don't believe that can be reconciled with a Christian theological view of personhood.

I'd point out that I did not pay much[1] US tax between 1987 and 2009 when I didn't live here, so why am I not a blot on US society?

[1]"Not much" because the US demands certain federal income taxes from US citizens living abroad. Most people don't know that. Ex-patriots are subject to taxation without representation by the US government, which hardly any other government in the world demands. Just sayin'

Chuck Tackett said...

Interesting conversation but I would add a couple of notes. First, "securing" the border is a myth. Just watch a couple of episodes of "Border Wars" on the National Geographic channel and you'll see that there is no such thing as a secure border as is meant in the political diatribe.

Second, there is a lot of truth to the notion expressed above about American citizens not willing to work at the jobs or pay which undocumented residents are willing to work. However, it's also became a very lucrative form of human trafficking to get workers here and then work them 60 hours a week for minimum wage or less, no overtime, no benefits...

This is one of the most difficult issues we face, affecting almost every part of our society. the political and religious rhetoric don't cut much below the surface of what's involved and at stake.

PamBG said...

However, it's also became a very lucrative form of human trafficking to get workers here and then work them 60 hours a week for minimum wage or less, no overtime, no benefits...

I totally agree. And then we call them lazy, selfish loafers who want to sponge off the American people when times are bad.

The whole system is a great example of something Allan said not to long ago regarding another subject - I think it was on Facebook - "Just because something is legal, doesn't make it moral."