Friday, December 29, 2006

Why Immigration is Good for America

My critic hoodlum, who has come from his usual haunt at the Curt Jester, to keep me intellectually honest, has challenged me in the last post on the birth stats in NYC, saying that Third World immigration is a good thing, escpecially since most of them are Catholic. And to his surprise, I agree with him.
Pope John Paul II when he came to the US for World Youth Day in Colorado in 1993, entreated us to welcome the stranger. He never stipulated that they be carrying visas. So, I welcome immigrants to our shores, and hope now that Congress is Democrat that they can allow President Bush to pass true immigration reform with guest worker provisions for those who are here illegally(proving there's a silver lining to every disaster!).
Illegal immigration is unfair to the immigrant who is exploited, as well as dangerous for a country in the terrorist crosshairs, and we must protect our borders from those who would harm us, while allowing in the laborers we need.
Besides justice for the poor, largely Hispanic, immigrant trying to feed large families back home, I have more personal interests in immigrants. You see, I married a Salvadorean refugee in 1992, and we have three daughters. A part of our income has gone to support his 12 siblings and their families there, send them to college, and bring them here. Four of his siblings are here, raising families, working legally, and adjusting to this culture. Three of his sisters are currently awaiting green cards. They are nurses, and an architect(he attended his sister Juana's graduation from nursing school in El Salvador this August, see photo here).
This would not have been possible without 20 years of sending money home to them. My husband fled during the US intervention in the civil war in El Salvador, which, by the way, he supported. He just didn't want to be recruited into either side by force, and had to provide for his family.
He loves this country, obtained citizenship in 1998, and is working in the internet technology field. He worked his way there from a construction job, going to night school, and finally obtaining his Associates Degree online.His story is not singular. I teach in a Community College English as a Second Language
Program, and see hundreds of immigrants in the same path. They had to take circuitous routes to final exams last spring because of immigration raids here on Long Island which reportedly took parents into custody without regard to their children at home.
This is a topic which shouldn't be discussed with slogans and soundbites, or with emotional name calling. You now know what perspective I come from. Let's discuss this as Catholics.

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