American flag appropriated by illegal immigrants
By Michael M. Bates
"We are not criminals," was constantly intoned at rallies around the country last week. That's nonsense.
People who break the law to enter the United States are by definition criminals. Even if, as at the Washington rally televised on C-SPAN, venerated legislators such as Senator Teddy Kennedy say they aren't.
Notable was the Massachusetts solon having a translator interpret his words. The crowd shouldn't have expected much fluency from Ted. After all, he was tossed out of Harvard for having another student take a Spanish examination for him.
John Kennedy, president when the story about his brother's peccadillo (transgressions by liberals are often "peccadilloes") was about to break, summoned the reporter to the Oval Office and fruitlessly tried to kill the story. JFK told the newspaper man that the administration was "having more (expletive deleted) trouble with this than the Bay of Pigs." Ah, those golden days of Camelot.
One doesn't have to guess how Teddy Boy would react if the current president similarly attempted to intimidate the press. He'd be blusteringly outraged. It might even be enough to drive him to drink.
Anyway, Teddy administered a quiz of his own last Monday. He asked the demonstrators in rapid succession if they had a good job, if they loved their family, if they loved their community, and if they loved America. Amazingly, they knew all the rights answers and reacted by cheering and frenziedly waving American flags.
Admittedly, they're not the only lawbreakers in the illegal immigrant imbroglio. So are the employers who knowingly hire them and often pay them under the table. Prosecuting those employers might help stanch the invasion.
Many demonstrators are people new to our ways, but they're quick studies. Realizing that parading Mexican flags and other foreign banners, as they have at previous rallies, isn't smart PR-wise, they switched to Old Glory last week.
Still there are rough edges. For folks who claim they urgently want to be assimilated into the American mainstream, assemblies held almost exclusively in a foreign tongue don't seem consistent.
And a female reverend from the United Church of Christ addressing the crowd appeared to receive more wolf whistles than applause. Washington's Cardinal McCarrick received a welcome devoid of whistles despite making most of his comments in Spanish. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for immigration reform that includes "a broad legalization program." Can you say amnesty, boys and girls?
I'm not a theologian, as regular readers may have noticed. To this layman, though, the bishops' policy conflicts with official teaching as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The pertinent section states:
"The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able (emphasis added), to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin." Additionally, "Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws (emphasis added), and to assist in carrying civic burdens."
I would argue that we're at the point of exhaustion in terms of allowing unlimited admission to these shores. First, there are legitimate security concerns. The War on Terror cannot be set aside. If we don't know who's entering, how do we know what their purpose here is?
Then there is the question of our ability to support our uninvited guests. Two years ago one study found that the state of California was paying more than $10 billion a year in education, health care and incarceration costs. A substantial percentage of individuals in jail are here illegally.
It's claimed that America actually makes money from unlawful immigrants because they pay into the tax and Social Security systems. That ignores how many of them are part of the underground economy.
The Catechism also requires immigrants to obey the laws of this country. Coming here illegally flies directly in the face of that. Once again the bishops seem to have confused Church teaching with their eagerness to be politically correct.
The demonstrations are designed to engender support for those here illegally. My guess is they're doing exactly the opposite.
We can feel a deep sympathy for the plight of many of the people involved. They are doing what seems to them best for themselves and their families. It's a pity that the countries they're escaping from, many of which are socialist and corrupt, can't create a sufficiently large job market for industrious workers who have much to offer.
If I were in their circumstances, maybe I'd do what they are doing. But that doesn't mean the United States can abdicate its responsibilities to current citizens.
A country that can't control its own borders can't control its destiny. The border with Mexico can be secured, but only if the political will exists.
Over and over we're told about how we are a nation of immigrants. That's true. Legal immigrants, not lawbreakers with a sweeping sense of entitlement who insist our rules be changed to decriminalize them.
Mike Bates is the author of Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths. This essay orginally appeared in the April 13, 2006 Oak Lawn Reporter.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!