February 19, 2016 by eneubauer
It does not take an intellectual genius to understand what Pope Francis was saying aboard the Papal plane en route to Rome. Pope Francis, reflecting on the constant talk about building a wall between the United States and Mexico, stated “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
The Pope diagnosed the problem correctly. Those who believe that simply building a wall solves the varied and diverse problems along our southern border do not know what they are talking about. The United States needs security for sure but the politicians have a history of using a band-aid when stitches are needed. Politicians want the easy way out rather than comprehensive solutions that benefit all.
No doubt we need security along our souther border but that cannot and should not happen unless we have a commitment from our politicians to bring the legal immigration process into the 21st century. Our current immigration policy and the apparatus / infrastructure that manages the flow of legal migrants is so outdated that, for many, immigrating legally to the United States is almost impossible.
First, I worked on a University campus for six years decades ago. Many of the students I knew were international students and some from prominent families. Simply getting a visa to come and study in this country was unnecessarily laborious. Now put yourself in that situation but remove the fact that your father and / or mother work for a multi-national corporation and you have the money, time and patience to wade through the complex visa process. What do you do? You are desperate, hungry and simply tired of surviving. You have heard from your relatives, who have successfully immigrated to the U.S., how wonderful life is and how (relatively) easy it is to obtain work. Most of us, in that situation, would swim the Rio Grande and come by any means necessary.
Second, I was getting to know some of the other mothers at our ballet school in Dallas, Texas. I entered into a conversation with a Canadian who moved here with her husband to work for a U.S. based company. After a period of time and finding that they really loved the U.S. they decided to enter the process of becoming U.S. citizens (legal immigration). She described the time and money it took to successfully navigate that process. At the time of our conversation she was still waiting for the YES (having described an unusually long waiting period). Now, if the U.S. has’t figured out how to fast-track Canadians earning six-figures, paying taxes, and lending their skills to make this country “great again” then we are all in deep trouble. But, this is the system and the country our politicians have created.
Think about it! If we have a hard time on-boarding the smartest and brightest from around the world to come study, work and assimilate into American life / culture then think about the difficulties the working poor have in coming to experience the opportunity of America. Oh, for the naysayers who state that the working poor are more drain then benefit to American society / culture. My response is:
- Give back the equity you currently have in your home built (largely) by migrant labor. That non-union labor artificially suppresses new home prices.
- Stop buying cheap fruit harvested by seasonal migrant labor.
- Next time you want your hotel room cleaned – simply hang up the towel and make your own bed b/c many of our hospitality workers are migrants from Mexico, Central and South America.
- Forget competitively priced house cleaning / maintenance. Landscape and lawncare – forget about it! Oh, and great restaurants featuring the best in Mexican and Central American fare – done, over, caput.
- Finally, get ready to embrace the brain drain from our Universities and Colleges. Our international students, who represent some of the hardest working among us, don’t need to come b/c we want to make it harder not easier for folks to experience the American dream. Oh, by the way – if we go down this road America can say goodbye of our ability to influence the next generation of international leaders studying at our universities b/c we want student visas to remain hard to obtain. No need to upgrade the visa process with 21st century technology and processes.
See, there are unintended consequences by our collective unwillingness to have an adult conversation about comprehensive immigration reform. We have allowed the politicians from opposing parties to hijack the conversation and keep the American public highly polarized on this subject and many others. Catholic’s specifically and Christians in general need to wake up and take leadership positions on these subjects and demand our politicians respond based on the will of the people. We must demand that our politicians work for all Americans and not just party preference. In addition, all who call themselves Christians would do well to slow down on the instant commentary and negative reaction to what Pope Francis said and think about his words carefully.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,”
I for one want to be known as a smart bridge builder among all my neighbors. Together we can build a nation that is safe and at peace.