Despite the current rhetoric, the flow of millions of illegal workers to this country has not yet created an economic crisis, a political crisis, or a national security crisis. But it has created a moral crisis.
I've said it hundreds of times and I will continue to say it: People matter most. Right now, millions of people are suffering and it's time that we got serious about the situation.
Every summer, here in Texas and other border states, migrants from Latin America die horrible deaths. They succumb to thirst or fatigue crossing barren land. They suffocate in the backs of packed trailers and railroad cars. Typically, the women and children die first. Yet, they still come by the millions.
Why? Two reasons: their own countries encourage them to leave and we encourage them to come.
The primary reason we have an illegal immigration problem is due to corruption and mismanagement on the part of the governments of Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Columbia and a few other countries south of the border. The income gap between the United States and Mexico is the largest between any two contiguous countries in the world, according to Stanford historian David Kennedy.
Of course people want to come to the United States. Who blames them?
The motivation for allowing undocumented workers into our country ranges from corruption to compassion. Politicians turn a blind eye to the situation to avoid losing votes from the Hispanic community. Some social activists and labor unions exploit the situation for their own personal gain. Many greedy companies benefit from cheap labor because they want to get as much as possible while giving as little as possible. Paradoxically, the goodness of average Americans contributes to the problem. We like to give people in need an opportunity to succeed and we know that the vast majority of those coming are decent, hardworking people simply trying to learn valuable trades and improve their families' lives.
What we all seem to miss is the fact that the current climate constitutes a moral crisis of the highest order. Families are torn apart as able-bodied men leave their wives and children, some never to return. Communities in the poorest regions of Latin America spiral into deeper poverty as the talented and dedicated laborers go north. Human traffickers, known as "coyotes," reap the benefits of smuggling people across the border, often extorting shameful amounts of money from their "cargo." Migrants passing through Mexico are robbed, beaten and raped by bandits and even the police. Hospitals along the border shut down under the burden of poor, uninsured patients, leaving everyone without adequate medical care.
Illegal immigration will continue to be a problem as long as the economic and political conditions in the United States are drastically better than those in neighboring countries. A small percentage of our neighbors reap short-term benefits from the status quo, but for the long-term good of the whole population, we must have the courage to reform our immigration laws to provide a clear pathway to citizenship, secure the borders, and pressure failed governments to eradicate corruption and pursue aggressive economic policies.
We must also begin to respect our own laws by enforcing the ones already on the books. Lax enforcement instills disrespect for the law and we cannot expect immigrants, either legal or illegal, to respect our laws if we ourselves do not. Businesses that willfully employ illegal aliens must be penalized to the point that the risks outweigh the rewards.
It has been said that good intentions pave the road to hell. Too many poor, desperate Latinos travel that road. Without reform, the human rights of millions will continue to be routinely violated. For the sake of those without a voice -- neither in their home countries, nor in the United States -- we must pursue a humane policy of immigration and regional development because it is the right thing to do -- right for people.
Author: James Robison
Word Count: 650
About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE
Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host
of the television program, Life
Today; and author of The Absolutes.
Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net
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complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.