Sunday, August 19, 2007

Elvira and the Illegals: A Road Show to Support?

Elvira ArellanoLike a rock star going out on tour, illegal alien Elvira Arellano, after a year holed up in a Chicago Methodist Church, is taking her "Bush hates illegal Mexicans" rhetoric on the road, and is now seeking sanctuary in Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in L.A. Although some find it reassuring that the dozen or so Christian churches around the country (yes, Ms. Arellano is planning on being a big shot at the Washington, D.C. I.I. rally in September, so you can bet she's booked her reservations at a sanctuary church there too) that shelter illegals are of all different denominations, I'm not so sure. In fact, while the pro-life movement may be the best way to promote Christian ecumenism, supporting illegal immigration may be the worst, and here's why.

The pros and cons of the problem are summed up by two of my favorite (if wildly divergent) radio DJs, Relevant Radio's conservatively Catholic Drew Mariani and WLUPs "Crazy in Chicago" Jonathan Brandmeier. On the one hand Mariani, who always presents issues in a compelling yet faithful-to-the-magisterium manner, says, "if I were a Mexican father who couldn't support his family [in Mexico], I'm not sure I wouldn't do what I had to do and cross the border too," whereas the "comedy-for-the-common-man" Brandmeier simply states, "I hate when the country says it's not okay to do something—but it really is. That's double talk!" In effect, both Drew and Johnny B are right, but the way Elvira and the sanctuary churches operate within this framework is not.

Again as stated in my previous blog, if the U.S. wasn't hiring illegals, they wouldn't be here, at least not twelve million of them. But now that American capitalism has lured almost as many illegal Mexicans as it has dangerous imported Chinese-made Mattel toys (at last count eighteen million), steps must be taken—and Ms. Arellano's case is a classic example of how not to handle things. First she was hired by Chicago's O'Hare airport in 2002 to clean airplanes, only to be later arrested for deportation. That O'Hare, where custom officials actually took me aside and confiscated my shaving cream (although my bargain brand can of Barbosol has been described as nasty, I never considered it lethal) could hire an illegal alien in the aftermath of 911 is certainly amazing, but still not the main point of this discussion. Rather it proves that the people who hired her made the biggest gaff and thus should pay the biggest penalty. Pinning all the blame on illegals is the equivalent of finding nine-year-olds (when the minimum age was supposed to be ten) working in factories at the turn of the century and putting them in jail instead of the owners, or finding slaves in the pre-Civil War South being over-worked, and beating them instead of their masters. Those in charge of doing the hiring must bear the brunt of the blame up to and including those at the very top. While the CEOs of Walmart or MacDonald's now claim they are too far removed from the everyday store level decisions to be responsible, you can bet if they too were threatened with jail time, that the hiring of illegal aliens would cease.

Still, this does not mean that Elvira and her cohorts are not culpable, and certainly doesn't mean that churches should give her illegal activity sanctuary, let alone a soapbox. When arrested (and yes it is not wrong to arrest someone for breaking the law), working illegals should not be given mandatory jail time like their employer, nor instant deportation like violent criminals. Instead they (especially those with natural born children) should be given the chance to learn English and find legal employment within a strict period of time, or else be escorted back to Mexico. AT THIS point, if churches wanted to help them, either with temporary shelter by teaching them English, or helping them find a job, THAT would be another story. But to shelter illegals when they have no intention of becoming citizens (and in effect encouraging their anti-American sentiment) is merely misguided mercy. The politicians may be afraid to challenge either industry (which supplies them money) or (Hispanic) minorities (who supply them votes) but the church cannot be. By housing illegal aliens, it is not only encouraging a secret shadow subculture, but discouraging businesses from ever paying them a just living wage. Civil disobedience will always have its place in our nation, but fighting for the rights of unborn children is one thing, and aiding an angry mob of aliens who will not work to become citizens is most certainly another.

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