16 January 2007

Straddling the Fence

Today is another one of those can of worms days. Sometimes I’m not sure which side of the fence I fall on (ha, I’m amusing myself with that pun), but I want to discuss the whole issue of building a fence between U.S. and Mexico. Yup, I just love getting myself in trouble. This issue has become more of a question in my mind while doing research for the book I’m working on.
I realize that the fence is a safety issue in that I’ve heard that terrorists are going to Mexico than accessing U.S. through that border. I also realize that this is affects issues with illegal immigration: economic, health care, education. But I keep coming across a couple of values that make it hard for me to say definitively we need to build that fence: hospitality and loving your neighbor as yourself. The ideal, of course, is that everyone who wishes to come to the States could go through the process and become citizens. However, the poor (who are more likely to want to come to pursue different opportunities), can’t get through the system. They would need a sponsor, and, honestly, how are they supposed to meet said sponsor?
Let me give you the model of the people of Indiantown, FL. When the Mayans were fleeing genocide in Guatemala, the people of Indiantown took them in, fed them, got them jobs, bound their wounds, taught them how to live in the U.S. (simple things like using Laundromats and showers, shopping in grocery stores, cooking on gas grills, disinfecting after working in fields that swim with pesticides), taught them English, set up schools where migrant kids intermingled with permanent residents. These Mayan Guatemalans worked for their citizenship and are now productive members of society. If there had been a fence, these Mayans would have been stuck. They first fled to Mexico, and though Mexico did not kick them out, the Guatemalan army raided the refuge camps in Mexico. The Mayans realized they needed to go further.

    Resource: Children of the Maya: A Guatemalan Indian Odyssey by Brent Ashabranner (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1986.

This is risky with all the homeland security issues, I know, but the Christian faith is risky. You might even get killed for it, Jesus said.
What about separation of church and state? you may ask. This smacks of Christianity. But our beliefs always undergird our vote. Why else would I continue to affirm the whole “do not murder” law the land has? Because I believe human life is to be valued and that murder is wrong. In this case, I believe the command to love your neighbor to be pertinent. I believe our value of hospitality should outweigh our value of security.
Yes, it presents difficulty. But how much more beautiful would it look to work with the Mexican and other govts to eliminate the risk (i.e. the risk of terrorists taking advantage of the situation)? How much more beautiful would it look to aid both other countries to eliminate the need for migration as well as helping the individuals become productive members of society?
Yes, some will take advantage of us. But there will always be those who take advantage of grace.

6 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

This is the stuff of a good debate. I could see some arguing that protecting a nation from terrorism is a form of compassion, for both rich and poor alike. In a crisis, the poor will always fare worse.

I do wonder if there's any reason to believe that the border has been too soft... letting in actual terrorists... or if this is just a fear tactic used by those who always prefer fences.

Willowtree said...

I am 100% behind the fence (see, I can make a pun too), or should I say I totally support the fence (sorry).

Enough of that, I think the fence is a great idea, in fact I think it should go all the way around. Anything that will help stop America from invading other countries is a good thing.

Pamela said...

I have a fenced yard.

Neighbors dogs stay out of my yard.
Not the cats, though.

What bugs me is people like Sylvester Stallone talking big words down in Mexico about how he thinks a fence is wrong.... when you know very well he has a security fence around his private property in Malibu or wherever he lives.

I enjoy giving.
To receivers.
Then there are takers

different feeling about them.

L.L. Barkat said...

Willowtree... oh, that was a good setup!

Erin said...

"Yes, some will take advantage of us. But there will always be those who take advantage of grace."

That's a great line, Heather. I wonder how many Americans, how many Christians operate under that mentality. "I'm your friend, whether you are a friend back, or simply a user." Hospitality is sometimes a very costly thing for the giver.

I've heard it said by more than one foreigner that Americans are extremely friendly people, but they are not very good at being friends. Ouch.

Beyond Words said...

I wonder what US policies contribute to poverty in Mexico? Just like I wonder what would have happened if we had not invaded Iraq. I wonder when God will judge us for not caring for the orphans and widows. I wonder, but don't know how to respond except in my own little sphere and by praying for the Church to awaken and arise.