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Sunday, January 18, 2015

History will judge us by immigration resolution

GEORGE TEMPLETON
COMMENTARY
American Alien
"Nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so" - Shakespeare
By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist
”The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules.  It is up to us to make sense of it and give it value.”  Sean Carroll
Small pieces reveal the fabric of the whole, but we have to be careful to not miss the forest for the trees.  The whole, like the behavior of a gas instead of its individual atoms, is simpler than its parts.  Though nature’s rules are ultimately interconnected in a web, they do not always strongly interact in the straightforward ways we experience them.
Some people know, by the intensity of their conviction, that the way things are is entirely God’s will.  Others view it as a coincidence coming from the rules of probability and the phenomenon of time.  But no one really knows.  There is no proof.  God is not necessarily closer to the simple rules or to the value judgments made by humans.
Immigration is like the sound of a beautiful musical instrument.  Your computer might have sound or wave processing software.  Perhaps you have seen those sounds graphed on the web and are unable to find words to describe them.  The French mathematician Fourier found how to decompose waves into simple easily described parts.  We will try to do the same with immigration.  In the following we will think, almost scientifically, unavoidably philosophically, certainly politically, and nearly religiously, about it.
What goes around comes around
Interactions create complexity, obscuring underlying simplicity.  They are like taxes and spending.  A change in one influences the other.  Both influence our economy.
When things are at right angles and independent of one another, they do not cast shadows, impeding our ability to see clearly.  When we see things within the shadows, our discernment of colors and shades is impaired, and things fall into the pigeon-holes of our minds.  
 When politicians impugn the intent of the Obama administration to secure the border, shadows are cast.  When they claim that the other party is at fault for the divisiveness in society, they further divide.  Intentionally inflammatory claims that the “well has been poisoned”, reveal a view that everything is interdependent.  Such interactions make problems intractable to solution.
Albert Camus wrote, “Somebody has to have the last word.  Otherwise, every reason can be met with another one and there would be no end to it.”
Immigration is one of the main threads of American history and culture.  Yesterday and today it has substantially the same social rules and value judgments, but lawmakers failed in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2014, and policies are not converging.  Why?
What comes in must go out or else it is going to pile up.
Flow happens in both directions, in and out.  It applies to electric current, gas through pipes, traffic through cities, and ignoring death, immigrants.  What comes out of a process may have been altered by it.  America changes immigrants who should be treated according to their personal situation.
The Bible tells the story of the Exodus, advising us in Deuteronomy 10:19 to “Love the stranger:  For you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”  Leviticus 19:34 reminds us “…The stranger that dwells among you shall be unto you as one born among you…” Matthew 25:35 says, “… I was a stranger, and you took me in.”
The church comes down on both sides of immigration.  The church has given sanctuary to unaccompanied Central American children who are desperate somebodies, not nobodies, seeking refuge in America, but many would send them back to the violence they were trying to escape.  Like the culture war and politics, religion is split down the middle on this with roughly half of Americans favoring “It’s the law, deport them”.
The religious right is a powerful force that raises over one billion dollars annually.  The American Center for Law and Justice / Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism has been in the forefront of “no amnesty”.  They choose the “right congressional way” and work to defeat the President’s executive order instead of caring about people.
Would Jesus deport the parents of children? He was a compassionate, loving, non-judgmental, peaceful, forgiving Jew who taught that the kingdom of God was personal and within.
Suppose that the amount of illegal immigration could be cut in half.  Would that be enough?  If not, then take steps to cut it in half again.  You can see that this process can never completely eliminate illegal immigration.  Consensus cannot be achieved until costs are weighed against benefits.
Where you are at depends on where you have been.
We remember the past but not the future.  We can change the future but not the past.  Everything exists in time and will eventually pass away.
Where we have been was a world where cheap illegal labor could not be passed over.  Now the debate concerns a path to future citizenship.
Fear of change drives our reluctance to accept an evolving future.  As the advertisement goes, “Don’t touch it, you broke it!”  However, accepting the status quo of a hidden underclass fosters crime and social inequality.  Fear of deportation means that victims and witnesses of wrongdoing do not report to the police. 
We should not be envious about our President’s executive order.  The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy 2013 report found that undocumented immigrants pay eleven billion dollars annually in income, sales, and property taxes and that legalizing their working would increase that number by two billion while criminalization would force them off the books denying the U.S. Treasury of billions.  Yet approximately half the states bitterly oppose and are suing the President over his action that would give them a temporary reprieve from deportation.  Immigrants are people, not Republicans or Democrats.
It is harder to propose a comprehensive policy that is just, humanitarian, and economical than to make political gain by framing a fix that tears down and focuses on whether the President followed alleged rules.
Things just keep on keeping on
Newton found that a force is necessary to stop things once they have been set in motion.  This is also in globalization and expanding diversity of races, cultures, and religions in America.
We are told that it is possible, likely, and extrapolated, that non-citizens are voting in jaw-dropping numbers, but Hispanic citizens are not voting.  Would noncitizen voters risk deportation and criminal conviction for one vote?  Does one bad apple spoil the bushel?  Why should we worry about mere possibilities while ignoring probabilities?
Many illegal immigrants are socially conservative, and stakeholders in the American dream.  Conservatives have tried to pass laws to make them and those come in contact with, such as teachers and landlords, into felons.  Why would anyone want to criminalize conduct that is otherwise lawful, makes jobs, and contributes to the treasury?
Undocumented immigrants, children brought to America by their parents at an early age, have committed no crime.  They speak only English, have American values and popular culture, and know no country other than America.  Would you deprive them of the right to drive and deport them?
Disorder always increases.
Disorder is unavoidable.  It is the idea that heat always flows from hot to cold and a drop of ink in a glass of water assimilates throughout the liquid, never reorganizing to form the original drop.  It forms the direction of time.  It is not inherent in nature’s simple rules, but rather is a consequence of multiple, complex, random interactions.  It is an example of how nature’s rules emerge from what seems to be chaos.
Suppose there was a demon who could make heat flow from cold to hot by operating a value between two enclosures that would direct the hottest molecules from the cold box to the hot box, so as to make cold colder and hot hotter, thereby permitting frying eggs with ice cubes.  The only problem is that the demon does not work for free.  “No amnesty” is also not free.
The assimilation dream is that no door should be closed to those with the necessary aptitude, ability, and ambition and that working should be compatible with education.  Throughout history, minorities came to America to climb the ladder, starting at the bottom.  We make the mistake of blaming their poverty on them.  Don’t you think that we should try to get to know one another a little better?  We could compare our observations with the rhetoric that stereotypes and demonizes.
Nature is symmetrical
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and DNA science reveal our similarity.  We can put our hand in a bucket of water and stir it, but when the hand is removed the water returns to equilibrium and it is hard to tell that it was ever there.  Regardless of our ethnic, cultural, and religious differences, we share nature’s pattern and rhythm.  It provides the opportunity to broaden experience, participate, share, and enjoy life more fully. 
The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
Geometry is common sense and a basis for logical thinking.  We live in a linear universe, but on a spherical globe the shortest distance path between two points is a curved line. 
Curvature is wild and unappreciated.  It is the geometric progression, exponential growth, and the limiting infinity in math.  Geometric progressions can be found in pandemic disease, compound interest and minority population growth. 
There was a time when America was WASP, (white, Anglo-Saxon, and protestant), but that curves toward diversity in race, culture, and religion.  The average age of a white American is about forty years.  Hispanics average about twenty-seven.  One of every two people added to the nation’s population is Hispanic.
The possible can’t be proven
If A, then B!  Do we really understand connections?        
The news reported that increased crime is disproportionately “linked” with immigration.  A statistical correlation had been found.  It carried the credibility of a national news story, but it lacked the understanding that correlation is not causation.  The link was missing.
Truth is beautiful and simple
The words of Hamlet are true:  “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  History’s   judgment of America will depend upon how we deal with the path to citizenship.  Will we be courageous and appreciative, or paranoid and fearful?  Humility reminds us that when we play with fire our fingers might get burnt.

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