A coalition of U.S. religious groups is launching a sanctuary movement to harbor illegal immigrants. Apparently, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim groups are opening churches and synagogues to shelter families of illegal immigrants. Proponents of the Sanctuary Movement speak of the immigration system that is broken and argue that the recent raids by the U.S. immigration authorities are immoral because they split families.
The arguments made by representatives of the Sanctuary Movement have many flaws, including:
- If the immigration system is "broken" it is because the laws have not been enforced vigorously, not because the existing immigration laws are flawed. The only flaw within our system that needs to be fixed, it that our government needs to become serious about enforcing our current laws and needs to devote adequate resources to the problem.
- The most important thing we can do to deter people from coming here illegally, is to send a message that there is no safe harbor once you have arrived. It is a well known fact that enforcement of the law deters crime. Conversely, when we fail to enforce the law, crime flourishes. The problem with the Sanctuary Movement is that it sends a message to all of those would be illegal immigrants, that if you manage to get to this country, you will be safe since the laws here are not enforced.
It is wrong for the Catholic Church or any other religious group to conspire with millions of people to violate our laws. If the church was protecting people from going back to face dangerous political oppression I may have a different view. But this is not the case. Instead, the church seems to have adopted this "Sanctuary Movement" because it will disturb "good people" and/or split families. In truth, the Catholic Church is taking a political position out of fear that it will lose members of the church.
There is nothing new about our country refusing to allow immigrants to remain here, even when it means that families will be split. Go to Ellis Island and hear the stories of men and women being sent back while their family members were allowed to enter our country. Our country has always been about allowing immigrants into our country. However, we have always reserved the right to be selective of who allow into our country and the number of people we want at a given period of time.
We already have a track record of giving people amnesty and we can now see how it did not work in curbing the massive inflow of illegal immigrants. Remember the 1980's? In the 1980's our country granted millions of people amnesty, with the promise that from that point on we would enforce our immigration laws. When we fast forward twenty years and see the 12 million new illegal immigrants who are taking residency within our communities, it is easy to see that being soft on immigration does not work. Instead we should try the simple and most proven approach . . . , the enforcement of our existing laws!
Written by Donald P. Schweitzer
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