Category: immigration

Dallas preacher says Jesus would seal the border

JeffressBy Alan Bean

The Rev. Robert Jeffress thinks Jesus would build a fence at the U.S. border so desperate children from violence-ridden countries would be discouraged from heading north.

“Yes, Jesus loved children,” Jeffress admits, “but he also respected law. He said, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars.”

In other words, Christians shouldn’t trouble themselves with immigration policy; that’s Caesar’s concern.

Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, once suggested that Barack Obama is preparing the world for the coming of Antichrist, so his “Caesar” reference probably doesn’t mean that we should leave immigration policy in the hands of the presiding president.  He means instead that everything Jesus said about welcoming children, and all the warnings he pronounced against those who harden their hearts against the pain of young ones, is irrelevant to American immigration policy.

Sure, Christians must be kind to the children they encounter within the suburban bubble, but the boys and girls of Honduras simply are on their own.

Since nothing can be done for the unaccompanied migrant children on our doorstep, the most compassionate course is to build a border wall so thick and so tall that the poor little blighters will have no choice but to return to the violence and squalor that drove them into the arms of America.

That young girl of seven or eight, carrying her two-year old sister on her back has spawned a crisis of conscience among American Christians.

On the whole, we have responded admirably.  “This is an unfortunate, even awful, situation for everyone,” said David Hardage,  Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. “So much of what has happened and is happening is out of our control. What we can control is our response to human need. We will try to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need.”

Hardage sees Jesus standing on the side of desperate children, an assumption shared by most Texas Baptists.

Terry Henderson, state disaster relief director for Texas Baptist Men, compressed the issue to a simple question: “If Jesus was standing here with us, what would he tell us to do? That sounds kind of basic, but that’s the deal.”

That’s supposed to be a rhetorical question, but Robert Jeffress doesn’t provide the expected answer.  He thinks Jesus would slam the door.  Call it tough love. (more…)

Rubio decides he isn’t Latino after all

Apparently not

By Alan Bean

The sad story of Marco Rubio explains why we won’t be seeing comprehensive immigration reform anytime soon.

Like Ted Cruz, Rubio is the child of Cuban immigrants who became American citizens without having to stand in line for day, let alone a decade.  As refugees from the hated Castro regime, Cubans receive special treatment at the border and it shows in their politics.

The rising prominence of men like Cruz and Rubio is often taken as a sign that the Republican Party is sensitive to the needs and aspiration of the Latino population.  But Cubans, as recipients of special favors rooted in Cold War politics, can’t feel the pain of the larger Latino community.

Consider this.  In the last presidential election, only 44% of Cuban Americans supported Barack Obama, only 44% supported Obama, compared to 76% of Central Americans, 79% of South Americans, 78% of Mexican Americans, 83% of Puerto Ricans, and fully 96% of Dominican Americans.  In other words, the Cuban vote went for Mitt Romney while the rest of the diverse Latino community voted decisively for Barack Obama.

These ugly facts place men like Marco Rubio in a tight place.  The man has presidential aspirations and it is increasingly clear that you can’t ascend to the top job without at least the 44% Latino support George W. Bush worked so hard to get.  Had Bush received 30% Latino support, he would have been beaten by two relatively weak Democratic challengers.

On the other hand, to win the Republican nomination you have to survive the primary season, and that means appealing to the Tea Party base.

Which explains why Marco Rubio, after helping draft a Senate bill that balanced tough border enforcement with a pathway to citizenship, is now endorsing the go-slow, piecemeal approach to reform favored by House Republicans.  Even the deeply flawed Senate bill was too much for Tea Party loyalists because it would eventually mean more Latino voters.

In theory, the Republican Party could take its cue from George W. Bush, winning Latino support by backing sensible immigration reform.  It’s just a matter of signalling to Latinos that they are welcome in the country and in the Republican Party.

But the Tea Party can’t go there.  A movement built on white racial resentment (the cash value of small government conservatism) doesn’t want more non-white people entering the country.

What part of “illegal” do liberals like George W. Bush not understand?

Marco Rubio knows he can’t change this simple fact of American political life, and has adapted his politics accordingly.

Latinos, per se, are not welcome in a Republican Party controlled by the Tea Party.  Rubio had to decide between being Latino and being Cuban, and he made his choice.  The Tea Party loves Cubans, but despises Latinos.

This probably means that comprehensive immigration reform will have to wait until the Republicans suffer another defeat in the presidential election of 2016.  Latino support for the Democratic candidate, no matter who it is, will be even stronger than it was in 2012.  When a political party signals its’ contempt for a large portion of the electorate it must live with the consequences.

If your ambition is to hang on to a Senate seat in the American South, opposing immigration reform makes sense.  If the goal is the win the White House it’s quite another matter.  The Republicans have effectively opted to be a regional party dedicated to the care and feeding of the White electorate.  That’s a winning combination in places like Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, but for the party of Lincoln, it is a long-term disaster in the making.

Congressman rebuked by evangelical attorney for shameful town hall performance

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Kent McKeever

By Alan Bean

I met Kent McKeever several months ago when I spoke at a worship service highlighting the need for immigration reform held at Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas.  Kent had just arrived in Waco to work as an immigration attorney in cooperation with Jimmy Dorrell’s Mission Waco.  I knew immediately that Kent was one of those rare individuals Jesus had in mind when he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8).

A few weeks ago, law professor Mark Osler celebrated McKeever’s selfless odyssey  in a Waco Tribune column:

A Baylor grad, he had gone on to get a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary before entering Vanderbilt’s top-flight law school. His credentials could have opened the door to many high-paying jobs, the kind of work (and pay) that students dream of. But his hope was for something very different. He wanted to return to Waco and provide legal services to the poor.

I saw Kent again last week at the Christian Community Development (CCDA) conference in New Orleans.  He has been cooperating with a variety of evangelical groups working for immigration reform, most recently a diverse group calling itself Bibles, Badges and Business.  The Waco Tribune has published an illuminating conversation between the Tribune editorial staff and this group, and McKeever was part of the discussion.   (more…)

Five ways the Senate’s immigration bill falls short of justice

By Alan Bean

As comprehensive immigration reform wends its tortuous way through the legislative process, we have witnessed a lot of hand-wringing from politicians concerning “border security,” spiking welfare costs, crime, and fairness to those who became citizens the legal way.  Rarely do we hear from the men and women who work with immigrants and advocate on their behalf.  ICA, Immigrant Communities in Action, is a New York-based coalition of immigration reform groups.  Today, they released a response to Senate Bill 744.  They don’t like it.  I am sharing the heart of their statement with you because it captures an emerging consensus within the immigration reform community.  Some organizations worked so hard for so long to get a bill through the Senate that they are willing to hold their noses and live with a deeply flawed piece of legislation.  But most of the reform organizations I monitor are deeply disappointed with the Senate’s immigration bill and this statement explains why.

 

Statement on the Senate Immigration Bill (S.B. 744)                                                    July 10, 2013

Immigrant Communities in Action

New York City

 

“A Call to Immigrant Organizations, Workers Centers, and Allies:

Building for a Just, Humane and Inclusive Immigration Reform, and Beyond

 

On June 27, 2013, the Senate voted to pass its immigration bill with a bipartisan vote of 68 to 32. While the bill includes provisions that seem to benefit some segments of immigrant communities, we are disturbed by the many provisions that undermine the basic premise of a just, humane and inclusive “comprehensive” immigration reform:

1. S.B. 744 creates an onerous labyrinth of a gauntlet instead of a just a path to citizenship.  While the bill seeks to offer a path to citizenship, and allow the millions of immigrants to come out of the shadows and become a recognized part of the social fabric, the specific provisions place many “thorns on the road” by making the process overly complex, financially unaffordable for many, and with an excessively long waiting period of 10-20 years. As these provisions would exclude millions of immigrants, either from the outset or due to the various obstacles, we will continue to have a large population of immigrants who would become even more marginalized and excluded than the current situation. (more…)

Is border security an “ungodly stupid” get-rich scheme?

An By Alan Bean

We face two unsettling truths.  1. The immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate is essentially a make-work project for the military-industrial complex.  2. The Senate bill is unacceptable to the conservatives who control the House of Representatives because it includes a path to citizenship.

Cram both those facts into your head and you will understand why a spit-the-difference moderate like Barack Obama can’t move his legislative agenda.

Immigration reform advocates face an ugly Catch-22.   If we say no to a fruitless militarization of the border, are we ensuring that no immigration legislation will pass?

There are two strategic responses to this dilemma.  Either we shame Congress into passing a reform package free of additional pork for the private prison and military industries; or we make our peace with bizarre new levels of border militarization (with all the misery that entails) as the price for getting some kind of reform bill to the president’s desk.

Conservative senators were willing to sign off on reform because they want to win the next presidential election and their buddies in the defense industry need a new war.  House conservatives, desperate to placate the base, are willing to cede the White House to the Democrats.  How can a reform agenda survive this kind of political opportunism?

If you question the wisdom of pouring billions of dollars into enhanced “border security” please read Joshua Holland’s article in Salon.

An “ungodly stupid” get-rich scheme: The real border security story

With two wars ending, the “defense” industry sets its sights on its next chance to hit pay dirt: The U.S. border

SATURDAY, JUL 6, 2013 02:15 PM CDT

BY 

Last week, John McCain gleefully announced that the Senate immigration bill would result in the “most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” Indeed, an amendment authored by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., authorizes a massive increase in border security dollars — including $30 billion for hiring and training 19,000 new border patrol officers over the next 10 years, and over $13 billion for a “comprehensive Southern border strategy” (including 700 miles of high-tech fencing).

What the senators didn’t tout was that the wall is both functionally useless – and will enrich some of the largest military contractors in the world. (more…)

Coincidence or crafty staging: Senators witness woman climb 18-foot fence

By Alan Bean

The Gang of Eight senators took a photo-op tour of the border fence in Arizona yesterday and, what-d’ya-know, they witnessed a desperate young woman successfully scale an eighteen-foot border fence.  We have just their word for it since no media people were allowed to accompany the tour and hence we have no video or pictures.  I’m not questioning the legitimacy of the report; I’m sure the senators saw what they say they saw.  But how convenient that a young woman made her move at precisely the moment the senators made their appearance?

Coincidence, or crafty staging?   (more…)

At Mexican Border, Four in Five Drug Busts Involve American Citizens

ImagePosted by  Pierre Berastain

“Three out of four people found with drugs by the border agency are U.S. citizens, the data show. Looked at another way, when the immigration status is known, four out of five busts—which may include multiple people—involve a U.S. citizen.”

Amidst the accusations of people like Governor Brewer and Sheriff Apaio that undocumented immigrants are dangerous criminals responsible for smuggling millions of dollars worth of drugs , this article brings a new and fresh perspective.

At Mexican Border, Four in Five Drug Busts Involve American Citizens

by 

The public’s view of a typical Mexican drug smuggler might not include U.S. Naval Academy grad Todd Britton-Harr, who was caught at a Border Patrol checkpoint in south Texas in December 2010 hauling a trailer with 1,100 pounds of marijuana.

Nor would someone like Laura Lynn Farris leap to mind. Border Patrol agents stopped the 52-year-old woman at a border checkpoint 15 miles south of the west Texas town of Alpine in February 2011 with 162 pounds of marijuana hidden under dirty blankets in laundry baskets. (more…)