I've really got to wonder about these so-called "Christians" who spend all of their time hating on Mexican immigrants, legal and otherwise. I mean, did they ever go to Sunday school? Hear the parable of the good Samaritan? Read the Sermon on the Mount? Or any of the New Testament, for that matter? You know, all that jazz about, "Love thy neighbor"?
Hey, I'm no Biblical scholar, but I don't recall Jesus preaching anything about deporting people, or why Mexicans are not worthy of compassion. On the contrary, there's this whole passage from Matthew 25, where Jesus informs his disciples that when the Son of man returns,
"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me...Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (From the King James Version.)
Someone should get this passage to Chairman Rob Haney of the Maricopa County GOP, because he apparently doesn't believe Christ's compassion applies to his fellow Christians and Catholics who happen to be Mexicans new to our land.
Below is a letter from Haney to Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, in response to a legislative update sent out by Johnson. At the end of a long list of what he considered good and bad developments in the Legislature for Catholics, Johnson noted that because the state Senate is not considering any bills till the 2010 budget is finalized, this "means that the large number of Senate bills targeted at immigrants have not moved."
That sentence was enough to set Haney off on an e-mail jeremiad about illegal immigration. In it, the "St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner" prays for the demise of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, warns Johnson that Catholic officials are "at risk of becoming accessories to the crimes of murder, corruption, illegal drug use, and human smuggling," and that the employer sanctions law has been "protecting U.S. citizens from crime and disease."
Regarding the "crime and disease" part of Haney's screed, these are two of the many prevarications concocted by the nativist right to demonize Hispanics in general, and recent arrivals from Mexico in particular. As for the "illegal immigration leads to a rise in crime" argument, this has been disproved by numerous studies, such as the Immigration Policy Center's 2007 report, "The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation."
In the executive summary, the IPC study states, "Data from the census and other sources show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans who make up the bulk of the undocumented population. What is more, these patterns have been observed consistently over the last three decennial censuses, a period that spans the current era of mass immigration, and recall similar national-level findings reported by three major government commissions during the first three decades of the 20th century."
Nonetheless, nativists have sought to make the crime-immigrant link through a misreading of a recent Pew Hispanic Center study which says, "In 2007, Latinos accounted for 40% of all sentenced federal offenders-more than triple their share (13%) of the total U.S. adult population." Nativists usually fail to make mention of the study's observation that, "immigration offenses represented nearly one-quarter (24%) of all federal convictions, up from just 7% in 1991. Among those sentenced for immigration offenses in 2007, 80% were Hispanic."
That is, this rise in federal convictions for Hispanics is not because these Latinos are linked to violent crime or any crimes against property, but because they've been busted for immigration offenses. Plus, the study itself also points out, "Only 6% of all offenders sentenced for a felony were sentenced in a federal court."
As for the shibboleth about immigrants bringing disease, this is a classic piece of xenophobic hogwash that's been debunked repeatedly. I called Haney to ask him about this bigoted claptrap -- and to make sure that he had indeed authored the e-mail that had been forwarded to me. (Seems Haney was so proud of this missive, he shot it off to his colleagues in right wing-extremism, and it then made the rounds.) While speaking with me, he pointed to the recent swine flu scare as an example of his less-than-subtle suggestion that Mexican immigrants carry disease.
Problem is, by now, the swine flu outbreak has been shown to be yet another spread of the flu, one no more dangerous than the usual, yearly outbreaks. (Nor have the cases in the U.S. been linked to illegal immigration.) Haney asserted to me that it "originated in Mexico." I pointed out that the avian flu strain a few years back had been traced to Asia. The origin of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which felled more than WWI itself, is still debated, though most sources agree it did not originate in Spain.
Indeed, to assign an ethnic or racial source for a flu strain is an exceptional example of ignorance and prejudice, knowing what we know about how flu strains mutate and are transmitted. Even if the United States sealed off its border with Mexico tomorrow, there are these newfangled inventions called airplanes, in which people fly from continent to continent. But maybe Haney would like to end transnational air traffic as well. Thing is, air commutes were fairly rare back in 1918 (as Haney is likely aware from experience), and still scores of millions expired because of the Spanish flu.
Haney's antagonism towards Mexican immigrants is irrational, and, ultimately contrary to the tenets of his own religion. When I suggested as much to him, he hung up on me, like the angry old man that he is.
Too bad. I wanted to point Haney to Matthew 25, verses 40-46:
"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, `Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.' Then shall they also answer him, saying, `Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?' Then shall he answer them, saying, `Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.'"
Yeah, I'm an atheist. But if the Bible happens to be right and "straight is the gate, and narrow the way," then after we both meet our natural ends following (hopefully) long lives, I'll remind Haney of our conversation. You know, while we're stewing in the hot place.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Sent: Saturday, May 02, 2009 11:47 PM To: ROB HANEY Subject: Letter of concern sent to Exec Director of AZ Cath Conference & Bishop Olmsted
Ron, Just when I think I can't be more disappointed in the voice of our AZ Catholic Conference, I receive two biased and misleading legislative updates from you dated 4/17 and 4/20. For example, to quote from your last sentence of update 4/17 "....the large number of Senate bills targeted at immigrants have not moved." You continue to use talking points that deceive, Ron. You and the Bishops know perfectly well that the Senate bills targeted ILLEGAL activities by ILLEGAL aliens. Please Ron, no more obfuscation. Your choice of words in this ILLEGAL immigration debate is equivalent to Senator McCain and President Obama saying they support "stem cell" research without defining the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells, while they advocate only for embryonic stem cell research. You, the Bishops, and many of our elected Catholic officials, through your misleading advocacy, are at risk of becoming accessories to the crimes of murder, corruption, illegal drug use, and human smuggling. These crimes are a result of a lackadaisical approach to enforcement of our immigration laws and border security. You oppose these Catholic officials when they advocate for abortion and homosexual marriage, but you support these officials when they encourage us to disregard our immigration laws. These pro-abortion officials deceive through their rhetoric. You use their same rhetoric to deceive when it comes to ILLEGAL immigration. Surely you realize this, but the deception does not appear to make you the least bit uncomfortable. If these officials can be so wrong on the life issue, why are you so quick to go lock-step with them on the societal corruption issue of ILLEGAL immigration? The Catholic publication, Living the Gospel of Life, states "......the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the rightness of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community." Do you see any relevance there, Ron? The Employer Sanctions law is working well in accomplishing self-deportation, enforcing our laws, preventing a permanent underclass of illegal cheap labor, and protecting U.S. citizens from crime and disease. Yet you have lobbied against this law and against the Sheriff's and County Attorney's efforts to protect U.S. citizens. As the Church, we should be privately supporting our poor neighbors in their country of origin. I don't want my charity dollars sent to Washington for the government to decide where my dollars will go. I want to decide that myself. American Catholics have voluntarily done this for decades. Ignoring our laws or encouraging illegal actions is hardly Catholic teaching. Please just give us a clear explanation of both the issue and the most compassionate Catholic response, for all of us, not just for those who took cuts in the immigration line. Since you have shown great clarity in the areas of pro-life legislation and traditional marriage, I look forward to the same clarity in the areas of securing our borders and discouraging ILLEGAL immigration. I was not surprised by your 4/20 State Budget legislative update. Nationally, the Bishops have gotten the socialist government for which they lobbied. What a shame that our Catholic charities have become so dependent on government programs. The church has become one more "junkie" at the government trough. I can only pray for the eventual demise of that dangerous and harmful, liberal political organization, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. I suspect the faithful Bishops do not have the votes to stop the USCCB from their socialist agenda. As much as we appear by our actions in this country and through the USCCB to not deserve God's blessing, I will continue to beg for it. His mercy seems to be our only hope.
St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner and
Chairman, Maricopa County Republican Committee
From: Ron Johnson
Subject: Legislative Update
To: "Robert Haney"
Date: Friday, April 17, 2009, 2:22 PM
ARIZONA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE (04/17/09)
Governor Brewer Restores Funding for Abstinence and Homeless Programs!
Popular programs aimed at promoting abstinence until marriage received great news today when Governor Jan Brewer announced that she was going to restore the federal dollars previously received but turned down by Governor Napolitano for these purposes!
While the future of federal abstinence until marriage funding remains very uncertain in the current Congress, Governor Brewer's action should ensure that these cost effective programs will continue to operate in Arizona for at least another year.
As if this was not good enough news, Governor Brewer announced yesterday that she was also ordering $771,000 in emergency funding to homeless shelters around the state, including assistance to Catholic Charities in Prescott. There are still significant concerns regarding the fate of social services in the FY 2010 budget, but the ACC welcomes this good news.
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While most of the work at the Capitol continues to focus on the tremendous budget crisis facing our State, last week the House of Representatives tentatively approved a bill (HB 2287) that would allow payroll deductions for those making charitable donations through either the tuition tax credit or charitable organization tax credit programs. HB 2287 still awaits a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
Meanwhile, it should be noted that an effort was briefly under way recently to eliminate the charitable organization tax credit benefiting the working poor. After discussions with key legislators, however, this effort was quickly abandoned.
At this point in the session, the House is now finished hearing its own bills in committee and has passed a select few all the way through its chamber and onto the Senate. The Senate, meanwhile, continues to refuse to hear any bills unrelated to the budget in committee until the FY 2010 budget is passed.
The delay in the Senate means that the Abortion Consent Act (HB 2564) along with the state ban on partial birth abortions (HB 2400), the streamlining of the charitable organization tax credit (HB 2286), and the removal of the sunset provision on the scholarship (corporate) tuition tax credit (HB 2288) are all the way through the House and waiting for the Senate to take action. It also means that the large number of Senate bills targeted at immigrants have not moved.