What’s behind hostility toward immigrants?

What’s behind hostility toward immigrants?

By Father Robert J. Gregorio

I’d like to speculate on why we hear so much hostility these days toward illegal immigrants. The same reason might explain why we find so much opposition to universal medical insurance. The two may not seem to have much to do with each other, but they share a common origin. The tens of thousands of immigrants streaming over our 2,400-mile southern border without authorization are filling up temporary camps, pushing our Immigration and Customs Enforcement and our Homeland Security personnel to repatriate “illegals” as soon as possible. Likewise the many politicized objections to medical coverage for all is mystifying. So I propose that the common reason is good old home-grown greed.

Despite Gordon Gecko’s unctuous counsel, in the 1987 film “Wall Street,” greed is a capital sin, and for good reason. It is the mania to acquire money and goods without regard for how we get them. Means may be moral or otherwise, but inconsequential in the end, for the end justifies unpleasant means. Cinematic Gordon was not the first to make a virtue out of the sow’s ear that hurts so many. But it’s dismaying how the mass culture has so beatified ruthless materialism, making a god out of material things for the good of the greedy individual. And individualism trumps concern for the community every time in these allegedly united States.

About those immigrants: they should be called refugees, which is what they are, fleeing violence and poverty some of which we occasion by our greedy misuse of Latin American illegal drugs. This is what is illegal, not the refugees. We generate the market for northbound cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs out of a concern for temporary, selfish comfort. Abusers have no concern for the havoc their pleasure-seeking causes. A greedy enjoyment of the chemical high gotten from the blood of Latinos terrorized by drug gangs and corrupt governments explains why so many want to leave home and head north. When someone is in danger of death and we have the chance to help, we have a moral obligation to help. Yet when children of parents desperate to save their own, if not themselves, send them unaccompanied to our borders, gambling thousands of dollars to pay coyotes, we object. Yet we never inquire why parents would do such a desperate thing.

We are signatories to the United Nations’ pledge to aid such victims outside our borders. R2P is the global shorthand for a shared responsibility to protect. Yet we show more concern for the money that refugees will take from us when they apply for jobs. That’s a major greed symptom right there. To those who object that illegals will gladly work for half of what a legal worker gets, I say prosecute the greedy boss who hires slave labor and becomes rich from the sweat of people in his control. Why do we think that the solution is to bar people from entering the U.S. and taking jobs already rejected by native-born job seekers? Most of us Christians in this Christian nation seem to see no connection between helping victims of economic oppression and going to church each week, ignoring our complicity in the pain of others. Is the God to whom we pray in church likely to listen to our prayers?

Can we descendants of immigrants, whose ancestors had to suffer much the same contempt, keep a straight face when piously invoking our immigration laws? God’s law calls human life more valuable than material money and things. Don’t we use that argument to condemn abortion for the planning of parenthood?

Then there’s the foot-dragging for universal medical coverage, the kind provided by every other industrialized nation now for decades. It’s an attitude of stiff-the-poor and middle class, the latter who have no access through their jobs. Greed is at work since the fear is that if they get access, I will lose mine. Yet affordable care is catching on. A few months ago the New England Journal of Medicine reported that more than 10 million adults gained health insurance by July. The number of uninsured Americans between 18 and 65 dropped by 5 percentage points. What sort of greed objects to children being covered till 26, or coverage without concern for prior medical conditions, or defraying the cost of insured patients who are charged on average $1,000 for every ER visit to help the hospital defray charity costs?

Since these things are so, the Second Amendment must be repealed.


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