In his column explaining why the DREAM Act transcends politics (Aug. 26), Bishop Galante was so correct to point out that political issues do not exist in a vacuum; they do not exist detached from the lives of human beings. For these very reasons it is important to remember that any legislation passed by Congress must not adversely affect the very population it is meant to serve. While we must as church be considerate and compassionate toward those innocent victims of illegal immigration, we also have an obligation to create reform measures that solve problems without creating new ones.
Bishop Galante praises the immigration policies that have allowed our nation to welcome millions of people from around the world through the portals of New York Harbor. Those who entered and were greeted by the Statue of Liberty did so legally, and, as a result, became contributing members of society. By passing legislation that rewards illegal activity — which is how this DREAM ACT will be viewed by many being smuggled through our southern borders — without first addressing the enforcement of lawful entry through these borders is to encourage more of the same.
Where is the compassion for the citizens of the southwestern border states who experience on a daily basis violence, vandalism and abuse of property? Bishop Galante implies that the only victims in the wake of illegal immigration from our neighboring Latin American countries are the illegal immigrants themselves, and particularly their children. As church do we not have the responsibility to show compassion toward the American people whose communities are being drained financially in order to educate, provide health care and other social services to illegal immigrants?
The reason America has been a safe haven and the land of opportunity for countless millions is that those millions came to stay, to assimilate and to be contributing members of society. They came legally. How are we preaching morality when we expend our energies in “feel good” politics? Instead, perhaps we should be expending our energies to study the complexity of the problem. By so doing, it becomes clear that their is a real need to preach against the smuggling and exploitation of so many desperate people. These men, women and children pay thousands of dollars to smugglers and drug dealers, only to be abandoned in the desert, raped and worse. Walls, virtual or otherwise along our southern border, do not wall people out; walls and laws protect people from smugglers and drug dealers who are free to exploit the vulnerability of our borders.
Please consider addressing these issues along with the issue of helping those children of illegal immigrants who are already here. Encouraging more people to enter illegally is not the answer.