Sunday, December 23, 2007

Latinos Say US Has Hostile Climate for Immigrants

A letter from Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans—MARCHA—calls upon United Methodists to be sensitive to the plight of immigrants this Christmas seasons. The letter is signed by retired Bishop Elias Galvan, interim CEO, and the organization's president, Rev. David Maldonado Jr., who list problems that they say Latinos are plagued with.

"During this Christmas season, when we remember [that Jesus was] born to parents journeying in a foreign land for the sake of their survival," the letter states, "we invite The United Methodist Church to join MARCHA in standing against the negative and anti-Latino forces and voices around us. Let us be truly The United Methodist Church."

How's that again? "Journeying in a foreign land for the sake of their survival?" What Bible do the good people at MARCHA read? The Bible I am familiar with tells us that Mary and Joseph, the future parents of Jesus, were in Bethlehem where Joseph was born to register for the census or to pay taxes, depending upon which version you like, at the demand of emperor Caesar Augustus. That's just a little different than being in a foreign land for the sake of survival.

This twisting of the Christmas story to draw a fallacious, self-serving parallel is vaguely reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's efforts a few years ago when she made a similarly erroneous charge, claiming that Mary and Joseph were homeless people. We might expect such cheap tricks from a politician, but most of us expect a Methodist bishop and minister to be more forthright or at least to know their scripture.

The letter goes on to say that "Latinos face daily suspicion of their citizenship and rights as residents of our communities," and that "they are subjected to racial profiling and suspicion as they seek employment, housing, or simply driving down the street." Asking Latino families "to prove their citizenship in order to rent a house, to be employed or enroll their children in school" is "legalized racism," the letter says.

Methinks that MARCHA protests too much. There are, after all, some 20 million Latinos in the US illegally, and it is against the law to hire illegals and to assist them in remaining in the US illegally. And with the increased focus on stopping illegals from entering the country, smart employers will be careful whom they hire, and landlords and school officials will be wise to do likewise.

This defensive, victim attitude is similar to the attitude of some Muslims, who can't understand why Americans are suspicious of young Muslim men on airplanes.

MARCHA wants the Methodists to stand against the treatment they call racism, to oppose what they view as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino laws enacted by cities and states, and also to support Latinos subjected to bad treatment.

What the Methodists decide to do on this issue is their business, but one would hope that they base their decision on the fundamental tenets of their religion, and not succumb to the dishonestly twisted facts about Jesus' birth that MARCHA employed in its letter. And we would hope that the governing body of the Methodist Church would not encourage its adherents to break their country's laws to satisfy MARCHA's narrow aims.

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