Saturday, 22 June 2013

Who do we want immigrating to America?




Two immigration stories this week.

A 65-year-old woman in Texas, who has lived here 30 years, recently applied for naturalization. She is a little old English lady who has been recognized by the Queen of England for her work fighting illiteracy. She claimed the right to be a conscientious objector, but the immigration people rejected her claim, because she doesn’t belong to a church. Essentially they said – “come back and show us that you are part of a church that believes that, and you can be naturalized. And we want a letter on official church stationery.”

I have a few problems with this.

First, this action by the immigration people is illegal. The Supreme Court already said the immigration guys can’t do that. In 1971 they said you can base your conscientious objector status on something other than religious belief – the only thing they require is that you object to fighting wars in principle, rather than objecting to a particular war. You must be opposed to war in any form, not just the war we’re fighting now, or could be fighting in the near future – and the woman in this case said that explicitly. Check the Gillette, Witmer, Seeger and Welsh cases. And the military already has the same rules: you can object to fighting wars for religious or non-religious reasons, as long as it’s not based on your political view regarding the war, or sheer self-interest.

Second, she’s a 65-year-old woman, and nobody has been drafted in 40 years – it will probably never happen again. So even if the immigration people were right on the law – which they weren’t – they should have let this pitch go by anyway.

Third, we already live in a world in which religious extremists are trying to breach the wall between church and state, to put their religious priorities at the top of our national agenda, and ram their views down our throats on abortion, school vouchers, school prayer, intelligent design, putting the Commandments in courtrooms, stem cell research, euthanasia, cloning, civil unions, HPV shots, contraception, sex education, faith-based initiatives, banning books, assisted suicide. Now officials of the government are taking us down a path wherein an English grandmother who wants to teach kids that reading is better than fighting can be thrown out of the country for being an atheist, but if she came back the next day and said “okay, I’m a Baptist, I hate fags, I want to ignore Roe v Wade, my schoolkids shouldn’t be taught evolution or sex ed or get anti-cancer shots, and let’s start burning books too!”….they would welcome her with open arms. If she was teaching her kids hate and ignorance rather than grammar and spelling, they would roll out the red carpet for her.

And fourth, it opens the door to restricting atheists from entering the country – what other restrictions could government put on atheists? As it is, already it is almost impossible for an atheist to have a political career in America. The government, with this action, is taking the stance that morality doesn’t mean anything unless there’s a church standing behind you.

Update – the immigration people backed down.

…Second story, Ted Cruz, arguably the leader of the crazy tea-party caucus in the U.S. Senate. He is a hardcore opponent of immigration reform – he has been screeching that we must oppose immigration reform in order to save “our humanity”.

Brace yourself for some irony here.

Cruz’s father came from Cuba, and did so illegally. He had to bribe officials to get into the United States. And Cruz himself believes he is eligible to run for President, even though he himself was born in Canada. So those Republicans who argue that illegal immigrants can turn into criminal scumbags once they arrive safely in America – they were right!

So by Republican logic, the little old lady is the person we need to fear, and keep out -- Cruz is the guy we want not only as a citizen, but as Commander in Chief. 

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