September 2019 Inter-Belief Conversation Café
How Do We Handle Immigration?
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (View Map)
Should we welcome the stranger at our door, given almost all our ancestors were once strangers in a strange land? Do we face an invasion from the wretched refuse of the world (or at least parts of Central America)? Shall we rewrite the inscription on the Statue of Liberty to clarify which of the huddled masses get valet service at the Golden Door, and which must shuffle on home? Is border control racism or just the security any country must maintain? Has our past or present treatment of illegal, legal, and refugee immigrants been the solution, or caused the problem? Should children ever be jailed in cages?
There are 350 million crossings of the US-Mexican border every year. People commute from Mexico to jobs in the Estados Unidos and vice versa daily. Students living in one country cross the border to go to school. These are on roads, some of them superhighways. Trump says he wants The Wall to be “black.” What will a black wall, or any walls, do when so many cross each day? Most illegal drugs are shipped in not on boys’ backs, but at seaports. Would even a wall as high as the Tower of Babel keep them out? Should Department of Defense and FEMA money be used to fund a wall now 13% complete?
The number of illegal immigrants has fallen by two million since 2007. Net migration from Mexico peaked then reversed in 2010. A major reason was improvement in the Mexican economy. Should we not then be helping Central America create jobs locally? Why cut off aid programs as the Secretary of Homeland Security was negotiating them? Are we the keepers of our brothers and sisters in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador? If we fear drug gangs like MS-13, why do we provide so many drug buyers for their goods? Why did we deport members of a gang “back” to El Salvador, when the gang was founded in Los Angeles? Is there a path to a rational immigration policy, one not dominated by sound bites and internet pundits?
What does national sovereignty mean? Are we a nation of immigrants or a place founded by Anglo-Saxons whose Western culture must be preserved? Who’s a good American? What’s the good language? The good religion? May a good American ever wear a hijab? What fundamentals of the US Constitution must an individual know and accept to be allowed in the US, or to stay? Should birthright citizens — whether babies, infants, or teens — be made homeless as their parents and older siblings are deported? Why not take away these kids’ “fake” citizenship, too? When we shout to people, “Go back where you came from,” are we being racist? But what if they are non-white people born in Brooklyn or Michigan? Maybe all Mayflower and later white immigrants’ descendants could all be sent back to England and Ireland to “dig potatoes?” Shouldn’t we define American as only the descendant of the Indigenous First People?
Are illegal immigrants taking our jobs? But aren’t we at full employment? Don’t they do jobs, even for low wages, that legal residents won’t do? America faces a “population bust”, so who’ll do the work if not immigrants? Don’t they pay millions into Social Security and Medicare but get no benefits? Didn’t we drain the best and brightest from the around the world to start up Silicon Valley?
On Monday, September 16, from 7-9 PM at Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul, 1671 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, Inter-belief Conversation Café will try to solve immigration — or at least not make it worse. Agreements of open-mindedness (not open borders), acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality will try to keep us secure but welcoming. But for all participants, no matter where you come from, there are treats!