Immigration Rhetoric

May 07, 2008

Robert White has a good Ethics Daily column entitled "Pondering Immigration." Here are some highlights:

Immigration: everyone has an opinion. We hear rhetoric used to describe the dilemma of undocumented immigrants in this country from politicians to pulpits.

This is an emotionally charged issue. People feel strongly about their opinions. If you don't believe it, just start a conversation with a small group of people concerning this issue.

... The challenge facing faith communities is to address both this issue and the underlying fear that fuels the rhetoric being used today. The language we choose to describe and talk about people is crucial. When a group of people are referred to as "illegal" aliens, are we dehumanizing people? History has taught that attempts to dehumanize people with language usually lead to mistreatment of those same people?

The faith community can begin to deal with this issue by calling us to pay attention to the use of our language. Regardless of our opinions, let us not mistreat others based on our fear and prejudice. The words we use to define and describe others are important. Let us use language of respect and concern even for the undocumented immigrants already here. As our society struggles to find an answer to this issue, let our faith communities practice wisdom and compassion.
Amen! As he admits, there are no easy answers, but that should not be an excuse for us to act in an unloving and un-Christlike manner with our language. Hopefully, Christians can set an example with our words and thus bring some civility, rationality, and maybe even progress to the immigration debate.