The following was submitted to the In Theory section of the local press in response to the following questions regarding the recent Arizona law on immigration: Is the new law a step forward in combatting illegal immigration to the U.S., or does it go too far? What are the moral and/or ethical dilemas that you see here that may arise or have already arisen from this new law?
Moral concerns about “state sanctioned racial profiling” are, as of last Friday’s revised wording, now apparently no longer in the forefront.
But there are still ample related issues that should be of concern to people of conscience. Such as those pertaining to the growing number of people who feel personally affronted by the existence on our soil of non-citizens (regardless of their contributions to the functioning of our economy and culture).
Many are making it their mission to spread hate-filled mythology about “them”, and to advocate for inhuman extremes of segregation and punishment through various means – including border barriers (like those once dividing East and West Germany and those currently dividing Israeli and Palestinian settlements), and violent, fear-driven vigilante actions.
But there is another moral concern as well. It has to do with this country’s history of ignoring/manipulating its laws. Particularly when doing so creates benefit.
An example of this is the federal immigration laws which, when inconsistently enforced, assure the continued flow of cheap labor without which the current American standard of living would be greatly diminished. This relates directly to the willingness of employers and consumers to place blame on undocumented workers, without taking responsibility for enabling this unofficial, much-maligned and yet highly profitable labor system.
A moral nation would encourage honest dialogue about its motives and commitments. More-so (and I realize this is a stretch), a moral nation would create and consistently enforce fair laws designed to protect the freedom, dignity and worth of human beings. Not just those with a US passport.