Moral obligation

View of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty Island

Image via Wikipedia

There is no Statue of Liberty on our southern border, but the words engraved on its base still apply:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

As long as we invite illegal immigration by our employment practices, then we have a moral obligation to the 15 million or so people who came here to work for a better life. Every time and everywhere there are guest workers in a time of rising unemployment, then there is an increasing sentiment by the citizens of the countries affected to send the temporarily unnecessary workers home. It occurs regularly here and abroad in times of economic stress.

If we as a nation decide we no longer want to accept immigration from the South, then we have the right to shut our southern entrance to further immigration. However, we still have a moral obligation to the undocumented aliens already here. We cannot, as a practical matter, deport them all nor can we punish them with imprisonment. Nor should we consider punishing their children for the sins of the fathers or mothers. Arresting the undocumented and attempting to deport them is extremely traumatic to families trying to survive paycheck to paycheck. The expense and loss of income can destroy everything that they have worked years to save and/or accomplish.

There should be a fitting balance between the crime committed and the punishment we as a society impose. For illegal drugs, we punish the buyer and the seller. The sale of sex is punished mostly on the seller and sometimes the buyer. Stolen property is punished on both the buyer and the seller. If we punish the seller of illegal labor, then we should equally punish the buyer. If the human resource departments and managers of businesses knew that they faced arrest and incarceration in tents in the heat of summer, they would refuse to hire anyone who might be here illegally. If we punish only with a small fine paid by the company, then company employees can escape their responsibility to the workers and to society.