Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Governor Jan Brewer, invokes God for discrimination.

Arizona has a new immigration law to stop illegal immigration. If you seriously want to stop all illegal immigration immediately, simply have the IRS seize the financial assets of any employer/business that hires undocumented workers. Now stop and consider the other effects/consequences of doing that. The reality is that business and consumers profit from undocumented workers and they do not want their profits touched by a too tight boarder.

I lived and worked in the Central Valley of California for 23 years. In the summer months, the temperature soars into triple digits. You will find workers from Mexico and Central America hunched over in fields picking crops under a scorching sun. They work for a fraction of what American workers would be paid. Think about that the next time you go to the produce section of your supermarket. What do you think that head of lettuce, or a bunch of grapes would cost you if it were picked by people earning just wages? Is this work that you would be willing to do? Is it work that you would want your high school/college age children & grandchildren doing?

Until the United Farm Workers unionized the workers and fought for decent working conditions, there were no toilet facilities made available to field workers. Drinking water was also not provided. Do you think that such working conditions are fair and just? Would you be willing to work under such conditions? Would you be willing to work under those conditions and be paid what these “illegal” workers are paid?

I have served many of these workers for years. They work extremely hard, they love their families and many of them send funds back home to help support parents and children. They suffer discrimination, bigotry and are often deceived and taken advantage of by employers and “upright citizens.” To demonize human beings who are simply trying to provide for themselves and their family through honest work is morally wrong.

I worked on Skid Row in Los Angeles for a year. I still recall vividly the anguish of a family whose mother was arrested in a garment sweatshop. The woman was a seamstress, the shop that employed her was raided by the INS. The workers were arrested and deported that day. Her children came home that afternoon to an empty house. It took the woman 24 hours before she was able to contact her kids from Mexico. Pause for one moment and ask yourself how you would feel if that happened to your mom. How would you perceive America? Thousands of women like her work in LA’s garment district. They work for a fraction of what union workers would be paid and that is why you get such “bargains” at discount shops.

These “illegal” workers contribute directly to the quality of your life. They put the food on your table and the clothes on your back at a fraction of what you would have to pay if they were not here. They clean your hotel room, cook your meals at restaurants, cut your lawns, clean your homes and provide care for your children. They do all of this work for pennies on the dollar. Then, they are insulted, harassed and made to feel like they are parasites by racists in the name of “God and Country.”

Yes, if you want to end “illegal” immigration you can, just have the IRS seize the assets of the business that profit from these people’s “illegal” work. That will not happen, because business love profits and consumers love bargains. Yes, even more than “Country” and as for “God,” well our nation’s God has long been Mammon. Jesus is just one of the minor “household deities” who is invoked for victories at the Super bowl. The Bible is read literally by Evangelicals who wish to condemn homosexuals and then simply glossed over when it commands justice and mercy for the stranger in the land.

A law professor once told our class that if you wanted to know the values of a people, read their law codes. The new laws (Domestic Partnerships benefits were also repealed by the Gov.) in Arizona speaks volumes about the Governor and legislature of that state. How the rest of the nation reacts, will speak volumes about us.

The God who the Governor of Arizona so easily invokes says the following in the Book of Malachi, chapter 3, verse 5

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment…against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the stranger, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.”


Anonymous said...

totally off topic padre, I miss your friendly face in your old picture, the new one looks like a mug shot.

Father Geoff said...

I know, sadly I am "computer challenged" and have had a devil of a time with uploading a better photo.

OreamnosAmericanus said...

Dude, you keep putting quotation marks around "illegal". It's not complicated. People come here without legal permission. That makes their status "illegal". When I enter another country of which I am not a citizen and therefore have no right to enter, I have to ask proper permission and be authorized. Otherwise my being there is illegal.

They might be nice or smart or whatever, these folks. But they're here illegally.

BTW Check out the rules and laws about immigration and immigrants in Mexico itself. They're real clear. Makes Arizona look like amnesty central.

Joe said...

Thank you for making this post, Fr. Geoff. Our country is messed up - we oppress the little people & worship the elite, even if the latter steer our nation into ruin (e.g., the current financial crisis). I saw a segment on The Daily Show where Fox News was singing the praises of the CEO of Goldman Sachs (!). If only the Church hierarchy worked as hard for social justice as they do in opposing civil rights for gay people! But since the Church hierarchy has denounced Liberation Theology, we know where the Church hierarchy truly stands when it comes to social justice.

Father Geoff said...

Dear USMaleSF,

So, are you opposed to the IRS seizing the assets of employers/businesses that employ "illegal" workers? Is it not equally “illegal” to hire such workers?

You seem to overlook the fact that American business, owned and run by American citizens, profit from and encourage the practices that you so passionately condemn. Not to mention American consumers who demand the lowest price possible for products and services.

Would you only want the police to arrest people who buy illegal drugs and let the drug pushers go free? If you (and Arizona, et al) are serious about stopping illegal immigration, where are the teeth in these new laws that bite employers/companies that blatantly hire these workers?

Frank said...

The illegal immigrant issue is a complex mix of laws, economics and emotions. Not an easy mix to sort out. On the one hand we "need" the labor of illegal workers but only because we can pay them unjust wages. Otherwise it doesn't work. Yet from their point of view, our unjust wages are more than they can make in their country of origin. So they see "the American Dream".

See Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days" series ( for an emotional take.

So why not just open the boarders? Sometimes I think the "elephant in the room" is Over Population and our inability to get real about birth control. The planet can just not support an exponentially growing population. And the Catholic Church should recognize the responsible course by not only allowing birth control, but making it a morally responsible choice.

Father Geoff said...

Dear FDeF,

A friend of mine told me that once the sun sets in Paris, the language on the streets is Arabic. A similar situation exists in Germany.

In those nations foreign workers are imported to do the work that the locals are unwilling or unable to do.

The economy requires workers and so economic realities ultimately dictate political realities. I believe that is as much true in Europe as it is in the USA.

I don't think that this Arizona law stands a chance. It will most probably be stopped by the judiciary. Beyond that, a tremendous amount of economic pressure will be placed on Arizona to "rethink" its ill-advised "law."

Philip Carrizosa said...

I was amused to read Gov. Brewer claim that God has placed her in the governor's seat. The last I heard, God doesn't care about such trival, political affairs.
But the thought behind her comment scares me. Perhaps the good governor should read her Bible again.

Dan said...

I am for a complete overhaul of the immigration system. The immigrants working without papers/legal status are exploited!

Legal immigration should be made easier and less expensive and just wages should be given.