Why The Religious Right Is Soft On Immigration: Plus, I Propose To Revive A New Deal-Era Institution

I read a recent New York Times article on the Mormon editor who is being lambasted by the conservatives for his views on immigration points up a little known fact – the strictly religious right is fairly soft on immigration.  First, they see a mission field, a chance to recruit new people to Red America rather than Blue America, and strengthen the numbers of social conservatives.  It should be noted that both African Americans and Latinos, though they vote Democrat, tend to act more like Red America culturally.  And second, it is hard for the strictly Religious Right to forget that Proposition 8 lost the Anglo and Asian vote and won because of African-Americans and Latinos.  So on the list of the Religious Right’s favorite issues, immigration does not necessarily pose much of a threat!  Maybe if all the Swedes and the French were flooding into our country . . .

Also, in the same issue of the paper, an editorial supported the so called Dream Act, which would offer citizenship to undocumented people who show “good moral character” (however that is defined nowadays; that would be interesting to see what they include and exclude from “good moral character”!) and either finish college or finish high school and serve in the military.  I favor this, for if they do so, they have shown that they are willing to, as Jeremiah 29 says, “seek the welfare of the city to whom the Lord has called them in exile.”  And, while I favor revising “birthright citizenship,” I would apply this Act to those who are born on U S soil but not “under the jurisdiction thereof” as well, so that they could qualify for citizenship.

I have to say that every time I see the word “dream” used in this way I can’t help thinking of Bob Dylan (1979):  “You can dream big dreams, but to dream, you’ve gotta be asleep!” I don’t know how relevant that is to this, but never mind.

And I’ve got another even more scandalous suggestion, while we’re at it.  Revive the Roosevelt-era Civilian Conservation Corps.  And then I’d make participation in the CCC also a qualification, like the military, for participating in the Dream Act.  We have a lot of young people nowadays who are very difficult to employ on real jobs, and a CCC might help to change that and give them skills.  Also, it is a fact that people of color – and even many younger Anglos nowadays – are much less oriented to nature than Anglos traditionally have been.  If you stand on the John Muir Trail of a summer’s day and watch the people go by, would you get the impression that California is the “majority-minority” state that it is?  Similarly when you check out the surfing beaches and other outdoor sports.  A Civilian Conservation Corps would help build in an understanding for and an appreciation of nature to people who have not been exposed much to the natural world.  And in an era that is very concerned with ecology and climate change, a CCC experience would help to educate people in an understanding of these subjects that is based on reality and experience, and not, as is so much of the discussion, on rumor and sentimentality.

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