Hypocrisy is an ugly trait. It is one thing to fall short of one’s ideals and humbly aim to do better; it is quite another to profess virtue while willfully doing the opposite. It is not hypocritical to fail at times, if there is repentance and resolve to improve. It is hypocritical to present oneself as a paragon of compassion and then recoil when called upon to act in accordance with one’s ideals.
Political hypocrisy is on full display as hundreds of migrants are bussed or flown to sanctuary locations. None of the leaders of sanctuary cities complained when these folks were transported under cover of night to conservative suburbs or rural locales. But the moment a few dozen folks arrive in Martha’s Vineyard, suddenly such actions are now “inhuman” “Illegal” and even “akin to the Holocaust.”
Open borders serve no nation well. Neither does xenophobia. America has a wildly contradictory history of immigration law and practice and current systems are in need of reform. Before offering a way forward, balance is needed as we critique the current crises. Some Democratic leaders want a flood of people dependent on state help and they offer rapid citizenship so migrants will vote for their benefactors. Republicans have been unfairly portrayed as White Nationalists for simply wanting order and security at the border. But many Republicans are secretly happy with an endless supply of cheap labor.
How do we make progress? We must start with ending the “either/or” thinking that poisons reasonable policymaking. We can be hospitable and secure, creating pathways for citizenship and residency that welcome hard-working people from all nations. A secure border matters. The wall must be finished and many hospitality centers constructed on both sides of the border with Mexico. Criminals must be screened out and current undocumented felons must be deported. DREAMers deserve a pathway to citizenship while we eliminate incentives for anchor babies and the tragic separation of families.
Legal immigration is a mess. It is cumbersome and expensive and we can do better. Instead of reactive, symbolic actions (open borders, shipping migrants, etc.), Let’s gather people from all sides of the issue, keep the cameras outside (I know, that is impossible!), and forge real policy. For those in the USA illegally, offer a streamlined pathway to normalization with real accountability. ONLY citizens can vote. Apart from basic food, clothing, and temporary shelter, government benefits require registration and screening. Reform the whole system and while this is taking place, take the monies designated to the IRS increases and apply them to border security and compassionate care.
There is no place for racism and xenophobia in our policies. And there is a need for secure borders and screening for criminality and diseases (which can then be treated). Once our agitation propaganda is replaced by compassion and courage, there is hope for our nation and for millions we should welcome to our land.
In a genuine spirit of potential bipartisan consensus, I offer the following insights leading to progress on some of the most challenging issues of our day. I have no illusions that ideological captives of Left or Right will applaud; indeed, so many have invested heart and soul in their narratives that it will take a spiritual awakening for openness to triumph over subjectivity and creativity to win over anger. For the thoughtful, here are some ways to reimagine an inclusive common good.
Energy policy: The aspirations of a fossil fuel-free world must be tempered with economic and social realities for the most vulnerable and the real timeline of transition. Canceling the Keystone Pipeline was a shortsighted political move, angering our Canadian friends, and destroying thousands of jobs with no pathways for replacing the energy and employment at a reasonable cost. We can remain independent and create private/public partnerships that explore efficient alternatives and make sure that the working class is not the primary victim of changes. Elites love electric cars, even though their end-to-end cost to the environment is equal or worse that an efficient gas engine compact car.
Health Care: Simply promising the world to voters fails to consider the negative and positive lessons learned in the last decade. Instead of hype and huge premiums for middle-class folks, call a new bipartisan health care summit and create working teams from public and private sectors and imagine a grassroots management system informed by federal ethics instead of a bloated, inefficient D.C. Leviathan. Some have benefitted from the reforms of a dozen years ago. Others have suffered. We can do better.
Immigration: We need comprehensive reform that honors DACA promises, prepares pathways for citizenship, and improves security. No more demonizing ICE, Homeland Security, local law enforcement, or the migrants looking for a better future. There is a bill about to come to Congress…I am hoping it is well-crafted. It is vital that criminal elements be contained while millions of hardworking folks are given opportunities.
Racial Justice: Listen to the locals who live in the neighborhoods most in need of improvement! One day I was in a conversation with community leaders and a veteran of many programs said to the folks at the table: “What some call gentrification we call exile. No one considers the people who actually live here.” Let’s create pathways of access and opportunity. Look for indigenous leaders and groups with successful track records. Enforce current laws. Bring people of all cultures and classes together and honestly assess the failures and successes of the last 50+ years and the nearly $20T of public funds that have been poorly managed. True reparation creates just systems without stifling agency and creativity.
Recommended reading: Robert L. Woodson, Sr., Lessons from the Least of These
For churchleaders and members: Rev. Dr. Irwin Ince, The Beautiful Community
As we consider the turmoil in our streets and online, there are two guiding questions that may help us with a civil and insightful conversation. First, what does “there” look like as we aspire for a more humane, just, and loving world? Second, what are some practical steps toward this vision?
It is much easier to agitate and destroy than it is to build just and sustainable structures that help offer a flourishing future for all. Tearing down monuments to an unjust past is emotionally understandable. Yet, thinking deeply how to teach and understand the many narrative of American history will require more thoughtfulness that current reactions.
Conservatives tend to ignore the historical and systemic shortcomings and focus on personal opportunity and responsibility in achieving the ideals of the Founders and Framers. Some (not all) progressives find it hard to affirm anything positive about the past but offer few practical and economically feasible solutions for all the crises we face.
What does “there” look like? I long for a day when every (of every color or culture, class and gender) person – from conception to coronation – lives in a world with access, equity, and opportunity and can, with the help of others, flourish personally and add to the goodness of our world. “There” includes immigration reform, so America is hospitable and welcoming immigrants ready to contribute. Neither open borders nor separating families are good solutions.
Practically, serious reforms are needed in all sectors (business, criminal justice, education, political accountability, mental health, strengthening families, and more) so that these pathways are created and sustained. We can forge and better future without extreme deficit spending and defunding law enforcement.
Will we find the courage and wisdom to get past anarchy and ignorance, nostalgic and utopian dispositions and work toward justice? The road ahead is perilous but full of promise.
immigration history of the USA includes much prejudice and xenophobia,
punctuated by moments of hope and inclusion. During the height of Ellis
Island’s embrace of millions (1880s-1910s), Chinese immigrants in
California were imprisoned, oppressed, and subject to severe
restrictions if they did manage legal status. Heartening narratives of
religious and social freedom are unfortunately concomitant with nativism
and racism. Maryland was founded in the mid-17th century as a
Roman Catholic refuge. By the 1840s, there were anti-Catholic riots in
response to the influx of Irish survivors of the potato famine in their
homeland. The open doors of the late 19th and early 20th
century became the sealed gates of the 1920s to 1940s, with Jewish
emigres severely restricted at the height of the Nazi genocide.
in the 1960s opened the floodgates, with a confusing array of
regulations that allowed an influx of students, workers (temporary and
permanent), and refugees. At present, some have to wait years for a
pathway to citizenship while “undocumented” residents, DACA recipients
and others are the recipients of much favor and financial support. The
US-Mexico border and adjacent facilities are overwhelmed with people. On
the political front, both parties want a steady stream of new arrivals
for their economic and political purposes. A large majority of American
citizens want reasonable regulation joined with compassion. When the
President details the lawbreaking and subversive activities of some at
the border, he and his supporters are vilified in the name of
compassion. The deep concerns of many concerning racism and oppression
of the poor must not be dismissed. Neither party has placed legislation
before the White House that ensures hospitable and secure pathways.
aside the extremes of racial nativism and complete open borders, there
are ways forward involving principled compromise…if love is understood
properly. Open borders in the name of compassion may involve a loving
attitude, but agape love looks at the long-term and will foster equal
justice for all. Borders and citizenship are positive principles for a
society built on personal virtue and the rule of law. Reasonable
security is not the absence of love and regulating the influx of new
residents is not the opposite of compassion, but stewardship of
resources and institutions.
love can transform the current debate by unmasking the motives and
methods of current policies. Families should be kept together and given
reasonable time to be heard. But thorough vetting will protect the
nation from criminal elements. Agape love is sometimes “tough love” that
avoids creating generations of welfare dependents and residents that
refuse any assimilation into the values and vision of a pluralistic
society. Agape love considers all facets of social flourishing and
fosters structures of inclusion and wisdom. Agape love also helps people
make friends across cultural divides and offers uniting virtues that
help citizenship be unity-in-diversity.
reform is not an unsolvable problem, if unselfish love guides policy.
Alas, greed and power often overtake true love. Future generations
deserve better, as we welcome people from every corner of our world to
help our nation flourish.
Dear President Trump,
I pray for you: for purity of heart, divine love, and the wisdom and strength to carry out the impossible duties of your office.
Three things I long for as you lead:
- Clear policy communication without personal insults.
- A balanced budget for our children’s future.
- More convening with people that do not agree with you so we might discover a principled middle ground.
I agree on some policies and disagree on others. Your desire to help our
nation will be enhanced with humility. I do not mean apologizing for
particular principles, but opening pathways of peacemaking.
OK, three more things:
- Call a racial reconciliation summit and listen deeply to the cries of the historically underserved.
- Call an immigration summit and forge a hospitable, secure and compassionate policy.
- Meet with leaders of all faiths and none and reaffirm the brilliance of freedom of conscience and true toleration.<
was no fan of the prior administration, but I prayed for and still pray
for those that were part of those years. While applauding some of your
initiatives, I long for you to choose statesmanship. You will never win
over inveterate enemies, but you may get more done in service of all.