A Moral Imperative

Looking at this article, about vacationers rescuing 88 African migrants in the Canary Islands, we should remind ourselves that immigration problems do not exist in the USA alone. And we need to take this as a sign, not that "those people" are invading all over, that civilization is under attack from the pagan hordes. Rather, we need to recognize that maybe these mass movements of people tell us something about our world that we need to fix. Perhaps the disparity between the rich nations and the poor has grown so great that it's reaching a breaking point. And maybe we need to work together to do something more about it.

Those anti-immigration folks – at least in this country – who propound a humanitarian concern for those attempting to come here never-the-less shirk their responsibilities. They might claim, as Ira Mehlman of FAIR did to me, that the USA does what it can to improve the situations in other countries that drive people to our shores but that no ethical system in the world would demand us to impoverish ourselves to help other people. But it doesn't seem to be enough – at least not enough to counterbalance the enforcement movement, which has the direct effect of causing a humanitarian crisis. (By making both legal and illegal entry more difficult, enforcement forces people to their deaths in remote regions of the desert.)

Can we really justify killing migrants just because we spend some money on foreign aid? The issue gets even more complicated when we recognize that the USA has caused or at least exacerbated so many of the drivers for immigration to this country without a serious attempt to take responsibility for those actions.

Again, this is not an all-or-nothing issue in which we must choose between shutting our doors to those in need or ending up on the streets. We can take political steps that are morally responsible. Again, we need to push deeper, towards the heart of the problem, rather than obsessing over battling only the symptoms that affect us. We're not supposed to be that selfish of a people.

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