Legal and Religious Scholars Debate ImmigrationBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 Feb 2011 01:46pm |
Legal and religious scholars debate the approach Mississippi should take to deal with the issue of illegal immigration. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on recent panel discussion about ethics and immigration at the Mississippi College of Law in Jackson.
Dr. Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
He argues that illegal immigrants are people who deserve to be treated with dignity, and that to suddenly crack down on laws that have been so lax for so long is unfair.
"Look, if the government were to send me a bill and say 'we have been monitoring you speeding habits on the interstate for the last 26 years by satellite. But we haven't given you a ticket but we are going to give you a ticket retroactively for every time you broke the law speeding. And by the way we are going to confiscate your car' I think most Americans would consider that unfair," Land said.
Lands says Immigrants were drawn here by the promise of work and, if they are law abiding, should be allowed to stay and have a path to citizenship.
But cracking down on loosely enforced laws is exactly the remedy to the problem, according to Jim Edwards with the Center for Immigration Studies.
"If you faithfully enforce the laws at the border, at the work place, federal, state, local level consistently. You will drive people to deport themselves. Self-deportation on their own dime instead of on the tax payer's dime. And it works. it has worked and it will work again if we did it consistently," Edwards said.
Edwards says he is a Christian and thinks mercy should come from the individual and that the government should be primarily concerned with Justice.
The Mississippi legislature is currently working on a bill modeled after the controversial Arizona immigration law. If it passes, it might end up in front of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jess Dickenson. Dickenson wonders if religion should play any role at all.
"I think most of it is simply the difference between federal and state law and who should be enforcing and interpreting that law and whether or not the states are set up to do that and whether it is appropriate," Dickenson said.
Dickenson declined to give an opinion about the constitutionality of the bill Mississippi legislators are considering but says it is legitimate to raise those questions.
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