Monday, March 23, 2009

Justice and Mercy

One of the most difficult political discussions right now centers on the question of illegal immigration. Personally this is a difficult subject for me. I served a Spanish speaking mission for my Church. I served here in the United States. As a result I know and worked with and love dearly a whole lot of immigrants, both legal and not so much. I feel strongly that the vast majority of immigrants to the United States want the very same thing that most of us desire, a better life for ourselves and for our families. This is the greatest country in the world. It is unsurprising that people want to come here. It is actually an honor.

For a long time when the discussion of illegal immigration came up my response was what I considered a very valid one. “There’s an easy solution to illegal immigration, change the laws!”

But, I decided that I wanted to make a concerted effort to study the issue more and to really come up with a more concise position. What I found is there is no easy solution. It is one of those difficult situations where you want to try to separate the people from the problem, but it just can’t happen.

The two principles that kept coming to mind as I studied are justice and mercy. Justice is absolutely key to our country. We are a Republic, that’s right folks a Republic not a Democracy. You can probably get away with saying we are a Democratic Republic because the people do have a voice in voting for our government officials and in ratifying amendments and such. But, we are a Republic which means that we are ruled by law. This is the basis of justice. There is a law and there are freedoms and punishments affixed to the law. The law must be enforced. Justice by it’s nature is not compassionate, it is firm and immoveable. Can there by changes to the law? Absolutely. Do the laws in regards to immigration need changing? Maybe. That’s hard to answer because the immigration laws are not really being enforced.

I think that the law must be used to contain the exploitation of illegal immigrants by employers. Those employers are exploiting immigrants, our laws, and us.

What about mercy? As I’ve already stated we are a nation of laws. Thus there really is no room for mercy in our justice system. But, I absolutely believe that mercy is an essential element for the solution of illegal immigration. Mercy should not come from the government it should come from all of us.

Most of us understand the importance of loving our neighbor and doing what we can do help our neighbors. Mexico is our neighbor guys. I think far too many people have fallen into a trap of demonizing the Mexican population and belittling their culture and government. What we ought to be doing is embracing one another.

The United States is the most giving nation in the world. I would love love love if more of that giving nature was directed towards our neighbors to the south. We can help make that beautiful country safer and more desirable to live in. I’m not sure what that would look like, but I know it would have to come from us as a people and not from our government. As I have noted before the government really really stinks at this kind of work. It has to be us. The schemes and governments of men will not be the solution. The compassion born of the divinity that is within each one of us, can draw us together and begin a healing process that is so needed.

I know I’m not really offering concrete solutions here. But, it is a shift in my thinking that I think I needed to share. Justice by way of government. Mercy by way of us.

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