June 13, 2014

Letters to the Editor

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We need to respect opposing views to solve immigration issue, reader says

In his reflection in the June 6th edition of The Criterion, editor emeritus John F. Fink provided one view of how to proceed with immigration reform.

He argued that, for business and justice reasons, immigration reform should be passed by Congress this year, and he supports the bill passed by the U.S. Senate.

He stated essentially that more low-skill workers are needed by American businesses that have a hard time getting U.S. citizens to perform low-paying jobs. Also, he said that we are obliged by the Church to welcome people fleeing more difficult circumstances.

On the face of it, such an argument certainly sounds reasonable economically and compassionate on the human level.

When looked at more closely, it is not that simple. When there is a greater influx of people willing to accept lower wages for work, the overall average wage decreases.

Businesses may be able to get their “cheap labor,” but those citizens in our society currently barely getting by with the jobs they have will find their wages lowered due to the greater supply of labor.

This would force people who are currently self-sufficient into dependency on the government. The economic analysis of the Senate plan was done by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

From this perspective, it starts to look less reasonable and certainly not compassionate to our fellow citizens struggling to hang on.

Americans are the most generous people in the world. Most of us are descendants of immigrants. It is in our national fabric to welcome those seeking refuge and a better way of life. But we need to do so in an economically sustainable way.

The immigration debate is a difficult one because it has become politicized with each “side” claiming the monopoly on compassion and/or wisdom.

Most people agree that there needs to be a solution to the problem; they just disagree as to what that is.

It does not help to characterize those who oppose a certain solution as “xenophobic” as Fink does.

Just because someone holds a different opinion from ours does not warrant demonizing or stereotyping them. That is happening far too frequently in the country already.

If we are going to solve the immigration issue responsibly, we need to respect opposing views as to how to do it.

- Dr. Stephen O’Neil | Indianapolis

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