The immigration bill passed by the Senate in June has been a topic of hot debate for months, and continues to be a source of political controversy. It is often, however, portrayed as a moral issue rather than an issue centered on facts. Various religious groups, including Evangelicals and Catholics, have manipulated the problem of immigration in the United States to be a doctrinal issue. Although I do not view the issue as theological, I investigated the bill from a moral perspective. However, I reached a drastically different conclusion regarding the humanity of large-scale amnesty than those critical of individuals opposing S.744.
It is important to remember that the effects of immigration from Mexico to the United States are not confined within our borders. Mexico has been heavily affected by the mass northern migration, and the effects are especially evident in small towns. Those who are able to work are rapidly evacuating these towns, leaving behind the elderly and ill. These communities are left dependent on aid from family members in the United States. Unfortunately, the amount of money sent home from immigrants has been steadily decreasing in recent years. In 2007, over $26,069 million was sent in remittance to Mexico from the United States. This dropped to $22,446 million in 2012. The elderly who have been left behind find themselves unable to make payments on homes and medical care. Blinded by their desire to create a life in the United States, Mexican migrants are devastating Mexican towns and abandoning their families in the process.
The number of eligible workers vacating their Mexican homes has not left Mexico's job market untouched. Currently, one out of every ten people born in Mexico resides in the United States. As a result of this large-scale northern migration, Mexico is experiencing a male labor shortage in some fields. To compensate, the percentage of women in the workforce is significantly increasing. The men "went to [the] United States and someone [has] to work and to maintain the family" according to Cony Solis. Most specifically, the mining industry, which has always been exclusively available to males, has been opened to women. It is important, in this instance, to remember that the opening of this industry "wasn't a move by women to combat a sexist culture and stand up for their right to equal job opportunities…The mines found themselves shorthanded." Women working in the mines work 12-hour shifts for up to 14 days straight, extending the effect of the labor shortage from merely the workforce to heavily impacting Mexican family life.
Mexico is not the only country suffering as a result of a mass departure of workers to the United States. Guatemala is also heavily impacted by northern migration. Since 2011, the number of illegal immigrants from Latin American countries (excluding Mexico) apprehended at the border has risen 49.7 percent, from 46,997 to 94,532. As parents leave searching for a better life further north, children are being abandoned. Orphanages in Guatemala are filled with children who have been abandoned by choice, rather than as a result of disease or tragedy. The Guatemalan Embassy declined to discuss the matter further, dismissing it as a "sensitive issue." This indicates that the abandonment of children in Guatemala is in fact a widespread problem, likely heavily contributing to the fact of 370,000 orphans. By allowing illegal immigration to our country as an option, we are partly responsible for the suffering these children face and the economic impact on Guatemalan society.
Finally, I urge those who push amnesty for moral reasons to consider the following question: Why is it more moral to assist the poor from foreign countries than to assist those in the United States? Those opposed to the bill may feel sympathy for those who are here illegally, especially the teens and young adults who came here at young ages, yet prioritize the harm that amnesty would cause to young Americans and the well-being of our own youth. There are currently 59 million working-age Americans who are unemployed or out of the labor force entirely. American citizens are unemployed, underemployed, and forced to accept depressed wages, and often on welfare due to job competition. Therefore, we should be equally concerned, if not more so, about taking care of our own citizens.
After this investigation, I am willing to view and discuss amnesty as a moral, even theological, issue. Granting amnesty to the 11-12 million illegal aliens in the U.S encourages those who seek to make America home to abandon their own cities and families, which is far from ethical. By granting amnesty to those illegally in our country, we ignore the pressure placed on the migrants' families and neighbors back home. This pressure is not only visible in communities, but also in the labor force. So, before accusing those who oppose S.744 of insensitivity towards others, consider the negative effects of this amnesty, because they extend far beyond our own borders.