Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Immigration is Everyone's Problem

Just read another article about a hot topic of discussion these days, "illegal immigration" by Daniel Pipes. There's a lot of talk about the need to build bigger walls and use the military to prevent people from entering Western countries illegally (ironic if you pause for a moment and consider the history of European and American colonialism and enslavement of peoples from the very countries they are so concerned about). Note the dehumanizing way that the people attempting to immigrate illegally are described. As a Baha'i I do not believe that poverty, deprivation or even threats to one's life are necessarily justifications for breaking the law. Because I belong to a faith community which is global I know many people personally who have had to immigrate to other countries, but who do so legally. But I also believe that all humanity is responsible for addressing the systems of oppression which concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, while denying it to the vast majority of my fellow human beings. The current world (dis)order that perpetuates such systems is a major contributor to people being so desperate that they will risk their lives to leave their homes. I do not believe that because of the accident of my being born in America that I am entitled to a better life than other people on this planet. People should be able to live in dignity in their country of origin as well as have the freedom to live in any country they chose as long as they do so legally. As Baha'u'llah has said, "The earth is one country and mankind its citizens." The idea that we can solve the problem of illegal immigration by retreating behind our borders and building the biggest possible walls, with the sharpest razor wire and soldiers armed to the teeth is a fantasy. Not only is it spiritually and morally bankrupt, it is impractical. We need real leadership which is focused on creating a global order that reflects the reality that humanity is a single people and the earth is our common homeland. Immigration is everyone's problem.