In the 2013 movie Elysium, a mother has a very sick child. In this Sci-Fi film there are two planets… one of prosperity, the other of poverty. This mother lives on the impoverished planet. She cannot get medical care for her dying child and decides to sneak into the prosperous planet, Elysium. She does so and her child is healed.
I am confident virtually no human being watching this movie would think this mother did anything morally wrong. To the contrary, it is obvious to viewers of this film that her mother was heroic. She risked her own life for the life of her child.
Yet she broke the law. And no one thinks she did anything wrong… to moviegoers this is absolutely obvious.
And this is the situation undocumented immigrants are in. We are the prosperous planet with unspeakable wealth and they are the ones experiencing suffering that most of us cannot even fathom.
It should be absolutely obvious we haven’t the slightest right to criticize them for coming here even if they broke the law.
Americans Have No Right to be Greedy
Americans aren’t superior to anyone else and if you think so that is pretty much the definition of racism and exactly what we fought against in WWII (the Germans thought they were superior to all other races).
Americans have no more right to this wealth than anyone else. We are all human beings who are of equal worth and value. Not a single one of us can say their child deserves healthcare while someone in the third world doesn’t.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
People don’t just have rights, they have responsibilities. Neglecting your own responsibilities can be even worse than violating someone else’s rights.
Is anything more despicable than allowing a child to die at your doorstep when you have the power to help them? We haven’t the slightest moral high ground to let their child suffer. In fact, it is actually a crime to neglect your responsibility to help someone in this situation.
Responsibility is that serious…
And we absolutely have a responsibility to help the rest of the world with what we have. Letting a child die at your doorstep or live their life in agony out there is just as evil as going out there yourself and killing them. We have responsibility we cannot escape, and that makes us both in no position to judge them and in the position to be rightly judged if we don’t help them.
But undocumented immigrants aren’t in such terrible conditions!
Actually, no. The world IS a tragic place with suffering in other countries that the first-world can barely fathom. Many people literally have to sell their children into sexual slavery to survive. A professor of mine who was from India remembers seeing his friends be sold into slavery… and the price? Last I checked (less than ten yeas ago) it was about 15 dollars to buy a slave.
Of course while not everyone is in such a dire circumstance the point is the same. Going to Elysium because your child will literally die or going there because you may die in the future due to lack of health care… or because you risk a miserable unsafe life in your current situation is a difference of degree, not of substance. The Elysium example absolutely proves “it’s against the law” is a joke as a convincing moral argument against those in need.
But we can’t let everyone in… that is crazy!
I grant this… at least for the sake of argument. Virtually no one is suggesting we let everyone in. That is a straw man. Letting everyone in and having mercy on people already here are two very different things.
But what about people who have waited in the legal route?
We aren’t talking about people who just came here last night. Again, virtually no one is suggesting we let them stay. But people who have raised kids here, people who have spent a decade or even four or five are a part of our culture now. Americans hired them, and this is their home. Many came as children and don’t even speak the language of the country they came from. This is all they know.
I’m sorry if someone is waiting in line… but nothing about that gives us the right to be cruel to our neighbors. As the Declaration of Independence says, everyone has rights, not from laws, but from God. And these people are our neighbors and we aren’t respecting their God-given rights.
For more on this see: 5 Flaws of the “It’s the Law” defense of Mass Deportation