Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No religious test for illegal immigrants

In Tuesday night’s debate of the Republican Presidential candidates, Newt Gingrich said he would give amnesty to immigrants that are currently living in the United States with some conditions. In part, he said:

"If you've been here 25 years and you've got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out," he said.

The part of the answer that says, “…you belong to a local church…” is the most troubling. The United States has offered amnesty to illegal immigrants since the early 1800s. The latest offer from Gingrich to provide amnesty to those living here in good standing is nothing new. I also, don’t believe, like Gingrich, that we should tear apart families and the lives of others by booting them out of the country.

But, by adding the local church part, Gingrich is appling a religious test that clearly shouldn't be a part of the conditions. In the Constitution it states in very clear words that there should be no religious test given to anyone that will hold office or a position of public trust. Why, then, should a religious test to be applied to illegal immigrants that would be allowed to stay in the country for all other reasons? Church of course, means a Christian religion. Why shouldn’t it apply to Jews that join a synagogue, Muslims that join a mosque or, how about atheists that join a humanist temple? The religious affiliation, or lack of, should not be part of the selection criteria for people that would be allowed to stay.

Gingrich is wrong to think that a religious test of any kind should be given. That applies illegal immigrants that will be granted amnesty or anyone else that will arrive at our shores.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Failure of debt committee could start a real conversation about government

It could be that Newt Gingrich and I are in agreement with the failure of the deficit committee, if not for the same reasons.

This could be good for America.

The debt cutting committee that was put in place by congress a few months ago, with an equal amount of Republicans and Democrats, wasn’t able to come up with a plan to cut the deficient. It appears that the right used its powerful force to keep the Republicans from approving any increase in taxes despite the Democrats agreeing to make deep cuts in social spending.

Now for the part that is good for America. Congress will have to deal directly with this issue without hiding from it behind the committee. If a deal had been made, every member of congress and the president himself, could have hidden behind the outcome and not take any responsibility. Now, members of congress will have to go on the record with why they are cutting social spending and why they are raising taxes.

This will help start a sincere and honest dialogue in this country. Not about the debt as much as what we expect out of government. That government was formed not to stand on the side lines and watch people suffer, but to help all people in the community live the best lives they can.

If we could come to terms – read compromise – on the issue of government we would understand why some programs need to be temporally cut and taxes need to be raised temporality. It would keep the debt from getting too high and still help people in this country that need help.

So, let congress begin its debate. Let’s wait for them to get their party positions out of the away. Then, let’s ask them to get down to the real business of government. To come to a compromise that provides a safe and secure environment for everyone in the community.