farmers branch bans renting to undocumented individuals

Voters overwhelmingly approve ordinance that bans renting to illegal immigrants
Farmers Branch, Texas, near Dallas, became the first community in the country to outlaw local landowners from renting to “illegal immigrants”. I hope the community discovers how much of their quality of life depends on undocumented individuals: new construction should slow down quite a bit, or at least skyrocket in price. The same should go for most low-skilled labor, such as dishwashing, lawn work and similar areas.
I am disgusted by the way individuals in this country treat undocumented immigration like a plaque upon this land, yet have zero issues with the United States’ lead in developing economic policies that allow multinational corporations to, for lack of a better word, screw individuals in Latin America, among other places.
NAFTA, the North American Free-Trade Agreement, truly did not help Mexican citizens. NAFTA enabled large multinational, U.S.-based agribusinesses to setup shop in Mexico. How can Mexican farmers compete in the corn market when an U.S. business moves in and is able to produce and sell corn in both the United States and Mexico while their production is subsidized by the United States government. There is much debate on this, with studies published supporting this statement and studies published refuting it. In all cases, parties agree that removing U.S. farm subsidies would allow Mexican farmers to improve their condition.
Undocumented immigrants are not coming into America to have “a better life”; they’re coming into America to have a life. Why else would husbands or wives leave their family, take a journey to the United States that takes the lives of many only to be treated as a second-class individual in the United States?
I find it disturbing and disgusting that lack of charity people possess or the lack of recognition of the inherent human dignity possessed by these migrants. While they have broken the law, their offense is not on par with murder or a sex crime, yet, we label them as criminals. I broke the law when speeding on Mopac or when my tax advisor gave me the Telephone Tax Refund*, yet I’m not worried about having a paramilitary police force raid my apartment, have people spit at me or yell insults, be banned from renting an apartment, have my name listed on a criminal database or all those other things we reserve for the “worst” of our criminals.
The local diocesan newspaper quoted the a city parish’s pastor as saying,

“I haven’t preached directly about the ordinance.I’ve mentioned that we are challenged to welcome the stranger, but we are also challenged to maintain the social order in our society. We must do it humanely and justly. People are not disposable. People have innate dignity. People get very emotional about this undocumented business. Part of that is that there is fear of some type of chaos.”

Perhaps this is part of the problem? Are we challenged to maintain the social order in our society? I know Jesus was radical and all, but he did seek to maintain the social order that involved the moneychanger’s “right” to transact business on the temple grounds, right? Didn’t he also maintained the social order by never challenging the religious figures of the time? Oh yeah, he maintained the social order through allowing the angry mob to stone the woman accused of adultery.
Wait, sorry, I was reading the wrong gospel, the gospel seen in many American churches that says whatever we want it to say. In the Gospel that I’m versed in, Jesus challenged the social order when an injustice existed. Why are we exempt from that today?

Social and political charity is not exhausted in relationships between individuals but spreads into the network formed by these relationships, which is precisely the social and political community; it intervenes in this context seeking the greatest good for
the community in its entirety
. In so many aspects the neighbor to be loved is found “in society”, such that to love him concretely, assist him in his needs or in his indigence may mean something different than it means on the mere level of relationships between individuals.
To love him on the social level means, depending on the situations, to make use
of social mediations to improve his life or to remove social factors that cause
his indigence
. It is undoubtedly an act of love, the work of mercy by which
one responds here and now to a real and impelling need of one’s
neighbor, but it is an equally indispensable act of love to strive to
organize and structure society
so that one’s neighbor will not find himself
in poverty, above all when this becomes a situation within which an immense
number of people and entire populations must struggle, and when it takes on the
proportions of a true worldwide social issue.

This quote, taken from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (available as a published book or as online text) published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace sums it up. We’re called to love all in our society, not only in terms of the emotional, but also in terms of the social. We’re further challenged to “love” our neighbor by working for a social order that enables them to escape the shackles of poverty.
In the case of Farmers Branch, the newly-banned illegal immigrants easily fall within the category of neighbor. For the rest of us, as we promote the new global community as the reason why our stock portfolios are looking great or celebrate new technological tools enabling the “world to shrink”, shouldn’t we also look at the poor around the world as our neighbor? Shouldn’t we love him or her as we’re able, including sharing the Good News with them and working that their living conditions match their human dignity?
This is for another post, but chew on this. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that there is enough food in the world to fully nourish everyone on the planet. Yet, data (more data) indicates that a large portion of the global population are lacking the proper nutrition. As we get hot under the collar about our brothers and sisters from Central and South America coming to America to help provide for their livelihood, shouldn’t we feel just a bit guilty for spending our time protesting migrants instead of working toward adequate nutrition for the world’s population?






Leave a Reply