Immigration: The Relationship Between Expectations and Obligations

This past Friday our class took a field trip to Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Instead of receiving information about the cathedral itself, to our surprise we were all forced to reconsider the ideals and legality that go along with the topic of immigration. Since our classes for the semester revolve around the topic of immigration, this topic was not relatively new. However, our speaker, Fr. John Bakas, asked us to detach our emotions from the legal issues and asked us questions such as: What obligation does the government have to undocumented immigrants?

Now, this question had me stumped and it took me a while to reach my conclusion. This is not simply a question of legality, but also of social context. The flow of immigration has influenced the destiny of the United States, and we must be ready to handle those consequences that follow. Indeed, times and the structure of the United States have changed; therefore, we must handle immigration according to the fluidity of changing demographics that pave way to the laws and policies we enact.

Fr. Bakas touched upon the topic of ethnic enclaves, a subject we have learned over the semester. He argued in favor for the most predominant theory of immigration, the Assimilation Theory, where assimilation is linked to social mobility. However, we have also learned from Jan Lin, a distinguished sociologist, that ethnic enclaves can ensure social mobility so as long networking takes place. Yet, we have to consider to what extent can we expect this social mobility to continue? At what point can these ethnic enclaves support incoming immigrants?

Then, Fr. Bakas linked this question to the government. Such as the humane thing to do when someone is asking for help is to help them, ideally we expect the same from our government. Yet, we have to ask ourselves again to what extent can the government provide aid? Although it is easy to say that we have to help those around us, how far can we really go?

What do you think?

One response to “Immigration: The Relationship Between Expectations and Obligations

  1. This is a good question, regarding morality as well as legality. Personally, I agreed with Father Bakas completely. His idea was to give a lee-way period of 1-2 years for illegals to get work permits, and then proceed to work on gaining citizenship. After the two years are up, the illegal immigrants will be deported if they do not gain citizenship. This allows the immigrants time because the line for citizenship is long, and it promotes them to become legal and not have to worry about deportation. It seems to be the best way of dealing with illegal immigrants because it gives them their options, instead of forcing one thing or another onto them.

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