Justice for Our Neighbors

ORDINARY LIFE - Thoughts and Ideas to Help You Live a Happier Life

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Summary for October 18, 2015

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Mary Lou Strange, vice chair of the board for  Justice for Our Neighbors, spoke to our Ordinary Life group last Sunday.  Justice For Our Neighbors is a United Methodist immigration ministry with an active chapter in Houston.  Mary Lou is a retired attorney from Vincent and Elkins and active in the issues facing immigrants in Texas.

Mary Lou began her talk with reference to Leviticus 19:34, that we are commanded to treat foreigners as we treat native born, and that this passage, and the teachings of Jesus, form the foundation for the United Methodist ministry.

She then proceeded to define the scope of the immigration problem, noting that only about 10 percent of immigrants in this country come in illegally.  She discussed the historical reasons for the sharp uptick in immigration from Mexico several years ago, including the rise of the drug cartels and subsequent crackdown by the army, and high unemployment.  Mexican illegal immigration has moved essentially to zero recently, with as many people going back as there are coming in.

Mary Lou discussed the high levels of immigration from Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, noting that the successful prosecution of the drug cartels in Mexico has driven them into these countries, now amongst the most violent in the world. Mary Lou emphasized that there are moral issues surrounding illegal immigration; the splitting of families, sending children alone to the United States to avoid crime and danger, and the loss of parents who are caught and deported.  She noted that many of the people in the United States illegally actually could have the legal right to live in the country, but that requires a lawyer and the preparation of petitions.  She noted that there are about 250,000 immigrants who could qualify for legal immigration but only about 50 attorneys who provide services to these people.  A prime goal of Justice for Our Neighbors is to increase the legal services available to immigrants.

Mary Lou closed her talk with some examples of the economic impact that would occur if somehow all illegal immigrants were to be deported.  There would be a large number of jobs lost that would not be filled by others.  The taxes paid and the spending for rent, food, and transportation would disappear, causing a major contraction in the economy. 

Mary Lou spoke extemporaneously and hence, there is no transcript of her talk. This is a helpful handout that was used. You can access that, "What Part of Legal Immigration Is It You Don't Understand?, by clicking here. You will find the audio of her talk using the link below.

Be well, and much love.

Bill Kerley

To listen to the audio of the talk, use the link below.