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Rendering Unto Caesar

Like many Americans these days, I go to church to be upset. As in almost every other institution in the West, most mainstream churches have been taken over by leftists, gutted from the inside, and worn as skinsuits while the invaders demand respect. This leaves many of the faithful believers thinking that they don’t have a place to go. I can’t prove it, but judging by my own family, attendance is probably down.

This week the Catholics were assaulted with a letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It said:

We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers. With the March 5th deadline looming, we ask once again that the Members of Congress show the leadership necessary to find a just and humane solution for these young people, who daily face mounting anxiety and uncertainty."

We are also announcing a National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers. This coming weekend we will be asking the faithful across the nation to call their Members of Congress next Monday, February 26, to protect Dreamer from deportation, to provide them with a path to citizenship and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.

Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters.  We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity in a special way.  Now is the time for action.

First of all, remember the rule of high-pressure sales? The deadline is on the fifth, but if you call now, in this special way, you’ll secure the special medal of charity™.  Be the first in your parish to earn the medal.

Second, let me state my biases, all my biases on this issue.

I am an immigrant from a Latin country.  I came here, 33 years ago, with twenty kilos of clothing, my education, and not much else, having spent my entire savings to secure the ticket to join my then boyfriend in North Carolina. We got married a couple of weeks later, and I applied for a green card. I did not apply for citizenship for five years, though I worked very hard at acculturating.

As part of this bias, I must tell you that acculturation is hard. Very hard.

Culture is not, as some idiots on the left and right believe, genetic, but it is something inculcated into you from your very earliest breath, your very first awareness of the world.

When I came here, people often looked at me with a puzzled expression. Granted, they still do that. I write science fiction. I also have an accent you can cut diamonds on. But they used to stare at me even when I kept my mouth shut. At the very basic level, people from other cultures move differently. They shop differently, they think differently, and they live differently.

The hardest part of acculturation is questioning everything you are and do. It’s like dying a little. You emerge on the other side much closer to a citizen of your adopted country than of your original country. Some things will linger. I’m still incapable of being rude to someone older than I to his or her face. (Though to be fair, I never met Hillary Clinton in person.) I count in Portuguese, say the multiplication tables in Portuguese, and pray in Portuguese.

As for the rest, because what I wanted to do was write stories that would appeal to Americans, well… you won’t find much Portuguese there.

So my first bias is that immigration and acculturation, immigration to become part of the country and belong to it, is a difficult topic, one of which most people don’t have the faintest clue.

If I’d been with my family and friends and immigrated en mass, would I now be effectively American de facto as well as de jure? I don’t know. I rather suspect not.

Of course, if I hadn’t acculturated, it wouldn’t make a great deal of difference. I was one person alone. But when we’re faced with a continuous stream over a virtually unguardable border it does make a difference, because if those immigrants come not to acculturate but to get what America can give, they’re going to change our culture. Further, if those immigrants come possessed with a theory of racial/ethnic superiority and how they “own” half of our country, it’s going to create a  poisonous subculture in our midst.

I have another bias, one that puts me in sympathy with people who dragged or sent (remember Obama’s children’s crusade, encouraging/sending their minor children unaccompanied over the border? How can you have forgotten it) their kids into the U.S. I come from a country where for many years it was the norm for people to immigrate illegally to France and Germany in search of a better life for themselves and a future for their children. My family didn’t do it (I think. I believe my grandfather had visas in his time abroad) but countless neighbors did, and I heard enough conversations of the ins and outs of people smugglers and those who were trusted and those who weren’t. And I felt for those people, I really did, going forth to earn their living among strangers.

My other point of sympathy (and something else) with the Dreamers is the following: when the Portuguese colonies in Africa were granted independence sold wholesale to the USSR and their Cuban mercenaries, white people were told to leave.

We had hundreds of thousands of these “repatriated” pour into continental Portugal with no idea of the culture, habits, or even language of the locals (actually a lot of them were black too, though they were actively prevented from living by their new overlords. They found a way.) There were significant differences in dialect. It is profoundly disturbing to find yourself an adult in a culture you never lived in (I should know).  And many of those refugees had never lived anywhere but Africa for generations.

Those are my biases.

I see the bishops’ biases too. Much was said about charity and welcoming the poor and oppressed, but dear Lord, borders exist for a reason and charity is not a principle of geopolitics. The American people are generous to a fault. Many of us support children in other countries. Many send money to disaster relief around the world. But unless you believe there is some magic to the very soil that makes the U.S. prosperous, we cannot and should not allow in everyone in the world who has a need, because if we do, we will end up with our country becoming like the place they came from. (How many states see that with Californians, without even dealing with foreigners?)

Also, the church is a geopolitical identity. I am sure at some level they see a flood of Catholic immigrants, making them a power in the land. I hate to say this, but this has been obvious from the first. Though to be honest, they also advocate for us to take in a lot of Arab “refugees” so they might be just terminally out of touch and ditsy.

The Church often forgets that Christ did not command us to go into the world like idiots. Sure, He said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Note the shrewd. The bishops might want to become more so. Nothing comes of despoiling a safe country and handing yourself bound to people who’ll destroy its culture, and therefore its very existence.

Now the dreamers. I sympathize with their plight. I do. Mind you, they’ve already had the advantage of growing up well fed, many at public expense, and they've been given a free public education in the U.S. (Whether that’s an advantage or not, you judge.)

I think that yeah, Trump is right, we should offer a path to citizenship to a maximum of 1.8 million, given certain conditions. I think my conditions are more stringent than the president’s: no prior convictions. No relying on welfare since coming of age. Speaking English as their primary language. Never having been members of a racial superiority organization with claims on the territory of the U.S., like La Raza. Never having demanded that the flag of Mexico be recognized instead of that of the U.S. Being willing to forego all allegiance foreign or domestic that impedes their devotion to the U.S. Constitution.

If any of them meet all of those conditions, give them the green card. If they keep their nose clean however many years (I think it’s 10 now) they can take the citizenship exam. If they don’t, ship them to their country of origin.

And as for that gobbledygook about “protecting families,” no. Just no. The parents who dragged or sent their minor children, in order to exploit the sympathy and good heart of a nation, don’t get rewarded for this. Send them back. If the kids are minors, they can either go back with their parents or be relinquished for adoption. Judging by how many Americans adopt from China and other countries, there is a need.

Yes, it sounds horribly harsh, but only that will prevent future kids from being risked on the horrible journey where many die or are raped. Because otherwise, desperate people will use their children as pawns again, to enter a country where they can have a better future.

This is a case where being kind to this batch just creates more cruelty to the next.

But, Sarah, you’ll say, you’ll admit they’re in search of a better life. You did that yourself, didn’t you? How can you deny them?

I came in search of a better life, but if I hadn’t happened to marry a citizen, I had offers of employment (skilled employment at that) which would have supported me and secured me a green card.

Thing is, I came here legally. Lots of us did. And went through an arduous process to get citizenship.

We did not come over with the intent of keeping our culture, our ways, and of being supported by a more than generous welfare state.

Yeah, lots of immigrants come that way, even if illegally. The thing is, by coming that way, they are jumping the line. Every country in the world, and the U.S. too, has requirements for their legal immigrants. It starts with “do a job that America needs done” and doesn’t include “do a job at less than minimum wage, illegally” because that’s something else again. It includes things like keeping out of legal trouble and supporting yourself. And not starting by jumping the border.

The kids are already here.  They had the advantages of an American education. If they fit the bill for legal immigrants, keep them.  Their parents broke the law and in some cases exploited their children. Send them back.

Oh, and the children who don’t qualify for legal immigration? Send them back, too. My sister-in-law was born and raised in Mozambique and went to continental Portugal with the clothes on her back at 22. She’s a doctor and perfectly integrated into local life. Humans are more plastic than that, and if these children don’t speak English as a native language, they speak Spanish. (Most of them do.) They can integrate back where their parents dragged them from.

Despoiling ourselves to become a Third World country won’t help the poor of the world. Wealth isn’t the result of geography but of culture. Destroy our culture and we destroy our wealth.

I agree with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that if they are having this big call-in push, you should call in. But not to tell them that we need a deal on the Dreamers now or under any circumstances. Rather, advise our representatives to be as shrewd as serpents. Whatever deal they make let it be one that doesn’t destroy the livelihood and culture of the country simply so that we can look charitable to strangers.

Pray on it, call your conscience.