The Corner

Episcopalians Vs. The Law

Just been reading a report on the 137th Convention of the Diocese of Long

Island. The Convention (that is, of the Episcopal Church) took place last

month. Among the resolutions passed was the following.

3. Concerning Human Rights: Immigration and Undocumented Workers.

Whereas, at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting last

summer, Deputies from our Diocese proposed a resolution on “Human Rights:

Immigration and Undocumented Workers,”

Whereas, this resolution passed both the House of Bishops and House of

Deputies and will be forwarded to members of Congress and state legislatures

as an authoritative “expression of the Episcopal Church” urging

“…that the Congress of the United States enact legislation to expand the

temporary workers’ programs to include all persons currently residing in the

United States engaged in meaningful labor…”

“…that such temporary workers receive such compensation and benefits for

themselves and their dependents living with them that parallel those

available to other legal residents such as the Federally mandated minimum

hourly wage, Social Security, drivers’ licenses, medical care and


“…that based upon a specified period of residence in the United States,

such workers have the option of adjusting to permanent resident status,

which could lead to naturalization.”

Therefore be it resolved that this 137th Convention of the Diocese of Long

Island designate the Second Sunday of Lent, March 7, 2004, to be

Immigration and Undocumented Workers Human Rights Sunday, and be it



Resolved that the clergy and lay leaders of each of our parishes be urged,

on that Sunday, (1) to call attention to the plight of Undocumented Workers

in our communities and across our nation, (2) to make use of a bulletin

insert “fact sheet” prepared by the Long Island Episcopal Immigration

Taskforce for that occasion and (3) to invite informed speakers to talk

about immigration into America…

Now (this is Derb again) I’d like to make a couple of points here. First,

the conflation of immigration with the issue of “Undocumented Workers.”

These are two separate issues. In fact, they are in a sense two OPPOSITE

issues, like arson and fire brigades. Immigration concerns the orderly

entry of foreigners into this country, according to the laws of the U.S.A.

and associated regulations. “Undocumented Workers” are people who have

scoffed at those laws and wilfully violated those regulations. Immigration

and “Undocumented Aliens” do not comprise one single issue. It is gross

dishonesty to put them together as a single issue.

Second, “temporary workers’ programs” are a species of immigration policy.

Most of the workers brought in by them will stay here. There is, as

everyone who has studied the issue agrees, nothing temporary about

“temporary” immigrants. Thus, “to expand the temporary workers’ programs to

include all persons currently residing in the United States engaged in

meaningful labor” actually means “to make illegal immigrants legal.” It is,

in a word, amnesty.

Third, given that “temporary workers” are just a species of resident aliens,

the second quoted paragraph is redundant. The entire sense-content of these

first two quoted paragraphs is as follows: “Make illegal immigrants legal,

so that they have access to all the welfare benefits legal immigrants have

access to.”

Fourth, that third quoted paragraph illustrates the thing I just said: that

“temporary workers” will mostly stay here. They are immigrants. And by the

way, what “specified period” does the Convention have in mind? I entered

this country legally in October 1985, jumped through all the INS hoops, and

got permanent residence status in November 1993–over EIGHT YEARS. I doubt

this is a record. May we at least be assured that whatever the record is

for a LEGAL immigrant such as myself, the “specified period” for these

ILLEGAL immigrants will be LONGER? Or would that somehow infringe upon

their “human rights”?

And finally, having passed through the immigration mill, I consider myself

an “informed speaker,” and will be glad to address any Long Island

congregation on the topics (that’s a plural, mind) of “Undocumented Workers”

and immigration.