Last week we posted on a recent report by the Brooking Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute, where they outline American attitudes towards religious freedom, Islam and Muslims in American society, and immigrants and immigration.
The survey found that 62% of all Americans would support a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes border security provisions and a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
One of the most interesting aspects of the report is that it confirms an old trend we have observed over the years. In a recent blog post, Brookings’ Senior Fellows E.J. Dionne and William A. Galston summarize the findings:
While numerical majorities support open and comprehensive approaches to immigration, those opposed to such approaches typically report holding their views with more intensity. This tension between diffuse support and concentrated opposition helps explain why immigration reform has been, and remains, so difficult to achieve.
This is nothing new. We have seen a very vocal minority hijack the immigration debate by using inflammatory messages of fear and discrimination to scare politicians from siding with the majority of Americans. Those in favor of reform have been rather lukewarm,favoring reform but comfortable enough with a status quo that gives them the economic benefits of hardworking cheap labor without protecting those same workers from abuse and deportation.
Are we unsure about injustice? What about the painful separation of families is doubtful? Are we willing to turn a blind eye to our two-tier economic system as long as we can benefit from the unprotected labor of others?
These are hard questions we need to be asking ourselves and our neighbors and friends. It has been demonstrated with overwhelming evidence that immigration is not charity, and that as a country we benefit from the incredible drive and resilience of newcomers seeking opportunity. We love what they bring but are less than passionate about their just treatment.
- We are in the majority (even if you feel like the minority)
- We are spread across several political parties (even though they will label you as partisan)
- We are made to look like the minority because we are not being nearly as loud about compassion as a few are being about fear.
Let us remember Martin Luther King’s famous words, which are very applicable to our context: “We will have to repent in this generation, not only for the evil words and deeds of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
Take Action Now and break the silence. Remind Congress and the White House that the majority of Americans believe in justice and compassion.