Serendipity. Me and Tancredo, of all people.
Start here: The press has been buzzing today about former Colorado congressman and US presidential candidate, Tom Tancredo, having to cut a speech short yesterday at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill due to protesters on his stance toward illegal/unauthorized immigration to the US. With regard to state universities, Tancredo is opposed to granting in-state college tuition to children whose parents came to the US outside of legal immigration procedures.
I am not a fan of Tancredo or his policies. The time has come in this country for us to deal once and for all with an issue we have been ignoring for decades, with humanity and compassion for those who have escaped poverty and taken on service jobs most Americans would not. With regard to children of illegal immigrants, my colleagues Sandra Porter and Isis have spoken eloquently and passionately about a solution: the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) Act. As Isis responded to a commenter:
For many who immigrate to the US, coming here isn’t like moving from the city to the suburbs to get an extra garage bay and a bigger backyard. They flee disease and hunger. They flee oppressive governments. The flee outrageous infant mortality. And they often flee with an idea of what the American dream really means, wanting to work to obtain it. In their native countries there’d be no opportunity for education. To ask them to return home to “fight for it their” would be akin to asking them to return home to die.
However, I am disappointed that student protesters created a scene at UNC yesterday, involving broad pepper spray and Taser threats, that made immigration reform supporters appear as intolerant as the Tancredo camp (higher ed reporter Eric Ferreri posted Tancredo’s official comments here at his Campus Notes blog.)
I would’ve preferred a debate and engagement with Tancredo such as that which occurred at the University of Denver with Colorado’s first Black Speaker of the State House, Terrance Carroll.
Turns out that earlier in the day, I had been leafing through 5280, the city mag from my old high-country stompin’ grounds. (An aside to my colleagues heading out to Denver this weekend for the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR): pick up a copy of 5280 and use their website for food and drink recs – or e-mail me.).
Therein was a great article on Carroll (click here or on photo above) beginning with a story of his rebuttal to Tancredo’s invocation of the Bible to support immigration intolerance:
Yes, he [Carroll] says, our immigration system is broken, but the nation and Colorado still must confront the demand for low-skill, low-wage workers, the lack of native-born citizens who are willing to fill the jobs, and our inflexible labor laws. “Most importantly,” he says, restricting immigration is “a direct challenge to the moral, cultural, and social fiber of this nation and of this state.”
Later in the evening, once the floor has been opened to questions, an audience member asks what role faith should play in the immigration debate. Tancredo, an evangelical Presbyterian, says, “I believe that I have a responsibility both to the oath of office I take and to my conscience…. That’s my job, and that’s what I need to do, and that’s what I have to do to face my Maker. And I’m comfortable with that…. But nowhere in the Bible can you find me anything that says, ‘Protect the people who’ve violated the law of your land by coming in.’ ”
Carroll, who happens to be a Baptist minister, excitedly raises his hand. “Can I respond to that?” he asks. “Leviticus 19:33 and 34 clearly state that the strangers who live among your land, do not mistreat them, do not oppress them. Treat them as if they are citizens and native born of your land.”
The audience erupts with cheers. [Denver Mayor John] Hickenlooper and [former Governor Bill] Owens laugh out loud at the young upstart’s sudden outburst. “And then it goes on to say, ‘You were aliens in Egypt, so love them as you love yourself,'” Carroll continues. “So there’s a very clear biblical mandate for how we deal with the strangers among us that goes beyond women and children. What it does say–without making the distinction between illegal and legal aliens–it says treat them as if they’re native born. If you’re going to use the Scriptures as a basis, you have to seriously deal with the issue and address it and not work your way around it.”