PEC News & Opinion Blog

A Christian Response to Michigan House Bill 4305 by Paul Brun Del Re

Do not mistreat the foreigners who reside in your land. The foreigner who lives among you must be treated like one of your own. Love them as you love yourself, for you too were a stranger in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

We should remember our ancestors’ plight as unwelcome strangers of their generation.  They were mistreated and abused for speaking a foreign language or holding different beliefs.  They too were seen as the cause of problems in their communities and were political fodder for those who would take advantage of their situation.

Proposed legislation House Bill (HB) 4305 in the Michigan House of Representatives is an “Arizona style” immigration bill.  This legislation would require law enforcement agencies in the state to enforce federal immigration laws and request documents from anyone they suspect might be in the U.S. illegally.  It also imposes harsher penalties on the undocumented as well as allowing citizens to bring suit in circuit court against any official or agency that limits or restricts enforcement of federal immigration law.

On March 1, 2011, an interfaith group of of Lansing-area ministers and other supporters spoke out strongly against the bill.  I am encouraging everyone to contact their state representatives to vote “No” on HB 4305. I would also encourage you to e-mail or write to Governor Rick Snyder expressing your opposition to this bill.  You can get the phone number or mailing address for your State Representative or State Senator here.  A sample letter for your state legislature can be found here.

There are many good reasons why the State of Michigan should not go down the same path as the State of Arizona.  Here are some to consider from the Michigan League for Human Services Report of February 2011:

  • Immigration is good for business and immigrants perform vital services to all our citizens. Hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, motels, restaurants, landscape and agricultural enterprises in the state rely on immigrant workers. Thirty-three percent of all high tech startups in Michigan are initiated by immigrants.  Over 2,000 new businesses were started by Michigan immigrants from 1996-2007, which is seventh among all states.
  • Michigan’s economy would be negatively impacted by this bill and could lose over $3.8 billion in economic activity and some 20,000 jobs with the removal of undocumented workers from the labor force.  It could likely increase state expenditures for costly litigation and increased local law enforcement as well as lost business and revenue due to boycotts of the state, as happened in Arizona.
  • Immigrants do not raise unemployment.  Arizona has seven times the number of unauthorized workers yet has a lower unemployment rate than Michigan.
  • Immigrants purchasing power from Latinos and Asians combined totaled $17.6 billion.  Personal income of undocumented workers accounts for $1 billion in taxable income.  They pay sales and property taxes and pay into Social Security but may not be able to collect benefits.

For more information or to share comments with the Church of the Brethren’s Peace Education Coordinator Paul Brun Del, please send email messages to pec.comments@gmail.com.

Paul Brun Del Re is the Peace Education Coordinator for the Church of the Brethren and a member of the Peace Education Center’s Board of Directors.  A version of this editorial will be published in the Michigan Church of the Brethren newsletter.

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