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Sister Anne Hablas, Fargo letter: The U.S. is a nation of immigrants

One recent letter to the Forum (May 16) called for "Stopping the flow of illegal immigrants," while a second one (May 17) was headlined "Illegal aliens causing disaster in the U.S."...

One recent letter to the Forum (May 16) called for "Stopping the flow of illegal immigrants," while a second one (May 17) was headlined "Illegal aliens causing disaster in the U.S."

We Presentation Sisters, based here in Fargo, have spent over 50 years in part-time (mostly summer) ministry with the migrants who come to the Red River Valley to work in the fields. It is hard to think of these hard working people, whom we have come to know and respect, as "illegal aliens." From our faith perspective, whether they are here legally or not, they are children of God, many of whom are driven to leave their place of birth in order to survive.

In Mexico, U.S. trade policies, especially the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have destroyed the economy of Mexico, wiping out subsistent farmers there. The increase in immigration to the United States can be linked not only to our country's unfair trade policies but also to the need and desire of American companies to hire unskilled immigrants for work Americans don't wish to do.

Far from causing "economic and social disaster in the United States," migrants stimulate the economy by paying sales and property taxes and by contributing to Social Security. According to a study published in 2005, undocumented immigrants paid $6 billion to $7 billion in Social Security taxes that they can never claim. One Forum letter writer referred to the "free health care" the undocumented receive. Actually, they are not eligible for public benefits, with the exception of emergency medical care.

It is helpful to remember that we are a nation of immigrants. At a recent conference on immigration, all the participants were asked to answer these questions: In what year did your family come to the U.S.? Where did your family come from? Why did they come? What was their struggle to assimilate?

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We read in the Scriptures, "You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt." Leviticus 19:33-34

Sister Anne Hablas

Presentation Center

Fargo

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