give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free. . .
This month our theme addresses immigration issues that have become forefront in today's legislative and media discourse. Immigration policy has to address a range of economic, humanitarian, and ethical issues. Central to the debate are differing evaluations of the rights of immigrants to be with their families, to find haven from political persecution, to seek a better standard of living, and the rights of native-born citizens to determine who lives, works, and benefits from public services in their country.
Current immigration policy is failing on numerous accounts. Stricter border controls have proved unable to stem illegal immigration flows, leading instead to rising human rights abuses and victimization of border-crossers. Immigrants fill jobs that U.S. citizens often reject, help the U.S. economy maintain competitiveness in the global economy, and stimulate job creation in depressed neighborhoods. But net benefits also conceal losses for vulnerable sectors of the U.S. population because some employers would rather hire foreigners who often work harder for less pay than U.S. citizens. Immigration also has implications for U.S. population growth, environmental protection, and the demand for new infrastructure. Immigration's fiscal costs and contributions are difficult to correctly evaluate. The weigh-in is always framed in economic terms. Is there more drain from funds for social welfare and job displacement costs than immigrants pay in taxes? Unfortunately, evidence supports both views.
A well-reasoned ethical approach in the abstract below is in David DeCosse's paper “Immigration: Should the Rules Change?” He is the director of campus ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
The moral philosopher Simone Weil described the heart of the ethical challenge of immigration that faces us when she said, "We must come to see the immigrant or refugee 'as a man or woman, exactly like us, who was one day stamped with a special mark by affliction."
The vast complexity of immigration requires attention to questions of fact and to ethical principles that apply to the largest institutions in society. There are questions of fact that are crucial to better understand the immigration's ethical issues: the ethical norms and legal regimes that govern immigration are different than yesteryears, the vast movement of people has to be worked with not denied, and the reality of today's immigration reflects the world's interdependence.
The three central ethical issues to use as a guide are who do you admit and on what basis as a full member of your community, how should we balance the right to migrate and the right of a sovereign state to limit migration and are these rights of equal value, and have we separated rights and responsibilities in our discussions of immigration.
Today it is often said that our Western culture is threatened by the vast numbers of immigrants often of different skin color or dress or religion moving into our midst. But to which version of Western culture do we appeal? At the root of the Western tradition is an admonition that could not be clearer: Not only are we to welcome the alien and stranger but we are to love that man, woman, or child as we love ourselves; we are to see them as "a man or woman, exactly like us." That is the beginning and the end of the ethical challenge of immigration.
Deepening Circle, 2:30-4:30pm
There is room for one or two more participants. If you are interested in joining this reflective sharing/discussion please contact Randy Best and he will provide details.
All members, friends, and guests of EHST are welcome. Please RSVP by Friday, March 1st, with a general description of the dish you are bringing.
4306 Malvern Rd.
Durham, NC 27707
"Uniting North Carolinians through Personal Experiences and Shared Values"
Francisco Chavez, Board Member
George Alwon, Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator
"Uniting NC is a North Carolina nonprofit that works to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and US-born Americans. The ultimate goal of Uniting NC is to make our state a place in which all North Carolinians feel welcome, and together build stronger, more productive communities."
George Alwon, director of the Raleigh Consulting Group and a Uniting NC board member, believes that North Carolina must continue to welcome newcomers in order to succeed in the 21st century. He has said, "We're uniting to help revitalize declining communities through the contributions of immigrant families working in tandem with their native-born neighbors. We're working toward stronger communities with the ability to meet wide-ranging needs, enriching the social and cultural fabric of our society. And we're increasing our global competitiveness through a multi-lingual, multi-cultural workforce."
Uniting NC helps recent immigrants better integrate into their new communities and provides opportunities to share differences and similarities. This organization brings old and new immigrants together to interact in projects that give back to the community. On February 10th they harvested 1,500 pounds of fresh produce at Goodwill’s farm outside Durham, which was distributed to needy area families by the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina.These volunteers live in the Raleigh/Durham area. They learned more about one another as they worked. Some had lived their whole lives in North Carolina. Others were born in Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Iran, but have lived here for several years. The newest members were recent refugees from Cuba and Myanmar. They all agreed that interacting with one another and giving back to their community enriched their lives.
IFC Food Pantry
We will be collecting food and sundry items this Sunday for IFC. Following is a list of current needs:
Canned vegetables (hold off on corn for now)
Pasta and pasta sauce
Paper Bags with handles
Blankets, washed (cold months)
Personal Care Products:
toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss
razors and shaving cream
soap and shampoo
Space Heaters in good shape (cold months)
The economic recession has resulted in a loss of donations to this important social service agency, and it relies on organizations like ours to help its clients. Please contribute generously.
"Immigration: Shared Values and Experiences"
Culture plays a significant role in defining our identity and worldview. For newcomers, culture is the primary frame that shapes their interaction with other newcomers and with established residents in their new community. This interaction can occur anywhere and everywhere, such as the park, community center, school, and grocery store. However, such interaction will not likely happen or be meaningful without programs that intentionally bring people from different cultural backgrounds together. Please join us for a lively discussion of the role United NC plays in bringing local immigrants and the general public together in events that benefit the entire community.
"The Future of Immigration in NC and the US"
Dani Moore, Director, Immigrants' Rights Project
North Carolina Justice Center
As Director of the Immigrant' Rights Project, Dani organizes and conducts training events, helps empower community-based advocates and is the Justice Center's most visible voice and representative to North Carolina’s burgeoning immigrant population. Prior to coming to the Justice Center, Moore worked with progressive social change groups in North Carolina and Massachusetts, including work in the areas of literacy and popular education, immigrants' rights, economic justice and women's issues.
Everyone deserves fair treatment, regardless of race, ethnicity, or country of origin. Immigrants are often excluded from other programs that offer legal services to low-income people. They are more likely to become victims because they lack access to legal protections. This organization's primary goal is to ensure that low-income immigrants have the legal representation necessary to navigate the complex immigration system. The center provides free legal advice and representation to low-income immigrants involving legal status in North Carolina, unfair employment practices, public health assistance, motor vehicle licenses, illegal business practices, and landlord-tenant abuses. With its partners and allies, the center works to stop bills that would rob immigrants of their rights, increase racial profiling, and restrict access to public services.
"My Complicity in Our Culture of Violence"
Randy Best, Ethical Leader
We live in a morally flawed world. Our lives are complicated by what other people do, and by the harms that flow from our social, economic and political institutions. Our relations as individuals to these collective harms constitute the domain of complicity. We must examine the relationship between collective responsibility and individual guilt. It presents a rigorous philosophical account of the nature of our relations to the social groups in which we participate, and uses that account in a discussion of contemporary moral theory. Any real understanding of collective action not only allows but demands individual responsibility.
Grave harm can occur because of what large numbers of people do or fail to do. Individually people believe they do nothing to cause the harm and can do nothing to prevent it. Yet people collectively bring it about and could have averted it. If what I do makes no perceptible difference and any actions I take will have no effect on what we bring about then I can’t be held accountable so have no reason to attempt repair or prevention. The problem with this reasoning is the individual’s role in the collective agency disappears. Legally you cannot be charged as a complicitor without knowledge of a principal's criminal conduct or intent. Yet in the face of a grievous harm that is or can be perpetrated by a collective, failure to act by solipcistic individuals who believe they have no culpability is inherently unethical. Individuals are an intrinsic part of the collective agency. When their inaction contributes to a collective’s "public bad" they are morally complicit.
IFC Cook and Serve
Our scheduled cook and serve project is held on the fourth Thursday each month from 4:00 to 7:15 p.m. Contact Amy Piersma to
sign up. The food is donated from the community and anyone who
is hungry can eat. Our entire membership participates. It's great
fun and a worthy endeavor!
"Individual and Collective Complicity in Social Violence"
Our focus will be Randy Best’s paper, presented March 24th.
March 19, 12:30-1:45pm
"Poverty and Obligation"
Gene R. Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law
Director of the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity
Professor Nichol has presented several platforms to our society. The Tuesday afternoon Parr Center Lecture Series is open to the public, free of charge, and no registration is required (although space may be limited, so arrive before 12:30 for the best seating). The lecture is held in Gardner 8, Parr Center for Ethics, 207 Caldwell Hall, 240 East Cameron, Chapel Hill, NC. For details call (919) 843-5641 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some exciting new volunteer efforts are underway at Uniting NC. If you want to make your community more welcoming and united, here are some simple ways you can help–and meet new people in the process.
Schools Outreach: Will work to spread Uniting NC's message of welcome and respect for immigrants through schools. The group's first project is to set up language meet-ups between ESL students and native English speakers. If you want to be part of these meetups, or have connections with local schools, contact Uniting NC staffer Francisco Chavez, email@example.com.
Business Outreach: Will identify businesses that value diversity and ask them to join Uniting NC's Business Circle. If you want to help us build a network of businesses that support cultural diversity, or do other types of fundraising work, contact Uniting NC Board Member Ali Ghiassi, firstname.lastname@example.org.