Legalizing “Acts of Love”

Statue of Liberty seen from the Circle Line ferry, Manhattan, New York


For several decades now, the issue of immigration reform has surfaced regularly. When it comes up, typically, it does so as a fiery controversy. But, in spite of all the attention the matter has received, there has been little progress towards settling it. One might say that, with this topic, there has been much heat and little light.

Former Governor and potential presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, set off another round of  heated  public debate on this topic with comments he made at a recent event, held at his father’s Presidential Library. On that occasion, he said:

“The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families — the dad who loved their children — was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table. And they wanted to make sure their family was intact, and they crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.”

Conservatives, who want to see a fully secured border prior to any implementation of broader immigration reform, were quick in their response to Bush’s comments. Leading the way was Senator and potential presidential candidate, Rand Paul. In his response, Senator Paul said:

“I think it wasn’t the most artful way of saying something, but I think he was well-intentioned. If I were to make the same point, I would say that people who seek the American dream are not bad people, but that doesn’t mean you can invite the whole world to come.But I think [Bush’s critics question], if love is the criteria, what does that mean? [Does that mean] everybody who’s got some love for their relatives can come? You know, the whole world loves America, and they can’t all come. It is important to have a healthy respect for immigrants when engaging in the debate over immigration policy.They come to this country and they’re not bad people. But we have to start with the first part then that the border can’t be open, and everything that’s offered to American citizens can’t just be offered to the world. We have this enormous welfare state that we can’t pay for on our own, so we can’t invite the world to be on it.”


I agree with Senator Paul, that Governor Bush’s comments were well-intentioned. And, whether or not it was an “artful way” of expressing his sentiments, I’d like to see that sort of caring as an obvious part of a whole solution for immigration reform. It’s been about 35 years since I first traveled from where I lived in Southern California, to visit Baja California and I still vividly recall seeing communities of homes constructed from appliance boxes and other similar materials lining the Mexican side of the U.S./Mexico border. My immediate thought, at that time, remains yet today … “If those were my circumstances, I’d be doing whatever it takes to get across that border.”

Although both Bush and Paul spoke kindly of immigrants, neither of them offered practical solutions for the immigration challenges the U.S. has been facing for the past several decades. In Paul’s case, he mostly talked about what we can’t do. However, in replying to his critics, I think Bush pointed the conversation in a more productive direction when he said,

“To be young and dynamic again we have to be young and dynamic again. [People need to view] immigration reform not as a problem, but as a huge opportunity.”

Though I, generally, agree with that, I think that Bush may have gone from what “wasn’t the most artful way of saying something” to saying it in a way that is too “artful”. I’d put it more simply by saying, “On this issue, we need to move from the ‘can’t-do attitude’ of people like Rand Paul to a ‘can-do attitude’ that incorporates the caring demonstrated by Bush.”


With that said, I’d start with the immigration reform agenda item that Paul expressed as his priority … fully securing the border. Without that done, attempting to address what to do about the current illegal immigrant population and what reforms are appropriate for immigration going forward both seem futile.

Once we are on a sure footing, moving towards secure borders, I’d tackle determining what reforms are appropriate for immigration going forward. In doing this, I’d take advantage of what we know about our current illegal immigrant population. Although we may not have details on every individual in this group, we do have some sense of their demographics – i.e. What countries they come from by volume, their respective skill levels, their respective acceptable income levels, etc. That data could easily be used to augment our current immigration policies, to provide a legal path for those whose demographics map to our current population of illegal immigrants. My logic here is that though this group of immigrants did violate our immigration laws, doing so as what Governor Bush calls an act of love also means that, by and large, they strive to be productive members of our community.

Finally, I’d turn my attention to what we do about our current illegal immigrant population. I think solving this aspect of immigration reform becomes much easier, if we can be successful with the first two steps outlined above. I know that there are those who scream “Amnesty!” about any solution that doesn’t punish illegal immigrants in some way. In part, this comes from the sense that it’s a slap in the face to those who immigrated legally, if there is no penalty for those who immigrated illegally. Although I sympathize with that view, I see this as  a cutting off our nose to spite our face approach. I think everyone involved is far better off, if we just have the current population of illegal immigrants join the line of those applying for immigration under the reformed policies described above and doing so as though they just arrived today. As far as any hard feelings this might cause with those who followed the rules of our present immigration policies, I think they should be satisfied with our pointing out that, while illegal immigrants have been living in the shadows, they have been out in the open, enjoying the full benefits of their legal status.


Considering the fiery controversy that typically rages when the issue of immigration reform comes up, I won’t be surprised if critics attempt to shoot holes in the ideas I’ve presented here. But, it seems to me that these are ideas with some appeal for all the major factions in the debate. Additionally, it has the sort of caring for what Governor Bush calls an “act of love”, as an obvious part of a whole solution for immigration reform. And, it’s the sort of caring we showed when, as Governor Bush said, we were “young and dynamic” … The sort of caring indicated  by the inscription on a most-famous 128 year old symbol of our nation that says:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,

Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.


Filed under America’s founding ideals, immigration reform

6 Responses to Legalizing “Acts of Love”

  1. Al

    Oh, how I wish the immigration issue were that simple. The truth is our jails are loaded with illegal immigrants who are not people of good will. They have no intention of doing an honest day’s work, they come from a culture that always pays with cash to avoid taxes and obligations to all government levels.

    They dishonor those immigrant applicants who went through the legal process to become an American citizen by being patient and working hard with a green card (my son-in-law from Chile is one who became an American legally.)

    We are going broke on borrowed money paying benefits to people who never paid one cent into the funds they are drawing from to get their votes. This isn’t about liberal love, it’s about getting voters and cheap labor from many illegal people (they are only “immigrants” if they want to work to stay in America.)

    Love also means we care enough to confront and stop the cartel gangs, terrorists, hard core criminals, militants to take back California for Mexico, and extreme political dissidents at the border before they complete their missions against our Republic and its legal citizens.

    The 9/11/2001 attacks were conducted by domestic/international terrorists and inept immigration laws. I have no problem with people of good will who have families that will honestly contribute to our society, but I have a real problem with the drug cartels and evil people that cross the border every year to assault (literally) legal Americans and our invited guests.

    Canada has fairly open borders with some international trafficking issues (especially with some immigrant military spies from Asia.) Mexico has human trafficking that capitalizes on and persecutes the poor families while tolerating the evil of the highly-militarized cartels that have penetrated and manipulated the Mexican Government and many provinces in Mexico. Show me where Canada offers the same evil threats of corruption, theft, persecution, and murder on a grand scale like the US-Mexican border produces.

    I have been to both Central and South America. They are totally different cultures than the United States or Canada. There are good people in Mexico. However, their country is a dangerous place to visit and live in many areas where the cartel gangs rule (like the American “roaring twenties” on steroids).

    All of my comments are based on well-documented drug and vice cartel operations in the United States and abroad. I wish the world were composed of little immigrant families just trying to make an honest living in a free western society, but it’s not that simple. Some of the evil illegals will repent and find God, while many others will choose the path of evil deeds and death on a loving society. We are becoming a society who has reasonable and just laws that we refuse to honor and enforce in the name of political correctness and promotion of money and vices of the flesh. These reasons do not originate from Christian love, but the federal government falls idols. Churches have always supported honest and hard working immigrants without much federal intervention. All of that Christian American “good will” is being challenged and is changing. Seek not the folly of humanists in government, but seek the will of God. The truth shall come to light. All people who are part of I AM automatically receive the love of God that no earthly government or leaders can offer. All we need is faith in God to support immigrants of good will; their (immigrant) faith, honesty, and contributions to others will shine like jewels in the sun.

    Sorry if I sound bitter, but I’ve met evil ones in several countries on this earth and I am well-educated in the cartels, terrorism, law enforcement’s charter, strategic military defense of our free Republic, and homeland security (or what’s left of it in the USA.)

    The opposite of love is fear. Christ’s love gives us His peace, but we must be vigilant to protect our families and loved ones from the evil that dwells and travels over our earthly home until He returns. God will reveal who is good and evil that enter our country. Good immigrants will stay the course and become legal citizens if they wish to do so. Evil people should be deported and blocked from re-entering our society to perform their evil deeds.

    • Al, your comments are longer than my articles. You should start your own blog. Seriously, I appreciate your comments. In this case, I think the illegals who you point to as not being well-intentioned fall way outside Bush’s description of those who came here as an act of love for their family.

  2. Al

    I should have typed “…federal government false idols” instead of “falls idols”. Sorry for the typos in my comments. 🙂

  3. Mike Barnes


    Thanks for the article.
    While I enjoyed reading it, I have a problem agreeing with it.
    We’re a country of 310 million people in a world of 6 billion people……roughly 5% of the world’s population. Of our 310 million, about 300 million are of working age and only 50% of the wage earners are paying federal taxes. That means we have about 1.5% of the world population paying taxes into a financial system that is already $120 trillion in debt and growing daily. We can’t take care of our own, let alone the poor of other countries. At what point to we say ‘enough’, close the borders, cut off social programs to illegal aliens and take care of our own?
    While it’s admirable to be socially conscious, its not sustainable. We can close the doors and take care of our citizens, or we can leave them open and collapse as a country and a society.


    • Thanks for your comments, Mike. All good points but I’d prefer to see us be proactive with this. Isolationism doesn’t seem like the right solution and neither does the impotence of our ongoing deadlock.

  4. Al

    Here is a very well-written letter to Congress from a California gentleman that I think addresses the subject quite well as related to Mike and my comments above:

    Short enough for you? (Just jesting, Gary). Thanks for posting this topic, it’s one of my favorites and a definite conservative “hot button” topic.