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Conservatives vs. conservatives

"Conservatives vs. conservatives" Continued...

Cruz and Rubio are not the only conservatives pitted against one another in the immigration debate.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential candidate, entered the immigration fight Monday with a trip to Chicago with Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat. Ryan  visited the Erie Neighborhood House, which assists low income Latino families. He chided lawmakers for making a “knee-jerk assessment” about the Boston bombings and their connection to the immigration bill.

“If anything, I would say this is an argument for modernizing our immigration laws,” Ryan said. “We need it for national security; we need it for our economy.”

Ryan, known as a congressional budget guru, also rebuffed the argument by Republican opponents that the bill’s legalization of undocumented immigrants would have a negative impact on the nation’s volatile job market. He argued that immigrants “produce faster economic growth.”

“Businesses from immigrants generate about $775 billion in annual tax revenues,” Ryan said. “If you look at this issue in its totality, immigration is a net positive contributor to the economy.” One person in the crowd waved a banner that read, “Gracias Ryan.”

The conflict among conservatives over the merits of the bill has even featured a debate over interpreting Scripture.

David Fleming, a pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, testified at Monday’s Senate hearing, where he said his pastoral duties have taught him that the current immigration system is painfully slow, inefficient, and often unfair. While acknowledging the tension between those who want to open the borders with little regard for the rule of law and those who want mass deportation with little regard for human dignity, Fleming called the current bill an “excellent starting point” for bipartisan discussion. 

“We’ve got to keep the humanity of those involved very much in the front of our minds,” Fleming said.

The pastor then quoted from parts of Leviticus 19: “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born.”

But Sessions, the Republican senator from Alabama who opposes the bill, countered Fleming with another Bible passage, citing Numbers 20. In that chapter, Moses asks the king of Edom for permission to pass through his country. When the king refused the request, the Israelites respected the ruling and turned away.

“I don’t believe that there’s scriptural basis for the idea that a modern nation state can’t have a lawful system of immigration and is somehow prohibited from enforcing legitimate laws,” Sessions told Fleming.

Edward Lee Pitts
Edward Lee Pitts

Lee teaches journalism at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and is the associate dean of the World Journalism Institute.


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