Immigration: How do we balance compassion with the rule of law?

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President Trump is threatening to begin mass deportation roundups. While some Americans cheer these plans, others decry them as cruel and inhumane. This Saturday on The Roys Report, I’ll explore the immigration issue with both a Christian leader who believes illegal immigrants should be punished—and one who believes they should be given a pathway to citizenship. Don’t miss this important Roys Report. This Saturday morning at 11 on AM 1160 Hope for Your Life!

This Weeks Guests
David Iglesias Official Civilian Headshot

David Iglesias

Robert McFarland received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Pepperdine University School of Law.  Prior to joining the faculty of Faulkner University in 2004, Professor McFarland served as judicial clerk to the Honorable Edith H. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  He also practiced law in Texas and in Arizona as a member of Ekmark & Ekmark.  Professor McFarland teaches Torts, Remedies, and Federal Courts.

Robert McFarland

Robert McFarland received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Pepperdine University School of Law.  Prior to joining the faculty of Faulkner University in 2004, Professor McFarland served as judicial clerk to the Honorable Edith H. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and also practiced law in Texas and Arizona.  Professor McFarland presently teaches Foundations of Law and Federal Courts. He is the co-author of Foundations of Law (published by Carolina Academic Press) as well as other scholarly articles and essays.

Show Transcript

Note: This transcript has been slightly edited for continuity.

Segment 1

JULIE ROYS: Well, welcome to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University. I am Julie Roys. And today, we’re going to tackle one of the most contentious issues in our country—the issue of immigration. There are 11-million illegal immigrants already living in the United States. And according to news reports, President Trump is going to begin nationwide raids to arrest and deport thousands of undocumented families this weekend. What do you think of that? So you support that or do you oppose it?

In addition, there are 800-thousand illegal immigrants who have been shielded from deportation under DACA. That’s the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. These are people who were brought into the U.S. as children and have been granted work permits. But Trump did move to terminate DACA in 2017. And, though the federal courts have blocked Trump, the fate of those 800-thousand people protected by DACA is hanging in the balance.

There’s also the issue of migrants being held in detention centers and border patrol stations. Conditions in some of these detention areas are reported to be abysmal. And at least six migrant children have died in U.S. custody over the past eight months. 

But what’s the United States supposed to do? The Department of Homeland Security says it’s completely overwhelmed by the record number of migrants crossing the border each day.  Homeland Security has requested more than one-billion dollars to improve conditions for migrants. But many argue, there’s only so much one country can do.

So, what do you think? How does a country balance the needs of its citizens and the rule of law—with decency and compassion? Should the U.S. let in more refugees and asylum-seekers? Or, should it uphold DACA or should it repeal it? These are really difficult issues. And we’re going to be wrestling with them today.

And what about the 11-million illegal immigrants who are already here? Should we deport them—or should we give them a pathway to citizenship? Well Judson University student Carista Richie, she took to the streets this week. And she asked people that specific question about deportation or citizenship. Here’s what they said . . . 

MONTGE VOICE 1: It’s hard for me because there should be some kind of a rule about like, you know, if you’re being illegal, maybe send them off. But at the same time I kinda feel bad about it because they’re trying to provide what’s best for their family. So, all that is to say that I think if there’s a way to make them a citizen, then I’m all for that.

MONTGE VOICE 2: Every country in the world has a system to enter the country. And to just let people come in ahead of all those people, it’s not fair, it’s not just and it’s not responsible. And so that the people that come in illegally should be deported. And we shouldn’t encourage them to come. We should encourage them to get in line and go through the system. And then they can become a citizen.

MONTGE VOICE 3: I’m in favor of a path to citizenship if the border is closed, because they were given citizenship in the 1980’s, they promised to close the border, and they never did.

MONTGE VOICE 4: I am more leaning towards giving them a pathway toward citizenship.

CARISTA RITCHIE: How come?

MONTGE VOICE 4: I just feel like, to be closed off from the rest of the world, and like, to kind-of exclude people, it just isn’t right. And, like obviously, people are trying for safety a lot, so we should definitely find ways to let them be citizens, I believe.

MONTGE VOICE 5: I fully support deporting illegal immigrants. Because if somebody crosses the border illegally, then they broke the law. And therefore, it’s supposed to be deported to the country of origin. I’m strongly believe that there’re like a million different ways to become a citizen in a legal way. That’s why I have that kind of opinion and not others.

MONTGE VOICE 6: I’m inclined to the letter of the law. But I’m also inclined to mercy and common sense.

JULIE ROYS:  Well I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Since our show is recorded, I can’t take your calls. However, there’s always a lively discussion on Facebook about our topics each week. We’d love to have you be a part of that. Just go to facebook.com/ReachJulieRoys, and Roys is spelled R-O-Y-S. Or you can comment on Twitter by using my handle, @ReachJulieRoys.

Well, joining me today to discuss this issue are two very  distinguished guests with a wealth of background in the law. They’re also committed Christians, who have thought deeply about this topic from a Christian perspective. 

First, Robert McFarland is a law professor at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama. Robert also has served as a judicial clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He’s also the co-author of a law textbook called, “Foundations of Law.” So, Robert, welcome! It’s a pleasure to have you join us!

ROBERT McFARLAND: Thank you very much.

JULIE ROYS:  And also joining me is David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico under George W. Bush. As a prosecutor, he was responsible for over 11-thousand prosecutions, most of which were border related crimes. Iglesias also is retired from the U.S. Navy JAG Corps, and is the director of Wheaton College’s Center for Faith, Politics, and Economics. So, David thanks so much for taking the time! So glad you could join us!

DAVID IGLESIAS: You’re very welcome. 

JULIE ROYS:  And David, if I understand this correctly, you were born in Panama to tri-lingual and tri-cultural parents. Is that right?

DAVID IGLESIAS: Correct. My parents were missionaries. 

JULIE ROYS: Yeah. So tri-lingual—I’m guessing English, what, Spanish and . . .

DAVID IGLESIAS: Yes. And my father’s native language of KUNA.

JULIE ROYS: What is that?

DAVID IGLESIAS: It’s an indigenous language. My received his education in the U.S. and met my mother, who was a Wycliff Bible Translator, and then went back down to his people, where they were missionaries for many years. 

JULIE ROYS: Wow, that is so cool. How does that inform how you think about immigration?

 DAVID IGLESIAS: Well, I mean, if you take a poll of anyone, or people in a room, virtually everyone is an immigrant, if you go back far enough. Some are more recent immigrants. My father came to the U.S. in 1936. Became a U.S. citizen in the late 1960’s. On my mother’s side, her German forebears came in the 1830’s. So, you know, everybody is an immigrant except for a full-blooded native American person. And there aren’t that many of those folks, I’m afraid.

JULIE ROYS: Well, you’re right. Almost all of us are immigrants unless you’re native American. At some point we came into this country. And that’s the DNA of the United States, is a country of immigrants. And being welcoming, yet at the same time, we have these pressing issues. It’s really difficult. So, gentlemen, let me just start with kind of what’s pressing right now. And that’s this mass deportation roundups. Robert, why don’t I throw that to you first? Do you support these roundups that are going on of undocumented immigrants?

ROBERT McFARLAND: Well I certainly support the enforcement of law. And I think one of the ambiguities is what exactly is going to happen. I think the President has tweeted, of course, and created certain ambiguities. His administration seems to be saying that the round-ups will only be of those who have deportation orders. And I was struck by the comments of the mayor of your city, Chicago, on NPR just a couple of weeks ago. In an interview with Steve Inskeep, she said that she would support deportation of individuals if there are existing deportation orders. Now, she wasn’t supporting the rest of the President’s proposal. But when it comes to the topic of deportation itself, it seems that many would acknowledge that if an immigration court has issued final orders, then the rule of law demands that those orders be enforced.

JULIE ROYS: Hmm. Although I also read that there may be collateral round-ups. In other words, if they show up somewhere where they may be getting someone who’s illegal, who does have some sort of court order, they would get that person, but they might also arrest some others there who they might find out are illegal as well. Is that your understanding?

ROBERT McFARLAND: Well I certainly would support giving every individual due process of law and their right to a day, either before the immigration court, or in whatever regulatory proceedings are available to them. But I would support any effort to enforce existing laws. Or, and I’m sure we’ll discuss later, if that’s untenable, then we should talk about what’s available to Congress to change existing immigration law and the need for, perhaps, comprehensive immigration reform.

JULIE ROYS: David, we just have a little bit of time before we have to go to break. But what’s your initial feeling about these mass round-ups?

DAVID IGLESIAS: I urge extreme caution. The last time the United States Government did this it was 1955. It was called Operation Wetback. And over a million apparent Mexicans were deported. That included a large number of American citizens who did not have documentation at that time to prove they were American. I mean, yeah, that was a disaster. So, what the professor said is right. If there’s a court order, if know to a scientific certainty that that is the right person, they’ve been ordered to be deported, I have no problem with that. But my concern is if you get overly zealous and your deporting people who have not received the benefit of due process. So, I am very, very cautious about this.

JULIE ROYS: And the idea of collateral arrests—does that make you nervous?

DAVID IGLESIAS: Yeah, it does. I mean, I’ve been in federal law enforcement for many years and state law enforcement, military law enforcement. Look, there are a lot of great people, they do dangerous work, but sometimes mistakes are made. And, when you’ve got  somebody who’s  authorized to carry a gun, sometimes tragic results ensue. 

JULIE ROYS: Ok, well we need to go to break. That’s David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and director of the Center for Faith, Politics, and Economics at Wheaton College. Also joining me, Robert McFarland, law professor at Faulkner University. I’m Julie Roys. You’re listening to The Roys Report. We will be right back after a short break.

Segment 2

JULIE ROYS: Well how should Christians respond to the immigration crisis? Welcome back to The Roys Report. I’m Julie Roys. So, what do you think of Trump’s plan to do mass deportation roundups? Is that necessary to deal with the 11-million illegal immigrants in the U.S.? Or is it cruel and impractical? And what about the separation of families or rescinding DACA? Is that justified—or is it, as some would say, inhumane?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Today’s show is recorded. But you can join the live conversation on Twitter by using my handle @ReachJulieRoys and Roys is spelled R-O-Y-S. You also can join the live conversation on Facebook. Just go to facebook.com/Julie Roys.

Also, if you want to explore this issue further, there’s a great chapter on immigration in a new book called, Reforming American Politics: A Christian Perspective on Moving Past Conflict to Conversation. I know sometimes we’re afraid to discuss these issues, right? Because they can be so incredibly emotionally charged. Yet, there’s no way that we can really come together as a diverse community, and as a country, unless we learn how to do that. So, I’m actually offering this book, it’s by Harold Heie, a senior fellow at The Colossian Forum. I’m offering this as a giveaway this morning. And to enter that giveaway, just go to JulieRoys.com/giveaway and you can get a copy of Reforming American Politics.

Well again, joining me today to discuss immigration is David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico—and also Robert McFarland, a law professor at Faulkner University. 

And in the first segment we were talking about this whole idea of these mass deportation round-ups. But I guess through the whole – just a lot of what President Trump has been proposing. For example, he did rescind DACA, but then a judge stopped that from happening. But we also have this whole idea of separating young children, ending birth-right citizenship. What do you think of these things? Robert, why don’t I throw that to you first?

ROBERT McFARLAND: You know, one of the interesting things about the tone of our time is that sometimes the President’s rhetoric doesn’t match even the reality of his administration. According to The Wall Street Journal reporting and Axios reporting of June 21st this year, the actual number of deportations in the Trump administration are much fewer than in President Obama’s administration. The peak of deportations over the past ten years was in 2012 with four-hundred-and-nine thousand deportations, compared to about two-hundred-fifty-eight thousand last year. And so, I think one of the biggest changes of our time has to do not with the facts on the ground but with the rhetoric in the air. And that’s not something that I really enjoy or support. I think it’s important for Christians especially, to speak truthfully and with love. That requires us to think deeply about these issues and to walk alongside those who are facing these realities.

JULIE ROYS: And, well, some of that, I guess the President certainly, adds fuel to the fire, but we also have the press speaking in very polarized ways about these issues. Wouldn’t you agree?

ROBERT McFARLAND: I would certainly agree with that, and I don’t know if that’s the press creating a reality, or the press responding to a reality that’s emerged in our country – that we are much more polarized as people. I would like to still think that we are one nation.

JULIE ROYS: But, by and large, would you say you agree with Trump’s policy? 

ROBERT McFARLAND: I agree with the need for the President to execute the immigration laws as written. And one of my biggest concerns is that Congress seems to be absolved of its responsibility. The key entity of our government with responsibility for immigration is the U.S. Congress. And what the President is doing is exercising discretion given him by very broad laws, a complicated system of laws. But I think even David would agree that the President is exercising authority delegated to him by Congress.

JULIE ROYS: Well, let me throw it to David. What do you think? 

DAVID IGLESIAS: Yeah, I would agree with that. I was deeply disappointed during the George W. Bush administration when the Republicans – and I should tell you I’ve been a member of the party since the 1980’s. We had the White House, we had the Senate and we had the House, and we could not pass comprehensive immigration reform. So, who do you blame for that? What I think is fascinating now is the belief that we have a significant crisis. And I’m looking at CBP.gov–customs and border patrol dot gov numbers. Going back, and it’s entitled Nationwide Illegal Alien Apprehensions from 1925-2018 – the most current year was 2018 – four hundred thousand apprehensions. That pales in comparison with my first year as US Attorney, which is 2001, when we had 1.2 million. 

JULIE ROYS: Wow.

DAVID IGLESIAS: So, we had a much worse problem just in the past few years. The problems are significantly better. I think a lot of it is President Trump has made this a high value part of his messaging, and also you have these videos. You have these groups marching up from Honduras, which is absolutely the worst possible visual for them, because it looks like an armed invasion when in fact that is not the case.

ROBERT McFARLAND: David, I would follow up and say that I think all of that is correct. One other key difference on the ground is the political conditions in Central America really are creating a situation where a number of families are trying to escape a collapse of rule of law, in my view, in those countries, and the conditions that that creates. And so, I think the migrant crisis together with social media videos, as you were saying, have really created a new complexity at the Southern border. But I agree generally that the immigration issues that we’re facing now are not in some ways that much different from what we’ve been facing over the last twenty years.

JULIE ROYS: And we do have a record number of migrants coming in right now. And I think this is contributing to this perception. And I think it is these detention camps, not just in the U.S. but also in Mexico there’s camps set up – and from what I understand, they’re much worse in Mexico than they are in the United States. Yet you have these situations, where, you know, you have the father with his young daughter who died trying to cross the Rio Grande. I mean, when you have those kinds of things happening, it does, I mean, as an American, as a human being, I look at that and my heart breaks for them. And so, what do you do? I mean, when you want to, I mean, say we can’t take a flood of people coming in.  At the same time , you have a humanitarian crisis. What do you do with that, David?

DAVID IGLESIAS: Yeah, I think the answer goes to stabilizing the governments of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Because as Robert said, we’re getting fewer people, but the people we’re getting are much more desperate. Because when you hear anecdotes of parents given choices by criminal gangs saying, “Your child has two choices. Either be a prostitute or a drug courier.” I mean, what kind of a choice is that? And when the law enforcement in those countries can’t keep up with the massive amount of criminality, I think most responsible parents would flee also. But right now, our laws are such that you don’t qualify for asylum for criminal conditions. It has to be something else, either political persecution or religious beliefs. So, for us to legally admit a lot of these people, our laws need to be changed. And as Robert stated correctly, that’s not something the President can do sua sponte. That’s something that Congress does, and Congress is dragging its feet.

JULIE ROYS: Hmm . And why is that? Why won’t Congress do anything when it comes to this issue? Robert?

ROBERT McFARLAND: I think Congress has grown accustomed to avoiding its responsibility, not just for immigration but for a number of issues. Some of that probably has to do with the times we live in, with the polarization of – especially the use of primaries to polarize communities. I see that in my own state. But it’s easier for Congress simply to shift blame. And I agree with David, this happened even when the Republicans controlled Congress and the Presidency. During the time when President Bush I believe was showing leadership on immigration reform, an issue that was important to him, it went off the rails in Congress. And yet blame is shifted to the White House. And so, I just think this is a dynamic that’s troubling in our own country. 

JULIE ROYS: So, David, you mentioned changing the laws so that people who are facing criminal conditions can actually gain asylum. Are you in favor, then, of actually exceeding, or making the number greater, of asylum seekers that can come into the country? 

DAVID IGLESIAS: Well, I mean, I think you have to put a cap. I mean, we can’t admit everybody who wants to be admitted. But certainly, if there’s credible, provable evidence that this family is fleeing criminal activity, I think that should be added to the list of things you can get, be granted as final status. But, you know, that’s a Band-Aid. The long-term solution is stabilizing those three countries, just like we stabilized Columbia. It took billions of dollars to do it, but Columbia is a prosperous nation now. But it took billions of U.S. dollars, and thousands of Americans assisting Columbia and re-establishing the rule of law.

JULIE ROYS: Well, you’re listening to The Roys Report. I’m Julie Roys. Joining me today, David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. Also, Robert McFarland, law professor at Faulkner University. We will be right back, after a short break. 

Segment 3

JULIE ROYS: Well welcome back to The Roys Report, brought to you in part by Judson University. I’m Julie Roys. And today we’re exploring the issue of immigration—one of the most contentious issues facing our nation today. Certainly, our hearts go out to families fleeing dangerous and impoverished conditions in their homeland. But with record numbers of migrants streaming into the U.S., can we continue to let them in, at least in large numbers?

And what about the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S.? Can we be a nation of laws and fail to enforce the law? At the same time, can we really support mass deportation roundups? What is the solution? 

These are difficult questions. They don’t have easy answers. And I’d love to hear what you think on this issue. You can join the live conversation on Twitter by using the handle @ReachJulie Roys and Roys is spelled R-O-Y-S. You also can join the live conversation on Facebook by going to facebook.com/Julie Roys. 

Also, if you want to explore this issue further, there’s a great chapter on immigration in a new book called, Reforming American Politics: A Christian Perspective on Moving Past Conflict to Conversation, by Harold Heie. I’m giving away three copies of this book this morning. And if you’d like to enter to win one of those copies, just go to JulieRoys.com/giveaway. Well, joining me today to discuss immigration is David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico—and Robert McFarland, a law professor at Faulkner University. And gentlemen, I saw a Pew Research Center poll that asked the question, “Does the U.S. have a responsibility to accept refuges? Do you agree or not agree?” Interestingly, among Black Protestants, 63% said that the U.S. does have a responsibility to accept refugees. Religiously unaffiliated, 65% said the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees. Catholics, 50% said that the U.S. has a responsibility. White mainline Protestants, 43%. But, by far, the lowest group as far as saying that the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees is White Evangelicals. Only 25% says that the U.S. does have a responsibility. 68% says the U.S. does not have a responsibility.  And I think a lot of people would look at that and they’d say, “See, white Evangelicals have no heart.” And there may be some criticism there for white Evangelicals. And I happen to be one, so I feel like I can say that. But at the same time, I think there’s this underlying idea of, “what is justice?” Because I think that when you say, “justice,” to different groups of people it means different things. And I do think that our idea of justice lays this foundation. I mean, we’ve been talking about these above the waterline issues, which are, “what do we do with illegal immigrants? What do we do with the migrants? What do we think about mass deportations?” But I think below the waterline, really the foundation of all of this what our view of justice is. So, let me throw that to you, David. When I say, “justice,” what does that mean to you as a Christian and as an American?

DAVID IGLESIAS: Right. So I look to scripture. I look to Micah 6:8, which says, “what does the Lord require of you?” “To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” So mercy is a really big component.  You know, we’re all in a country that has tens of thousands of laws. We believe in a rule of law. We don’t believe in chaos. We believe what Romans 13 says about obeying the government. But it’s got to be tempered with mercy. We can’t prosecute our way out of this terrible situation. And I think Christians really need to focus on the mercy aspect and not just the law aspect.

JULIE ROYS: Ok, Robert, what do you think of that?

ROBERT McFARLAND: You know in my thinking on this issue I think back to a Christian leader in the city in which I teach, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a sermon that he delivered here in August of 1959 entitled, “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.” In it he says to his parishioners that, “the shape of today does not permit us the luxury of soft-mindedness.” And the next sentence has always struck me. “A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men, purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.” And much of what he was talking about in this sermon was the need to uphold civil rights and to pursue justice while at the same time create that synthesis with the rule of law and the right reason. And King, of course, explored this later from a Birmingham prison cell in which he’s writing a letter to Christians about upholding the law by acts of civil disobedience and being willing to accept the penalty for the disobedience to awaken moral consciousness. I’ve said a lot there. And he’s saying a lot. But the reason I want to put that on air is because I think there’s a tendency among some to say out of one side of their mouth, “Yeah, I support deportation and the rule of law if a judge says that, ‘here’s your final order.’” And at the same time say, “Well, the United States of America is heaven on earth, and so justice demands that we let everyone in.” And so, it’s actually in this tension, in figuring out what is justice requiring of us? And I think when you think deeply about this issue, many of the migrants fleeing Central America, for example, are separating themselves from extended family because of conditions in their own country. And I think it’s a little naïve to think that what they really want deep in their heart is to live in the shadows in the United States. That’s not what they want. They, it seems to me, would want to live lives of meaning in their own homeland. And so, if we really want to walk alongside them, we need to think deeply about how to address conditions in their own countries. And work with them, rather than just thinking the solution is opening our own borders.

JULIE ROYS: It’s interesting you use this term, well actually Martin Luther [King Jr.] used the term “soft minded.” Sometimes I think when we approach this, we don’t use our minds at all. We’re just led by soundbites, by rhetoric, by a lot of emotional pictures that we see, and images. But what does it mean to really not be soft-minded but to actually engage both our heart and our mind on this issue? David?

ROBERT McFARLAND: I completely agree with you. What I mean by that is, the first step for Christians, and I know David’s work, and he’s doing this, but the first step for us is to think about this issue by, for example, informing ourselves about the nature of asylum laws in the United States, the means of applying for asylum, for example. And if we as Christians are unsatisfied with that, demand legislative change. We have the ability to do that.

JULIE ROYS: Yeah. David, what do you think?

DAVID IGLESIAS: Well, I mean, we have to be sober minded. We have to think about, “what’s causing all of this?” The long-term solution isn’t just to let everybody in. We just can’t do that. But it’s to create a situation in those three countries that are putting up so many desperate people, so they want to stay in their homes. They don’t want to move, to walk one-thousand miles to the southwestern border. You know, if we’re really serious about extending mercy, then we help rebuild those countries. We help get rid of those gangs, of gang-bangers that were deported from the United States. You know, we help fix a problem that we created.

JULIE ROYS: Alright. We need to go to break, but when we come back, I want to talk about, we’ve been talking a lot about the migrants coming in. But what about 11 million illegal immigrants that are here in the United States. What’s the best way to deal with that situation? Again, you’re listening to The Roys Report. I’m Julie Roys. Joining me today is Robert McFarland, a law professor at Faulkner University and David Iglesias at Wheaton College. We’ll be right back. 

Segment 4

JULIE ROYS: Well, how do we balance rule of law with compassion when it comes to immigration? Welcome back to The Roys Report. I’m Julie Roys. And today we’re discussing immigration. And in particular, we’re exploring how Christians should respond to this difficult, but incredibly important issue. 

We’ll return to that discussion in a minute, but I want to let you know that next week, we’ll be discussing another hot-button issue. We’re going to be exploring whether sexual redemption and change is possible for LGBT persons. Joining me will be the founders of the Freedom March. This is a growing movement of ex-gay and ex-trans people who say deliverance from LGBTQ lifestyles is possible—and they’re living proof! Joining me will be the founder of the Freedom March and two people who actually survived the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. It’s going to be an awesome show. And it will be live, so I hope you’ll be able to listen and perhaps call in next week, again, on The Roys Report!

Well returning to our discussion today on immigration, again, joining me are Robert McFarland, law professor at Faulkner University—and David Iglesias, former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico. And, gentlemen, I said before the break that I wanted to talk about a solution for the 11 million illegal immigrants, or undocumented people who are here in the US right now. A lot of solutions being offered, but it seems like we can’t get Congress to agree on any of them. But let me throw this to you, David. What do you think is the best thing to do with the eleven million people who are already here? And, sure, we’ve got some deportations going on maybe this weekend, this week, but 11 million? Are we going to deport 11 million people? I don’t think that’s going to happen. 

DAVID IGLESIAS: Yeah – it’s simply not possible. You know, the ICE doesn’t have enough man-power, for one thing. And secondly, do we want to live in a country where there are check-points everywhere, where there are raids in our places of work. I mean, you know, nobody wants to live in an Eastern bloc kind of country, what used to be called Eastern bloc, I should say. So, I mean, I really like what McCain put forward when he was alive. This is about ten years ago, and he and other Senators, bi-partisan as I recall, said there should be self-reporting. There should be a fine involved. And as long as they stay out of trouble, they get to stay here legally and work. It does not give them citizenship, because that should be reserved for the people that did it right. But it does get them out of the shadows, it increases our tax-base, and it allows them to use social services. So, that has to be one thing that Congress, when it gets around to it, should consider. 

JULIE ROYS: Robert, what do you think of that?

ROBERT McFARLAND: Well, two things. First of all, the 11 million number, I think, looking more carefully at that number, by some estimates as much as 80% of that number are people who are here on expired visas. And so, they’ve already put themselves in the process at some point, and they have just stayed beyond the time limit of their visas. Looking at solutions to the group as a whole, I think one concern that many have when you’re looking at what to do, is if you create a pathway to citizenship for that group that ignores the fact that they have not followed existing law, are you inviting more what is called illegal immigration in the future? Are you inviting, in other words, more to cross the border in hopes that another adjustment will be made down the road because we’re stuck in another situation where we have millions of new immigrants who have not followed the legal requirements? Everyone I’ve heard talking about a pathway to citizenship say that they don’t want to create that situation, and many who support a pathway, are talking about wanting to do it in conjunction with closing the Southern border. And I’m not really sure how you do that effectively.

JULIE ROYS: How you close the border? 

ROBERT McFARLAND: So, in other words, many of the proposals for a pathway to citizenship for those already here, the compromise put forward is just we’ll shut down the Southern border of the United States completely, and tightly secure it. And, of course, the President’s proposal is to build a wall, but many critics of that proposal have said it’s impossible to close a border effectively, even with a wall. And so, my point is, I think that as we look into the future, anything we do now for this group of people, we’re going to have problems in the future with a new group of people who are here illegally. And so, thinking carefully about how we’re going to deal with this issue long-term, I think, is one of the reasons why I would like to see Congress address this comprehensively. 

JULIE ROYS: But you, you’re not for a pathway to citizenship, but are you for some sort of way of helping them come out of the shadows, maybe getting a fine? 

ROBERT McFARLAND: I believe there already is a pathway to citizenship. There is a way to apply for U.S. citizenship. And in fact, over eight hundred thousand people right now are in that line. They have already applied, and they are waiting on immigration courts to handle their application. And so, I don’t see it to be just to put these  11 million ahead of those who have already invested themselves in applying for the visa, getting their green card, standing in line for two years, or meeting any of the conditions for citizenship that currently exist. 

JULIE ROYS: But what do you propose then with the 11 million, or however large that number is? Do you think we should just deport them? 

ROBERT McFARLAND: I think that they’re here in violation of the law, and unless the law is changed, the remedy that exists on the books is either deportation or a fine. There is some discretion there for the President. Or change the law. What I cannot be in support of is just saying, “Oh, well, let’s just ignore that group of people.” 

JULIE ROYS: What do you think of that, David? 

DAVID IGLESIAS: Well, I mean, the thought of deporting 11 million people is a.) impossible and b.) even if we could do that, it would crater certain industries in this country. The ag industry would crater, the construction industry would crater, a lot of the food service industry would crater. Meat processing, chicken processing. We simply need the manpower. But we’ve got to get people here who are here for a set amount of time, and we know who they are, we know what their status is, and at the end of their job, they go home. Similar to the work project plan that we had in Mexico in the 1940’s and 50’s. I’m not sure why that program ever ended, but we need to bring something like that back. 

ROBERT McFARLAND: And so all I’m saying is, if we’re going to do something like that, then let’s empower these individuals to acquire work visas and be here legally so they don’t have to be in the shadows, and they don’t have to fear the penalties that are currently on the books.

JULIE ROYS: Well, it does seem to me we have to do something. I read a story last night, and it did just break my heart. It was about these women who are working, picking vegetables and watermelons, different things, and they’re making three dollars an hour, way below minimum wage, right, because they’re undocumented, they can get away with that. And they’re in danger. Often their supervisors look to them as prey because they know they don’t have much recourse under the law. So, a lot of these women are assaulted, they’re raped. They don’t report it. I mean, what’s happening, it’s just awful. And it happening within our country. I mean, there’s gotta be a way to deal with that. And David, it seems to me, it needs to happen quickly, doesn’t it?

DAVID IGLESIAS: Yeah, I mean we have to create a legal work status that doesn’t lead to citizenship. I mean, a lot of these migrant workers just want to come out here, work, send money home, and then go home. We need to encourage that, you know. I just came back from Singapore, and they have a fascinating system. When you enter as a foreign national, you have to tell them when you’re going back. You have to show evidence of when you’re going to go back in the way of a return ticket. Otherwise, they won’t let you in. Why can’t we do something like that? 

JULIE ROYS: Well, and that’s interesting because when we think of – like you mentioned, Robert – we think of illegals, we’re not thinking necessarily of expired visas. And yet I did read that the greatest number of expired visas – we’re not talking Mexican immigrants, we’re talking Asian immigrants have these expired visas – and yeah, they’re overstaying their welcome, David. 

 DAVID IGLESIAS: Right, and also, we need to penalize American employers who knowingly hire people who are illegal. You know, we’ve been talking about the immigrant. We’ve not been talking about the American employers who are benefitting from the status and taking advantage of it. We need to take gloves off and prosecute some of them. 

JULIE ROYS: We don’t have a lot of time, but there’s one other issue I do want to get to because I know it’s one that a lot of people feel strongly about. And that’s this whole issue of separating young children from their parents. And this is one that the press has exploited, let’s admit that. But, at the same time, as Christians, as people who care about families, that’s pretty tough. Robert, what do you think about that issue?

ROBERT McFARLAND: Well, I agree that it’s tough, and I agree that we should foster keeping families together, if at all possible. I’ll say again that the laws on the books – unlawful entry, unless you’re claiming amnesty, allows the government to prosecute you for a misdemeanor and imprison you for up to six months. And I think what’s happening is that that law’s being used, you know, when parents are convicted of a crime or put in the port system, they can be separated from their children whether you’re an immigrant or not. So we need to include this issue in looking at the issue of immigration reform at the legislative level. 

JULIE ROYS: But would you be in favor – I mean, if the law says families should be separated, children should be separated – to do it? 

ROBERT McFARLAND: The law doesn’t say that. The law— 

JULIE ROYS: Right.

ROBERT McFARLAND: When a parent is sent to prison for violating a federal law, whether you’re an immigrant or not, you’re separated from your children. And that’s a consequence of committing a crime. Right now, this status, if you enter unlawfully, it’s a misdemeanor. And if you re-enter, it’s a felony. And so, it’s the nature of the offence itself that’s causing the separation. And I’ll go back to my earlier comment. I think the President has, in some ways, weaponized this issue with his rhetoric. And, you know, our moral consciousness as a nation has responded. We, I’ve been heartened to see that we do not support dividing families up, as a people. 

JULIE ROYS: But it’s tough. It’s tough when you’ve got a parent who’s not here legally. The child is, maybe, and do we send them back? David, let me throw it to you.

DAVID IGLESIAS: Well, what’s even tougher is when you have children who were born in the U.S., and their parents get sent home. So, what do you do with a child, because they’re a U.S. national? I guess they can go back with their family, but they don’t lose their citizenship. You know, what Robert said is true. Crime has consequences. And one of those consequences is being separated from your family. I think the U.S. needs to work very closely with doing public service ads in Mexico and Central America and tell them exactly what to expect if they enter the U.S. illegally because there’s so much misinformation. So, just blitz the airwaves and internet and TV with “this is what will happen to you.” 

JULIE ROYS: Hmm. And what do you think of the wall? Good idea? Bad idea? We just have a short amount of time, but I’m curious.


DAVID IGLESIAS: Well, I mean, the law I think is a very practical one. We can’t keep kids imprisoned. We have to create a penalty. It is what it is.

JULIE ROYS: It is what it is. So, you’re in favor of a wall. What about you, Robert.

DAVID IGLESIAS: I’m sorry there, I thought you said “the law.” 

JULIE ROYS: A wall.

DAVID IGLESIAS: A wall would be a colossal waste of money. You build a ten-foot wall, and somebody would find an eleven-foot ladder. It simply won’t work.

JULIE ROYS: Alright. Robert, what do you think? 

ROBERT McFARLAND: Well, many of the smuggling routes that are already existing are tunnels underneath existing fences. And so, I think that’s a very practical question that needs some attention. I think the bigger question is how do we secure the Southern border? And interestingly, Canada’s asking this question regarding its Southern border. You can read about that if you just do some research on the rise of deportations in Canada, that are already occurring.

JULIE ROYS: Well, I’m going to have to wrap this up, and I’m sorry. We could talk about this much, much longer. But I do think Scripture is clear that we are to welcome foreigners.  In fact, in Leviticus, God says to the Israelites: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. (He) shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself . . .”  So, as Christians, should we welcome immigrants? Well, sure, but in Leviticus God is talking about foreigners legitimately living among the Israelites.  So, I think there’s an issue of legitimacy. 

That’s my view. If you’d like to share yours, I encourage you to go to my website Julieroys.com. There, you’ll find audio of this radio show as well. 

Hope you have a great weekend and God bless!  

 

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