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Reader: Cruelty will never end illegal immigration



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Paraphrasing a wise man, "If we do not address the causes and conditions that give rise to illegal immigration but only seek to stop each new manifestation of it, we will never uproot illegal immigration. Cruelty will never end illegal immigration."

Discovering the causes and conditions that give rise to illegal immigration entails getting to know the people who view illegal immigration as somehow better than their current situation. Honduras is a country that keeps popping up in reports on illegal immigration, so I'll start there. It turns out that Hondurans are primarily an agricultural people, laborers who put food such as fruit, sugar and coffee on American tables. For that, I find myself able to feel grateful to Hondurans. But for all their labor (roughly 6.5 percent unemployment), most Hondurans live in poverty — over 66 percent of them are poor by international standards. That leaves me feeling uncomfortable — a people that labors to put food on American tables should be better off than that. I find it easy to empathize with the Honduran laborer's desire for a better life.

So in this case at least, resolving our illegal immigration issue entails improving the standard of living of a people that we rely on for some of the food on our table. The degree to which that places a responsibility on us to assist in this process may be debatable; but at a minimum, I would suggest we can acknowledge and honor their contribution to our own standard of living by offering them a little more empathy and dignity.

— Paul Hanke, Colorado Springs

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