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Barton GingerichDecember 5, 2011
Jerry Campbell, President of United Methodist Claremont School of Theology in California, recently blogged for the much-contested DREAM Act that offers legalization to some illegal aliens. Claremont, which recently became “interfaith” and now trains Islamic imams, as well as clergy of other religions, is one of United Methodism’s most liberal schools. But Campbell is similar to other United Methodist officials backing liberalized immigration policies.
The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act was first introduced in 2001 to the U.S. Senate and has been reconsidered several times over the years but has always failed to attain passage. This bill would entitle a conditional permanent residency to certain illegal aliens who graduate from US high schools. It aims to benefit illegal aliens who were brought into the U.S. when they were minors. The DREAM policy would grant sufficient time for these students (generally on the cusp of high school graduation) to either finish a college degree or a stint in the military. Congress has debated the proposed act for nearly a decade. Detractors believe that the DREAM bill would reward illegal immigration and would unfairly give illegal aliens benefits reserved for citizens and legal immigrants. Still others worry about the expansive age limit of 35 years. Voices from the Religious Left, on the other hand, have announced that the DREAM Act represents one of the greatest civil rights issues today.
Apparently guilty over the European early settlement of America, Campbell argued: “The earliest European immigrants came without permission from the native residents because the country (or known parts of it) had been ‘claimed’ by some foreign imperial power, Great Britain being the most notable. Those early immigrants overwhelmed the native residents and stayed by virtue of superior weaponry.” In fact Spain possessed of much the land in early explorations of the Americas.
He continued to craft a slanted narrative to bolster his advocacy. “Technically they and their descendants (many of us) became ‘legal aliens’ in this land simply because they were powerful enough to assert it to be so. Eventually they created laws to regulate the arrival of other immigrants who, if they met certain criteria, could come under ‘legal’ circumstances.”
Campbell continued his comparison of ostensibly imperialist early settlers in America with more noble current illegal immigrants. “Given this ‘immigrant history’ of so many Americans, a terrible irony must be attached to the plight of a group of current day young immigrants called the ‘DREAMers,’” he bewailed. “Their parents (derisively referred to as ‘illegal aliens’) also brought them here in the desperate search for a better life, the same motivation as that of those first ‘illegal aliens’ who came from Europe. Like the earliest European illegal immigrants to America, there was and is no future for them in the countries from which they came. Brought in by their parents, those identified as DREAMers arrived when they were young, some only infants.”
Although Campbell condemned the early colonists for settling in America supposedly unlawfully, he was more than willing to give current illegal residents a free pass. He wrote, “The irony is that in spite of our own self-validated claim to ‘legality,’ we—immigrants or the ancestors of immigrants—will not grant them the right to stay ‘legally.’ As a result, their hopes for the future are increasingly desperate, an irony that should not occur or be tolerated by this nation of immigrants.”
Campbell observed: “Unlike the earliest European immigrants, however, the DREAMers do not have the power to make themselves legal. For that to happen, they need our help.” Campbell seems to advocate guaranteeing the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship automatically virtually to all who enter America’s borders. He wrote: “[The Constitution’s] preamble makes a profound and memorable assertion: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men (today this would read ‘persons’) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’” Even though Campbell was quoting the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution, he seems to assert that human equality demands an open borders policy.
Opposing lax bordersis anti-American, Campbell virtually argued. “[Support for] the DREAM Act is the American thing to do; it is the smart thing to do; and it is the humane thing to do,” he wrote. “Seldom do we have such a clear right choice.”
Some United Methodists are advocating that Claremont, primarily because of its new interfaith identity, should lose its status as a United Methodist seminary. Claremont receives about $1 million annually from The United Methodist Church. Its new interfaith program is funded by a much larger independent grant.
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