I am really glad that President Obama took action this week to protect, at least temporarily, some undocumented immigrants from deportation. Although they came here illegally, the people affected are otherwise following the laws, living in our community, often with their families, working hard at the hardest and lowest-paying jobs available. Many came to America with their parents when they were young children and know no other home.
Obama’s action was right from a progressive viewpoint: helping millions of vulnerable people who have been living in fear. However, I think it was also right from the standpoint of the most important values cherished by conservatives.
If we believe in family values, we shouldn’t unnecessarily traumatize children by separating them from their immigrant mothers or fathers. If we are opposed to abortion, we shouldn’t endanger promising young people’s lives by forcibly deporting them to places racked by extreme violence, poverty, and human trafficking. If we believe in enterprise and opportunity, we shouldn’t deport hardworking people who have proven themselves a valuable new part of America.
Having compassion toward immigrants today honors our own past. My own great-grandfather entered America legally, at a time when doing so was much easier than today, but I am not sure whether or not he had permission from his oppressive homeland to leave.
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Although scrupulously honest and devoutly religious, he might have immigrated illegally if necessary, to have a chance to succeed in life and support his family. I’m proud of his back-breaking work and devotion to his family.