Jim Wallis has a low opinion of his supporters (Sojourners, immigration reform)

If you're a follower of Jim Wallis of Sojourners, I have some bad news: he has a very low opinion of you. In a post at Time Magazine [1], he writes false and misleading statements that would make a used car salesman blush. And, apparently he thinks his supporters aren't going to pick up on how he's misleading them.

First, there's the title: "An Evangelical’s Plea With the GOP on Immigration Reform: Put People Before Politics / Republicans have a chance to forgo dysfucntion and show their compassion". The title itself is an example of false compassion. As detailed at the link, the immigration policies of those like Wallis leads to an increase in border deaths and other negative impacts. Those like Wallis aren't compassionate: their policies will make things worse. The "people before politics" part is also misleading, as will be detailed below.

After discussing the GOP coming out with and then backing away from their "Standards for Immigration Reform", Wallis writes:

[Republicans] claim to not trust President Obama or his willingness to enforce immigration laws, despite the fact that his administration has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other. They are perilously close to letting their strong dislike for the President blind them to the realities of human suffering perpetuated by an immigration system that no longer meets the needs of our nation.

1. As Barack Obama himself admitted [2]:

The statistics are actually a little deceptive because what we've been doing is, with the stronger border enforcement, we've been apprehending folks at the borders and sending them back. That is counted as a deportation, even though they may have only been held for a day or 48 hours, sent back – that's counted as a deportation.

The Obama administration changed what the deportation statistics mean, so comparing the Obama administration's statistics to those of past presidents is like comparing different varieties of apples while not revealing you're talking about different varieties. Wallis doesn't think you'll know about the Obama administration changing how deportations are recorded, but now you do.

2. Since the Obama administration - like the George W Bush administration - has taken steps to encourage illegal immigration and to look like they're enforcing the law while not actually stringently enforcing the law, GOP fears are highly justified. See the many entries on the immigration enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and John Morton pages.

3. Exactly what "suffering" is involved? Imagine that you paid someone hundreds or thousands of dollars to smuggle you in to Canada. You're able to live there for a while and get some work, even if you are worried about being deported. That's more a case of worrying than suffering, and all of that will have been brought on by your own conscious decision to enter Canada illegally. You can cure whatever worrying you have simply by returning back over the border. The vast majority of illegal aliens aren't here because they fear persecution in their home countries, and we have programs to deal with such cases so that can be excluded from consideration. The U.S. has no responsibility to ensure that foreign citizens can make more money, and immigration to the U.S. is not the way to alleviate global poverty. There are over five billion people around the world that are poorer than the average Mexican, and inviting those five billion here isn't going to work. Wallis' plans will mostly help Mexican citizens; where's his compassion for the billions of people who are much poorer?

Wallis continues:

What hasn’t changed is the moral crisis created by the failures of the status quo. Every day millions of families live in fear of their lives being irreparably disrupted or dislocated because of one member’s immigration status. Human beings searching for economic opportunity, but frustrated by a complicated and unresponsive visa or legal guest worker system, die as they venture across vast desert expanses, making a desperate attempt to find a better life. Undocumented workers, many of whom are women, have their rights and dignity violated on a daily basis because they have little recourse against their employers. Young people, who came here as children, live as “illegals” in the only country they have ever known as home.

1. As with "suffering", how exactly would deportation "irreparably" damage someone? We'd take away something they weren't entitled to in the first place, returning them to their previous situation. That situation might be dire, but that returns to point 3 above: we can't solve problems for billions of people by letting them come here. However, them returning home will put pressure on their home countries to reform. Wallis is going in the opposite direction: he's helping foreign elites send the people they don't want to take care of or who might cause political trouble to the U.S. and in exchange they get billions in remittances. See separating families for more.

2. As discussed on the false compassion page, Wallis' immigration position will increase border deaths. If Wallis and others had in the past opposed illegal immigration and encouraged people to stay in their own countries, they could have reduced such cases. Instead, Wallis and others made the problem worse and will continue to do so.

3. There's a reason why we only have certain numbers of visas for certain types of people who want to come here: to avoid negatively impacting American workers and social welfare programs. Foreign citizens simply do not get to decide what our policies are: only U.S. citizens can do that.

4. What Wallis says about "violated" is to an extent true of individual illegal aliens, even if as with all the rest he's being melodramatic. However, that once again is a situation that illegal aliens voluntarily put themselves in to and they can cure it by returning home. As with border deaths, Wallis has made the very situation he complains about worse by encouraging illegal immigration. Speaking about illegal aliens as a group, Wallis is being deceptive. Many powerful groups are strong supporters of illegal aliens and will fight for their rights (and to give them new rights they aren't currently entitled to). See immigration vulnerable for a longer discussion.

5. Regarding those "young people", Wallis yet again complaining about a situation those like him helped bring about and that those like him would make worse. Parent voluntarily put their children in a precarious situation. Instead of chiding the parents, Wallis rails against our laws. Some of those "young people" aren't so young: various versions of the anti-American DREAM Act were planned for people in their 30s. The "reform" Wallis supports would reward parents putting their children in precarious situations, and would encourage other parents to do the same. Instead of solving the problem, Wallis would make it worse.

Then, Wallis really shows how little regard he has for his flock:

It has become abundantly clear that immigration reform is the moral test of our politics... Evangelicals have been at the forefront of the push to fix our broken immigration system. Long considered an important political constituency, our engagement has drawn significant attention for its breadth and depth. We aren’t motivated by political calculations or economic self-interest, but by the call of Jesus who audaciously proclaims that the way we treat the most vulnerable members of our society, including immigrants, ­the biblical “stranger,” reflects how we treat Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46). We stand outside of a broken political system, urging our leaders to prioritize the common good. We believe that what is morally right should never be nakedly sacrificed for political gain.

1. See the welcome the stranger page for links to religious discussions showing how Wallis is misleading about the Bible.

2. See the system is broken page for how Wallis is misleading about that claim.

3. The idea that religious leaders are simply motivated by religious concerns is beyond absurd. Does Wallis truly believe his followers are going to fall for that? While there might be a misbegotten religious component, a strong motivation for religious leaders is to increase the size of their flock. In addition to that, Wallis is obviously politically motivated such as serving on an Obama administration advisory board. Wallis claims to "stand outside of a broken political system", yet there he is right in the middle of it. The "reform" Wallis supports would give the Democratic Party millions of new voters and would give Wallis increased power. Does anyone sincerely think Wallis has no political motivation to do what he does?

In his piece, Wallis shows absolutely no compassion for the fate of Americans who'd be harmed by the "reform" he supports. For a tangible example, imagine that you're a cashier working at WalMart. If comprehensive immigration reform passes, some percentage of former illegal aliens in your community will be able to apply for your job. As illegal aliens they couldn't apply for work as a WalMart cashier, but when they're legalized they'll be able to do that if they're qualified. That will greatly help WalMart: more potential workers equates to lower wages. But, that will harm you: you'll face reduced wages and might even lose your job.

Want to do something about this? Write @jimwallis and ask him where's his compassion for American workers who'll face reduced wages and increased competition for scarce jobs. And, look up those who chat with him on Twitter and make the points above to them. Don't let him continue to show how little regard he has for Americans including his own congregation.

[1] ideas.time . com/2014/02/19/
[2] cis . org/vaughan/actually-a-little-deceptive