Saturday, February 6, 2010

American Missionaries and Hikers: why are Americans flouting global immigration laws?

A couple of recent incidents are making one reflect on dual-standards of globalization; one for westerners (including Americans) and another for the ‘others’ in the globe
Case A) U.S. Baptist Group in Haiti Charged With Child Abductions: Ten Americans who tried to take 33 children out of Haiti last week without proper documentation were charged with child abduction and criminal conspiracy, the New York Times reports. The group, made up mostly of members of a Baptist congregation in Idaho, said they were transporting the children to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. “We did not have any intention to violate the law, but now we understand it’s a crime,” NYT quoted Paul Robert Thompson, a pastor who led the group in prayer during a break in the session.
Question to self: Sure, there is a strong humanitarian motive here. But what the heck were these Americans thinking? A third world country ravaged by natural disaster is a case study to “rescue” orphans, take them across international borders without papers, and get some brownie points from the one above?

Case B) A few months ago, the media in America was all over the story of three American hikers who were arrested in Iran after “straying” across its border with Iraq.
Again Question to self: What the heck were these American “kids” doing, “hiking” in such a volatile part of the world, especially without the right papers/visas?! Reverse the situation; what would happen to a couple of hapless Iranian “kids” who "happen to stray" into American borders while hiking in the Canadian Rockies or in Mexican-US border near Rio Grande? A very hypothecal question I guess since few Iranians will get visas to come “hiking” in Canada or Mexico. And the rare few who do will probably not be foolhardy to stray near American borders without American visas. Given this, why did it surprise the American media when “Iran Accused U.S. Hikers of Espionage

I completely sympathize with the helpless individuals in both situations who find themselves at the receiving, finding themselves in Iranian or Haitian prisons, especially if they were innocent.

There again, if a crisis is an opportunity, here it is: Americans who have the time, energy and wherewithal to go out to the world and solve others problems could reflect on the humanitarian aspects of immigration and closed borders back home?! Just a couple examples:
• Spouses and minor children of American Legal Immigrants (Green Card holders) have to wait at least 4 -5 years before being granted an Immigrant visa to enter the US legally! Would ANY American missionary be willing to sneak in a spouse or child of a legal resident on “humanitarian” grounds?
• Workers in America living legally, paying taxes have to wait years before their Green Card applications are processed. How many missionaries are willing to stick their neck out here

Doctor heal thyself is an old adage comes to mind. But what am I saying, aren’t American Doctors and healthcare workers trying to heal the system? Well, that’s a different story in itself.