Maimonedes in the House

One of the twenty-three marble relief portraits over the gallery doors of the House Chamber is Maimonedes (link).  Mainomedes lived from 1135-1204 and is remembered as a Jewish scholar.

In his work The Guide for the Perplexed states that “[w]e naturally like what we have been accustomed to, and are attracted towards it. […] The same is the case with those opinions of man to which he has been accustomed from his youth; he likes them, defends them, and shuns the opposite views.”

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The first time I recall needing to fully discuss an issue before taking a position was 1994.  Prop 187 was placed on the ballot and its purpose was fund citizenship screening to deny immigrants services such as non-emergency health care, public schools, etc.  I was a sixth grader and I recall debating that proposition in class.  I opposed it and I lost.   Many of my catholic school classmates probably saw my face of confusion and let me know they agreed with me, but voted as their parents did.

Do unto others as you want them to do unto you means helping those in need which undoubtedly included undocumented persons seeking a better future, no?  I did not understand what was not to like about persons coming to the US from Mexico and other Latin American Countries.  It was essentially  Ellis Island without the island but adding guacamole and tacos…whats not to like?

Practically speaking an undocumented immigrant despite having no legal status still has payroll tax deducted by their employer.  Those taxes pay for many of the services that would be denied.  Also many undocumented persons work for low wages and would be entitled to a tax refund, if they were able to file them.  But then as now there is no clamor to return payroll taxes to undocumented persons when they are deported, is there?

Prop 187 was resolved in California.  The proposition was challenged in court and eventually completely removed in 2014 by SB 396 (which was mostly symbolic because the law died in 1999).  The episode change the minds of a generation and I believe cost the Republican party their stronghold in California (recall…Ronald Regan was a CA governor and Pete Wilson proposed the ballot initiative).

Depending on your level of involvement with undocumented persons and position on that ballot initiative you may have lost friends, argued with family, etc.  Of course the immigration system is still a mess and has been for a while.

The argument of “doing it the right way” is a joke.  Check out the USCIS Visa Bulletin to know how long the line is (link). Family Sponsored Immigration or “Chain Migration”depending on your political persuasion as of September 2019 is processing applications almost 20 years old. (yup that says Nov 8, 1999 for Mexico).  A few folks that got that application in before Y2K is finally getting it reviewed… whoopee !

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Courtesy of USCIS.gov

Regardless of your position on this administration’s methods, practices or policies the undeniable truth is there is an immigration issue in the United States and a large portion of undocumented persons.  The current administration’s policies have forced immigration front and center.  This moment is the prop 187 for these United States and we need to decide; (1) what are “American values”, (2) whether to share those values with others who want to join and (3) if so how to go about it.

No side has the perfect solution nor does this author.  But, if each can decide for themselves and discuss (not argue) we can reach agreement.  When there are discussions ideas move forward when there are arguments there are winners and losers…or do we going to kick the can down the road another decade?  Facts are stubborn things and “Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.”   -Maimonedes, The Guide for the Perplexed.

Will we withdraw to our side taking solace in the customs of youth and refuse to engage with those who disagree with us? Will we decide as our parents or decide for ourselves?

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