A call for amnesty

by Mary Ann McGivern

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I heard an economist from the state of Georgia talking on the news the other day about the need for farm labor. He said we need a guest worker program, but not amnesty.

I was disappointed that the interviewer didn't ask why amnesty would be such a bad thing. We need workers. These are men and women willing to do the toughest labor, in the heat amid the bugs, the economist said. That should count as evidence of good citizenship.

Instead, he, the economist, wants to send them all to prison for using false social security numbers. Even there, the money that should go to the workers went back to the government. We could consider its loss as punishment, if punishment is required.

Of course some workers would prefer to be able to return home. They don't want citizenship. We need them more than they need us. But instead, Alabama and Georgia are passing stringent laws to keep them from coming at all. And food is rotting in their fields.

Utah, on the other hand, is giving credit to its undocumented workers for past labor and asking the federal government for an exemption from immigration law. The churches in Utah led this reform effort.

We're a nation of immigrants. But we've gone a little crazy the past 10 years. People want to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. It's time to pressure the faith community, state by state, to join the call for amnesty and immigration reform.

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