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tv   Ethical Perspectives on the News  ABC  January 31, 2016 11:00am-11:30am CST

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announcer: ethical perspectives on the news is produced by the inter- religious council of linn county which is solely responsible for its content. the views and opinions expressed on this program do not necessarily reflect those of the staff and management of kcrg-tv9. martha: good morning. i'm martha rogers and i'll be the host and moderator for this morning's panel on ethical perspectives on the news. there's been a lot of emotional hot button topics in the news in the last couple of months, but one that doesn't seem to go away is one i think we'll have time totoexplore and focus ononhis morning. it's been in the political ads, it's been in the news, and the topic that we're going to look at is immigration. it evokes a lot of emotional responses from us. it evokes a lot of opinions, opopions of pro and con on the ways to approach it what our actions are and what our attitudes. i hope that you along wiwi myself will learn lots from the panenethat we've assembled this morning. we
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professionals with us that have a lot to share. i'd like to introduce them to you at this time. sitting g xt to me is lynda barrow, professor of political science at coe college. welcome linda. lynda: thank you. it's good to be here. artha: nice to have e u here. sitting next to linda is ray scheetz, an attorney in cedar rapids who has some expertise and some practice in thth area also. ray: good morning. martha: good morning. thanks for being here ray. rounding out our panel is ann naffier. ann's come to us from des moines this morning. she's with the program called juice for our neighbors. ann: good morning. martha: good morning. ann, let's start with you. what is justice for our neighbors? ann: justice for our neighbors is a state-wide non-profit organization that provides free legal assistance and representation to low income immigrants throughout iowa. i'm herere because i am the attorney who works with the cedar rapids site. we come to cedar rapids once a month and we see any low income immigrants or as many as we can who need
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evaluate cases, and take on as many cases as we can. we are associated with the united methodist church, and so we do come from a faith- based background, although i want to be clear that we're not evangelical in any way. we serve all immigrants regardless of their religion and we don't have any kind of requirement for them to attend a church or anything like that to be served by us. martha: all three of you have some practicall experience in this field. what's happening with immigration, migration? when i was doing research for today's panel, they use those two words interchangeably. let's start righthere. i know abouou migrationonith birds, but i'm not that familiar about migration with people and immigration. ray: well, because i'm a lawyer and i practice immigration law i can tell you what's been happening with the immigration laws, and that is nothing. it's such as you say, it's such a hot button topic. there is no agreement. there is very little agreement, ananwhen very little agrgrment
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stays as is. for a lot of people, the status quo isn't working. but nobody can agree how to fix it. that's the status of immigration.n. martha: does that mean from a legal standpoint that we're using some archaic policies or . ? ray: i think it's not nececesarily an archaicc policy. it's one of willful blindness. we are making ourselves blind. when i say we i'm talking about americans. we are willfully blinding ourselves to the fact that there is something areund bftween 12 to 15 million undocumented people in the united states. those are all ages. nobody seems to be able to agree as to how to process, how to incorporate the
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martha: and contributing members of society. ray: well, i didn't use that word intentionally because 99% of undocumented people do contribute to society. they're not law breakers. they're hard working. they have families. they own things. but they can't become legal. in that sense of the word, yes, they can't contribute, but they contribute in so many other ways. martha: thank you for clarifying that. lynda: i would add it's not just the question of the undocumented but immigration ii general. when you say people are split, the american public is split as well, split as to whether there should be a path to legalization or whether those folks have to go home first, split ds to whether immigration as a wholol
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country. currently about one in seven people on this country was born elsewhere, and yet, we're fairly divided on wheer we think in general it's a good thing. ann: iiould just say this is in putting it a global perspective we're at a time in our world's history in which we have more immigrants than we ever have e the past. we have a law which does not move very well with the times which really doesn't meet the needs of the united states, either the immigrants or economy, and we ha in which we have more immigration than ever, so we really do need to update our way of dealing with it. martha: that makes the issue even more comicated in my thinking because we look at immigration withtheople and families legally, illegally. but then i wonder too, is immigration a matter of choice, is it a matter of survival with all the unrest in the world what do some of your experiences say about that? lynda: i would agree that there are different kinds, there are voluntary
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people. most of the voluntary migrants are probably for family reunififation or perhaps to seek a better economic future, but the involuntary can be refugees, as well as people who are trafficked. ann: i always talk about in my presentations about the push pull factors, there are factors that are pushing people out of their countries. most people are not adventurous. many people are and they love doioi that, but most people leave their countries, they pick up and leave often for ever because they are forced to. it's either political problem they have a war, or there are economic problems, or there ararenvironmental problems. i think we're going to see that more as climate change affects many areas where many people live. but for some reauon they are pushed out of the country, they're pushed out of the place where they're living because they're not able to make a living, they're not able to support their
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want to do with their lives there. then what pulls them to the united states specifically, despite what we say about people, americans not having jobs and things like that, the truth is there are jobs for these people. they come because there are jobs for the people who come to the united states. that's a big thing that pulls them there. another big thing that pulls people to the united states is they already have family members here. we've been taking in immigignts from many, manyy years. many of them are not so far along in their development here in the united states that they haven't lost ties with people back in their home cououries. sometimes it's veve close ties, sometimim it's their spouses and their parents and their children, and sometimes it's cousins and neighbors and nephews and many of them of course come illegally. the because there are no immigration programs that they can come with. there's this myth that all people have
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just go home and get in line and not jump in front of we would be fine no line for people to get into, which is why you have a lot of people comingng here. there's something for them here. there's danger for them back home. their choice sometimes is a life and dea choice. so the fact that there was no specific c ne for them to get into is overshadowe d by the fact that they have to be here and so they come undocumented. martha: when you say there is no line for them, is that from the l lal perspective? ann: sure. martha: there is no line for them to get into access of . ann: well let me, and ray i think would agree. i'm an attorney as well. the line, i mean there are certain lines, there are people visas because usually they're people with a high degree of education, maybe in a stem field, science, technology, something like that, but they have to wait because there's so many people who are coming in with those kinds of
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wait their turn to be able to come in. or you have family base immigration. you have someone who can apply f f, it's not very wide, you can't apply for your nephews or nieces or grandparents or anything like that, but you can, someone who's here as a us citizen can apply for their parents, or tir children, spouse, siblings,s,o those people. but there are long lines for those areas. for instance, the sibling, a brother or sister of a u citizen sayrom mexico is going to wait at least 15 years maybe. it's'seen 12 for a long time, but a very, very long time before they can come. there is that kind of wait in line. but@if you're a person in make a better life for yourself, but you didn't go to college, you're not an engineer, and you don't have family who have been close family who have been here bebere, there's no line for that kind of a person, there's no line for the kind of people like simply came over to make a bett life for themuelves.
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t as you said it's a very, very long time for most people. ann: not for people who don't have family or employment based options. there's no specific line just to come over because you want to come over or because you feel the need to come over. do you think there is some sort of a line? lynda: yes. yes. ann: what would that line be? lynda: it's the line where people line outside the us embassies in various countries and ththline is blocks and blocks long in the places like the philippines and so on. yes, there are very long lines. ann: those lines, i mean the only lines i can imagine, ray help me here, the only lines i can imagine would be people applying for visitor visas, because people lining up in lines would not be eligible for any kind of actual immigrant, liki being able to come and live in the united states. martha: can we make an assumption that there are the regulations for those who go thugh the legal channels for employment or for illns and family qeunification. i think when i hear i ion the news
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political candidates that are vying for a nomination now, am i assuming correctly when i assume that the hot button of it is the illegal immigration? lynda: well, right now also refugee status is huge. not so big for the united states because we're not contiguous to . central americans, some of them may be claiming refugee status, but in terms of the people fleeing from syria and iraq and afghanistan and other hot spots lime that, a lot othem the big destination is turkey simply because of geography. then the next step if they have the opportunity germany is a big farite, but you have to get there. martha: when you approach your classes with your r students, what types of immigration issues are they concerned with that they talk about most or ask about most? lynda: i wouldn't say there's any one particular question, but we are living in an age of
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are very, very high numbers of immigrants right now. people in the world are in transit. that includes people who are again moving for voluntary r rsons, a factors. some of the push factors we could argue as to whether or not that's leaving voluntarily, leaving as a refugee and so on. then the people who arereeaving involuntarily. i think refugees would typically be included in that number. those people are truly fleeing persecution, a well-founded fear of persecution. martha: that's the inevitable migration. they have to leave. they would probably face death or starvation where they are. lynda: yes, precisely. martha: can't provide for their family. lynda: that's why some four million people lt syria in the l lst four years. martha: i can'n'imagine what
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ann: incredible, incredible. political cost when they get in the lines that are invisible that they can't seem to get into. ann: : don't know if yououll have e en, i'm sure you syria where there was a town was under siege and 100 people had starved to death, pictures of people just haven't eaten in months. if that's what you're dealing with, if that's what y y're facing in your home country, absolutely it's involuntary. because what are they going to do? they either die or they leave. martha: when they come to the united states what's the first thing an immigrant has to face to become legal? what steps do they have to take? ray: depends on how they get hehe. if you're alking about a refugee and d ey arrive they arrive on refuge status which means they have legal status and it's a couple of years before they can get a green card assuming that they'ree crime free. it depends. if you're talking about a family member that
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for a spouse, then there's financial obligations. the us cicizen has to show the us government that they can financially support this person so they don't go on the government dime. it just depends on the type of category in which the person comes. ann: briing up another hot button issue at least from a year and a half ago, and i don't knowowf people are remembering, but we had this surge of unaccompanied minors on the border. these are children coming mostly from central america, mostly from m nduras, el salvador, guatemala. they come to the united states. they were not given refugee status before they came. right now the un high commissionn refugees does not recognize ntral americans as s fuges and therefore the united states also does not recognize them as offici legal refugees. however, they are fleeing violence, they're fleeing abuse, they're fleeing crime in their
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united states they're just crossing the border without permission. they're not being sponsored by their family members. they're weren't given that refugee status at first. once they cross the border they're almost instantly caught by border patrol because there are so many border patrol along the border, but in their particular case for the children, that's okay because they know once they're caught by the border patrol they know that they'll be given a chance to apply for asylum. asylum is their chance to prove that they would suffer persecution if they would return to their country. now most of them don't get asylum because our asylum laws are very strict, and for many legal legalities that have to do with asylum they often don't t tually qualify for it. but that's their dream, that's their hope when they're crossing the border, is that they will be able to get that asylu martha: what happens to children? the reason i ask this is i lived in colorado for a few years. my husband's office was next to a
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with ice and the buses took the parents away and the children were ft in school not knowing where their parents were. the parents were sent to texas for some handling and the children were left parentless in the towns in colorado. ray: that same thingg happened here in postville. ann: and marshalltown , marshalltown a couple of times.ray: six years s o, seven years ago. . nobody seemsmso consider that when they snatch up the parents. the government doesn't consider that which is really very unfortunate. martha: is the government locacaor state or national then required to house or educate or feed these children that come in? ray: i can just speak about what happened in postville. in postville members of the community came to assistance, other families that weren't arrested came to assistae. i
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hundreds of people took refuge during that time. i saw the desperation and it was not nice. anybody that . this is on sunday morning. if they're religious at all, if they're christian at all, and they go up and see that kind of suffering, then they might think twice about this hardline stance thax martha: it's cruel. i volunteered in colorado. it must have been happening around the same time in the united states with immigration at the swift plants. i held a child all night that couldn't stop screaming for fear of not knowing its parents or its next meal. it was just so heartbreaking . ray: when i talk about the willful blindness as we talked out earlier, we don't have a
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issues. our legal system now is arrest and detain for the most part. we don't worry about, when i say we the american government really doesn't concern itself with the consequences of that. recently we had this dream act that came in effect maybe two or three years ago. ann: daca, different action for childhood arrivals. ray: that gave soso benefit to oung children thaha came here with their families when they were very young, when they had no say in it and have had no legal status. there were several say tens of thousands of kids that came whenen they were young g that are able and now do have somewhat of legal status even though . ann: it's called differed action so it's a t tporary status. it's not residenen, it doesn't lead to citizenship, but
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of our young people who are in high school and college. martha: so they fall into a more protective guided category but it's not .ray: president obama tried to do some things unilaterally and of course our constitutional system doesn't allow unilateral action, and so his actions have been stuck in the courts for the last couple of years. a big caseses going to be heard this term by the united states supreme court as to whether or not what president obama did with these kind of programs is legal. martha: we're supposed to be looking at the ethical perspectives of all this. whether you're a religious person or not is it ethical and how we have these attitudes or how we have the lack of action or of actions in our behaviors to a aress some of these issues? ray: i often see small acts of civil disobedience when the people know that it's illegal to help some undocucunted person but they'll do it
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easy to criticize existing laws and particularr cases. however, the fact of the matter is 20% of the world's immigrants come to the united states. we are by far the largest receiving country of any country in the world. in addition, we have fairly open borders. that's part of globalization actually, is that countries are to sime extent losing control of their borders. in thisisay and age, this age of terrorism, that makes people anxious. ray: that's not a bad thing that the united states attracts t number that you said. lynda: i'm not saying it's a bad thii, but i'm saying g en at some poinini believe you do have to draw a line. i mean, i don't propose that we just throw open borders. we are members of states. we are citizens. we are part of the social contract. we haveve responsibilitie s to the state. the state has responsibilities to us. our state can taxs. no other entity in the w@rld can do that. people elsewhere in the world are not payingng
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of a state and we may choose or may have to leave our state, but i of dream world if we think that state borders don't matter. ray: i don't think anybody suggested to put up the borders and let everybody in. the problems tht i've been addressing are the 12 million people that are here. we can't pretend that they're not here. the laws, i think everybody will agree that the laws that we have now aren't working. martha: it's'sultilayered. we have people coming in. we have people already here. we have than their parents rtha: it sounds likikwe're just not equipped to address that as a country at this time as things have increased in the world. ann: we have conflicting laws as well. the us is a signatory to the un convenenon. actually not the convention, the protocol for refugees from
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we've promised to do and all the countries who have signed onto that protocol have promised to do is that if a person comes to your country who would face persecution by their government or by a force their government cannot control were they to return to their country, that we have a responsibility. this is something we have agreed to do. we have a responsibility to not repatriate, forcly repatrie them to their countries. martha: who is we you're speaking of? ann: the us government. martha: united states. ann: the united states government, exactly. as do all countries. now of course in the case of syria most syrians are not here in the united states yet. they're getting degrees in turkey and places like that, jordan. then it becomes jordan and turkey and greece's responsibility if they're signatories to that protowol to not repatriate those migrants, those refugees. now dodos that mean that they can actually take on all those cases themselves? jordan certainly can't. i don't think the other countries
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world has to step in. lynda: right, i mean the fact of the matter is in terms of especially refugee flows where it's just helter-skelter people leaving quickly, they often go to immediately to neighboring states which may be just about as bad shape as they are. they're often areas with a lot of strife and political instabity and they've already got problems of their own, and then they're overwhelmed by . i mean jordan is a small country and they'reverwhelmed by the sheer numbers. then these people for the most part they're put in refugee mps in lots of places, where they wait, they apply for asylum. if you apply for asylum in united states, it's probably going to take about 18 months to get approved and meanwhile . ann: or if you get placed in proceedings in iowa, sosof you're not approved in your first application and you get placed in immigration proceedings here in iowa right now you're looking at four or five years. martha: what happens in the meantime? where is s at person? limbo. ann: yeah, that's a really good question. work permits, but
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work permits, whi means they're living here, they're in legal status because they have a pending application, they absolutely have permission to be here until they have no way to maintain themselves. martha: then i'm thinking ann: yep, they don't have any of that either.r. martha: . .nd all the cost. it sounds like it's a great cost to the local counties or the states, but it's also a cost to us as individuals if we don't respond mehow. they're in limbo. ann: it's a cost to our economy. many of these refugees. some refugees come to us suffering from post- traumatic stress syndrome and other things like hat, but many of these refugees would be a wonderful economic boon for us if they could work. many of them come with many talents. many of them come with education, but they're not gen that chance. lynda: the ones who are fleeing to europe because europe is taking a lot of the syrian refugees. first of all, european countries are deciding exactly which government benefits they're going to give. but you
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for a couple of monthssnd they're finding really that people find jobs pretty quickly and start rather well. martha: then they accommodate into the cture and . lynda: but one they don't go and move permanentnt, that in fact when things will settle down in their home country because most people don't want to flee their cotry. martha: the human spirit is full of hope and resiliency, but some of these conditions arar things i am glad i haven't had to experience much in life. would be a final comment you would ke to ckallenge our audience with? ann: i guess i would start with in this very political time this should not be a partisan issue. this is not a democratic issue or a republican issue. ts is a humanitarian issue. it's also an economic issue. i think both parties need to be stepping up and figuring out how we can fix our immigration law, not just keep them out, not ju build a wall, but fix our situation. martha: for those coming in and those already here. ann:
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for those who are here, exactly. lynda: i would agree. i think that peopleave a sense, especially people who are nervous about it, that they have a sense that the us government is not losing control of our borders. again, on this age of terrorism that's an outsize fear granted and maybe not a reasonable fear, but it's a real fear. people have to feel thatathey're being protected by their government and that we're not going to have terrorist slip inmartha: not alimmigrants are enemies. lynda: oh certainly not. marthth very, very ann: andndot all terroriris are immigrants. lynda: no. martha: yes, correct. ray what are your . ray: i think there's two issues. the fit issue is what do we do with the 12 million people that are here in the u uted states. i think k completely different people that want to come? i share lynda's concerns about the free@flow of people withousome kind of background checks, criminin checks, terrorism checks. my concern i
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concern should be immediately is the what do we do with all of the people that are here that want to be legal, that want to contribute economically, be part of the community. martha: i think when i hear those kinds of questions asked i have t task myself what are the values that make america strong, and are we using those in this type of a situation, or are we operating on a fear of scarcity of resources for our own people and to keep the outsider out and the fear that you mentioned when you . ray: generally, when things don't result. martha: we're an abundant country and we have so much that we can share and resource. it's not always through the legal sysm only. n: some of what we can share also is trying to make life more livable back in people's home countries so they don't have to come in the first place. lynda: precisely. uortunately, we are not
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ready to use our military when problems arise rather than to send humanitarian aid or development ai martha: you've given us a lot to think about this morning. i thank you so much for your contributioio and for your many efforts between working through the church services and the legal system and through education. you really represent some good things for us. i want to thank you for joining us this mororng and to thananthe inter- religious council for hosting and putting together and producing this important discussion. i challenge you to live ethically, especiall concerning immigration. . ank you and have a good day.
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