The complicated issue of immigration reform has finally reached the hallowed halls of Congress.
Eighty years ago, as Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office in the midst of an economic and moral crisis of worldwide proportions, he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Seventy years ago a young Anne Frank, writing in her diary said, "In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."
Forty five years ago Dr. Martin Luther King said, "I have a dream."
Four years later Pope Paul VI said, "If you want peace, work for justice."
This list of famous quotations could go on. But what all of these people had at the core of their convictions was the belief that the laws under which people were living had betrayed those people, either by injustice or the lack of enforcement.
Now the United States and the world are grappling with the reality of ongoing economic and moral crises. Poor laws, lack of enforcement of good laws, greed and incompetence have created a world with monumental problems. What unites the moral crisis of the economy, terrorism, the moral crises and our own immigration crisis is the failure of law.
I speak today as a lawyer. Not an American civil lawyer, but as a canon lawyer of the Roman Catholic Church.
I want to give not a definition, but a description of law. Law is the "owner's manual" of society. The laws found in the books tell us how to maintain our relationships with each other, interact, work together, and preserve our rights and the rights of others.
Just as with the owner's manual of our cars, if the information in the manual is wrong, the whole system eventually breaks down. That is what has happened within our own country and throughout the world.
In America and in nations around the world, the moral and legal systems governing immigration are broken.
Eleven million undocumented people living in America is the result of both poorly written laws, inadequate laws, and poorly enforced laws. But these people are here and they are not all going away. Instead, many are essential workers in our economy.
We need immigration reform which keeps our borders secure, creates a simple but just path to citizenship, and shares the costs of doing this with the economic gift most of these people are to our economy. Calling this "amnesty" is an absolute falsehood; these are "fear itself" people.
There are people in our country who are greedy and racist, who do not express that "people are really good."
These are not the people who can be allowed to lead this discussion and debate. It is our laws that have created this problem and it must be our new laws, based on both King's "dream" and Pope Paul's "justice" - which can turn it from being a problem to being a monumental gift to America.
As the Senate considers immigration reform, I ask that all congressional delegations support immigration reform and vote yes.
The Rev. W. Thomas Faucher is the pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Boise.