This is an adaptation of a letter I wrote to my clergy, in response to the synagogue's missive about being compassionate to immigrants:
As you should know, I did not support Donald Trump. I am a lifelong liberal Democrat My vote for Hillary caused some hard feelings with some people to whom I feel close. Opinions on discrete matters and issues need to be based on facts, not emotions. The fact is that the separation of parents and children started in 2014. I doubt it was Obama's decision personally. I do not feel this lies at Trump's doorstep.
I do not feel that enforcement of U.S. law equals "nativist sentiment." As much as the caring side of me would like to solve the world's problems, the fact is that most countries in this world are anarchic, kleptocratic and violent. Though I am not an adherent of Thomas Hobbes, regretfully he was right when he wrote that "No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short." The United States has created something better. If we encourage the chaotic onslaught of the billions of people that have not organized a civil society in this manner, the world will have no "shining lights" to which to look. Israel, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and to a lesser extent the Scandinavian countries, the countries of the European continent, and Costa Rica are parts of this very limited constellation. When the West abandoned the respective colonial empires there was hope that each of these societies would find, in their own way, the path to civil society. For far, it has not proven to be the case.
People have cited the Bible on behalf of “humane” treatment of immigrants. See Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22, Deuteronomy 27:19. This does not mean to fling open the gates. The Old Testament and Western democracy are not suicide pacts. I have not studied enough text to know what the passages mean.
Our duties to the immigrants are balanced by our responsibility to our own country. The people who "need to live safely and securely" to quote a recent clerical missive, include us. Bringing an unlimited number of people who have never lived in a society that exists as a free society largely because of self-discipline is not congruent with safety and security. What we are doing is dumping people more or less at random on communities not equipped to cope with them. The call for compassion does not come with any program for education of these people, either in English or in the ways of civil society. Bringing people in so that they can experience the glories of incarceration or at best severe disorientation is cruel. What is needed is to condition aid to these countries on allowing the donors to administer the aid.
In short, all issues of contemporary concern need to be discussed in a calm, cool and collected manner. Not one stoked by emotion.