Sunday, January 16, 2011

Will the Obsessed Persist without Listening?

Will the obsessed persist without listening? This is a distinct and scary possibility in Senator Mike Delph’s situation. Senator Delph represents the Indiana district where I go to church, and reportedly he too is a church attender. In addition, he and I are aging white males and Hoosiers. Plus, as you will read below, there are other similarities between us. But it’s the differences that have me worried—for him, for our state, and more importantly for others like him who share his views and still claim to be Christians.

On Senator Delph’s part, I sense that he’s increasingly trapped by the obsession to press forward with draconian measures and egged on by a radical fringe group.

Below you will find our recent interactions:


Friday, January 14 (Written message I sent to Senator Delph via his web page):

Dear Senator Delph:

I’m happy that you had a nice Christmas and that you are still enjoying your tree. I note in the latest posting on your web page that you are also ready to unveil a revised version of your immigration bill. Hopefully it will be seasoned by a greater spirit of compassion and hospitality for all those involved.




Friday, January 14 (Voice message he left for me at my office phone):

Hey Norman Wilson. This is State Senator Mike Delph, giving you a call. We have introduced our Identities and Immigration Bill. You and I just philosophically disagree on the issue, which is fine. It’s America. I would encourage you to participate in our committee process. Senate Bill 590 is slated to be heard in the Senate committee on Pensions and Labor on Wednesday, February 2nd, at 9 AM, and I believe they are going to try to get that in the Senate chamber. It’s a bit more comprehensive than what I did last year. I think it’s tough, but fair. I’m sure you will have a different vantage point on the matter. Nevertheless, I hope all is well with you and the family and wish you all the best and hope you have a great weekend. Senator Delph.


Sunday, January 16 (E-mail I sent to Senator Delph):

Dear Senator Delph,

Thank you for your gracious voice message last Friday. I am grateful that you took time to call me. Now I write you because I sense that you are a sincere person that is looking for thoughtful interaction on the matter of immigration in our state.

By the way, I just read that you have roots in Kentland and Frankfort and went to school at Purdue. I was born and raised in Lafayette, graduated from Jefferson High School, and then studied at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion and at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. My parents were also Hoosiers. My dad lived a number of years in Logansport and then Frankfort, and my mom was from Fowler. So it seems that you and I have similar roots. Admittedly my immediate family’s fifteen years in Latin America followed by our subsequent immersion in Latino culture here in Indiana have had a significant influence on my perspectives.

It’s true that you and I disagree in several key areas on the issue of immigration, although there are some basic areas of agreement.
• First, I with you love my state.
• Second, I agree with you that uncontrolled immigration is a problem.
• Third, I agree with you that every nation has a right to defend its borders and place reasonable guidelines on their workers.

My primary concern with your approach is that lots of innocent people will get hurt. Three things about your bill are troubling to me:

• First, requiring local police to ask for proof of legal residency if they have reasonable suspicion that a person is not a citizen or legal visitor would lend itself to profiling. This clearly feels like an anti-immigrant bias. I realize that you have included words designed to minimize this possibility, but I do not think that they are enough to protect us from this possibility.

• Second, the idea of implementing policies of English only also feels like an anti-immigrant bias. First generation immigrants in America have typically needed time to learn the language of the majority culture. Furthermore, America is not an English only country contrary to common views held by some in the Midwest. Entire states in the southwest of our country originally were part of Mexico, and many still have Spanish speaking communities that constitute a vibrant part of America today. It makes sense that we will have immigrants from those areas that have always been American citizens and still today speak Spanish as their heart language. I would like for Indiana to be a welcoming place for those Americans that would chose to immigrate to our state.

• Third, putting pressure on workers will inevitably hurt innocent children. I sensed the last time you and I met that calling attention to this concern is a frustration for you. The reality is that given the years that have passed without due attention to the immigration problem, thousands of innocent children would be negatively affected by your bill along with others with whom their lives have become intertwined in recent decades. The hurtful impact of your bill on these innocent people needs to be taken into account.

I realize the above concerns are not directly related to the impact your bill would have on our state’s economy. On that issue too, as you know, there are varied interpretations. I think it would be helpful for you to take a more comprehensive look at the data, instead of picking and choosing perspectives that favor your approach. For example, I still have not heard an honest recognition on your part of the number of positive ways that immigrants contribute to our state, both documented and undocumented. Plus I still haven’t seen a reasonable accounting of how the revenues from the taxes collected from undocumented immigrants are helping to offset the added expenses of caring for that population.

While radical conservatives seem to be energized by your approach, there is a significant number of Hoosiers looking for a more reasonable approach, of which I am one.

I am praying for you as you seek wisdom and guidance from above regarding this matter.


Norman G. Wilson


In conclusion, I have a question and a request:

So, what do you think should be added to our conversation?

Would you join me in praying that God will guide Senator Delph and our other government leaders in addressing the immigration problem?

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