Is money talking about SB1070 in Arizona? On August 10, the Santa Monica City Council decided to boycott Arizona and declined to act on its winning bid for a $3 million project with Cavco West, a company making manufactured homes in Maricopa County. This is headline news in the 8/17/2010 issue of the West Valley View because money talks.
From one perspective, this gesture by the Santa Monica council seems to hurt the very people they hope to support. Cavco West employs 210 people, many of them Hispanic, and that $3 million contract would have guaranteed badly needed jobs. From another perspective, those boycotting Arizona are utilizing the only means they have to express their view of SB1070: economics. The Santa Monica City Council cannot vote for Arizona politicians or lobby our state legislature. But they can use the power of their money. Ultimately, whether laws like SB1070 survive and spread to other states might depend on whether the cost of SB1070 is greater than the cost of reforming immigration. As mentioned before, money talks.
What is the perspective of faith on the economics of this whole mess? Shouted proof texts – “Render unto Caesar” (Matthew 22:21) or “If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him” (Leviticus 19:33) – hardly qualify as thoughtful faith. We need to look further and think more deeply.
Neither the Hebrew texts nor the Christian Scriptures are silent on immigration issues. From Genesis 11:31, when Abram (Abraham) left Ur of the Chaldeans to the Epistle to Philemon, where Paul sends the slave Onesimus back to his owner, the Bible is full of stories of people crossing borders and the economic effects.
When the Israelites themselves are about to cross the border and occupy the land beyond the Jordan, faithfulness is linked to economic reward: “so that it may go well with you … in a land flowing with milk and honey ….” When judgment falls and the kingdom ends, the reason was economic: “because they sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals — they who trample the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way...” Amos 2:6-7. Even in the Bible, money talks.
Ideally, Arizonans would pass and support good laws because it is the right thing to do. But we don’t live in an ideal world. In the real world laws are written and signed by politicians who, by definition, have political ambitions. They in turn are supported by individuals and corporations with financial ambitions. When people of faith think carefully about controversial legislation and divisive politics, we need discover the real motivators; in other words, we need to look for the money trail.
Because whether the question is one of immigration or jobs or corporate contracts or the authoritative interpretation of Scripture, one principle holds true: money talks.