President Obama took a step in the right direction, although he could have taken more.
He spoke from the White House last night about the executive actions he planned to implement in regard to alleviating the painful situation of undocumented migrants. Remarkably, the major television networks declined to carry the address live. I watched the address on my local PBS affiliate's web site.
"You can come out of the shadows," he said, to millions of, but not all, undocumented migrants. Naturally, a debate now opens about the scope and limits of presidential powers. But this decision improves the lot of the mgirant and his or her family in a great number of cases. I feel sure that such an action reflects a basic value of spiritual traditions and religions everywhere.
Welcoming the stranger among us, specifically cited by President Obama, has its roots in the experience of Israel, and their discovery as a people that closeness to the God of the patriarchs and matriarchs required a way of life that protected orphans, widows and immigrants. Jesus of Nazareth prioritized this way of life by teaching his followers to love their neighbor by acting like the Good Samaritan, who aided the stranger from a people feoreign to himself and provided for his needs until he was able to get on his feet.
There is no question in my mind that this executive action is in harmony with and explicitly expresses a fundamental ethical teaching of the Abrahamic, and other, religions and spiritual traditions. It far exceeds supposed concerns over leaving our governmental response to the migrant community among us to a Congress that refuses to acknowledge the need for better treatment of our more recent arrivals to this immigrant nation. Now we need the other steps, to provide health care coverage for people who pay their taxes and have a right to be fully treated with respect, providing us with the opportunity to treat the migrant as tremendous contributors to our societal life.