Ethics, Undocumented Immigrants and the Issue of Integration: Making a Better Life for Everyone in New York City

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STUDENT VOICES

By: Yohan Garcia

This essay is in response to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs video clip “Nisha Agarwal: IDNYC & the Undocumented Community.”  

According to a study conducted by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), an estimated 643,000 undocumented immigrants live within the five boroughs of New York City. Advocates of the New York City Municipal ID card hoped that government-issued photo identification would bring many of those undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. With the newly elected President of the United States, Donald Trump, many are wondering whether the NYC Municipal ID was the right thing to do as the cards can put undocumented cardholders at greater risk of being harassed by government authorities and even of deportation.

Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, argues that the NYC Municipal ID card has helped many undocumented immigrants do things such as pick up their kids from school, access public and government buildings, interact more easily with police officers, and open bank accounts. Furthermore, the Commissioner argues that the Municipal ID has helped many undocumented immigrants increase their sense of belonging to New York City and to the United States. Given that sixty percent of NYC’s population is foreign born and less than half of the city’s population has a driver’s license, the Municipal ID proves to be an effective legal response to cope with the need for identification in NYC.

One of the biggest misconceptions about undocumented immigrants is that they take job opportunities away from American citizens. Many believe that immigrants do not pay any taxes and that they do not want to assimilate to the United States. However, studies conducted by the Pew Research Center suggests that these opinions are a product of anti-immigrant context which has been sustained and reproduced by the political climate. It is both unethical and immoral to punish individuals for choosing to migrate to another country without having the proper documents. The United States takes in a certain number of refugees per year, would it not be morally wrong to ignore and punish those already living in the country?

Additionally, many undocumented immigrants living in the United States migrated from their native countries due to the negative impact of United States interventions in their homelands. For instance, there are immigrants from Central America and Mexico who have migrated after the United States government’s political, military, or economic intervention. In particular, the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) lead to considerable levels of unemployment in central and southern Mexico. Thus, the right to survive and to thrive both socially and economically justifies the actions of the undocumented community and those helping them with their cause.

Moreover, from a theological perspective, it can be morally right to disobey certain laws. Many biblical heroes such as Prophet Daniel, and Saints like Saint Peter and Saint Paul, became martyrs by refusing to obey unjust human laws. Even though most people will argue that disobeying the law is morally wrong, it is morally right to disobey human laws when they are not in accordance with the Natural Law principles of justice and fairness. Thus, legislators who condemn undocumented immigrants and choose to close the doors of opportunities for these members of our society act negligently, unethically, and immorally.

There is no doubt that Trump’s presidency, with his lack of ethical and moral rhetoric and behavior, poses a greater risk to undocumented immigrants. His narrative fails to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of immigrants in the United States. Is escaping crime and poverty an illegal offense? Is it a moral offense to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities? Is it an unethical offense to give undocumented immigrants a sense of belonging and security? Is it a criminal offense to safeguard immigrant families from harassment and discrimination? These families are already in the United States; therefore, our government officials should enact legislation to provide them with a prosperous future.

Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have vowed to protect cardholders’ personal records by deleting their information if it is requested by the Trump’s administration. It is both the legal and moral obligation of New York elected officials to protect the most vulnerable members in our communities. Even though critics might claim that these actions are completely irresponsible because undocumented immigrants have broken the law, the end justifies the means. In addition, it is important to recognize our moral obligation in helping the most vulnerable members within our communities and giving each other the support we need to get through these difficult times of uncertainty and sense of insecurity.

Given that many undocumented immigrants live invisibly for a long time, the Municipal ID card truly acknowledges their existence. The NYC Municipal ID card was, and still is, worth the risk and the right thing to do. We owe undocumented immigrants a certain obligation of hospitality. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “the right which nature has given to all men of departing from the country in which choice, not chance has placed them” (1774). Whether critics like it or not, the NYC Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio acted as responsible politicians by doing the fair thing for undocumented immigrants with the creation of the NYC Municipal ID card.

Yohan Garcia is completing his M.A. in Ethics & Society at Fordham University.

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Weighty Choices: Ethical Challenges of Addressing Eating Disorders

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STUDENT VOICES | CHYNN PRIZE FIRST-PLACE WINNER 

By: Geena Roth

In certain situations, the moral or ethical decision is obvious, but more often than not, there are a number of complicating factors.  Almost all decisions we make will affect more than just ourselves, forcing us to weigh our own morality against another’s autonomy.  This is particularly true in the case of medical interventions for the sake of another’s health.

Continue reading “Weighty Choices: Ethical Challenges of Addressing Eating Disorders”

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: September 30, 2016

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Technology and Ethics

Tech Giants Team Up To Tackle The Ethics Of Artificial Intelligence
The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, consisting of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and IBM (with Apple in talks to join), weighs in on the missing ethics standards in artificial intelligence.

Fourth Industrial Revolution: With robots, is a life without work one we’d want to live?
“Being gainfully employed is about more than money. We need to consider what will give our lives purpose and connection in the age of automation.”

Should we bring extinct species back from the dead?
New advances in genetic engineering have researchers thinking seriously about de-extinction and which animals we might be able to bring back.

Bioethics and Public Health

Birth of Baby with Three Parents’ DNA Marks Success for Banned Technique
Experts discuss the first successful mitochondrial donation procedure and why the term “three-parent baby” is misleading.

Human Chimera Research’s Huge (and Thorny) Potential
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reversed policy barring funding from research involving human chimeras (mixtures of human cells with animal embryos) which can yield major human development discoveries.

Ethics review identifies top two challenges for genome editing
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics reports a need for urgent ethical scrutiny on new genome editing techniques.

Bioethics in the Election: Where the Candidates Stand
The major presidential candidates’ positions on bioethics-related issues in The Hastings Center’s interactive chart.

Continue reading “Ethics & Society Newsfeed: September 30, 2016”

Was it ethical for the American missionaries to be treated for Ebola ahead of Liberians? Dr. Celia B. Fisher weighs in

Players of the ”L’Etoile de Guinee” football team poses with a sign reading ”Stop to the ebola epidemic” prior to a football tournament gathering youth from Guinea near the Koumassi sports center in Abidjan on August 10, 2014. West Africa was counting the cost of measures to contain the deadly Ebola epidemic on August 10, as unprecedented restrictions caused snarled transport, food shortages and soaring prices.  Photo credit: SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

As the world comes to terms with the recent Ebola outbreak, several ethical questions have arisen, many of which relate to the distributions of Ebola vaccines, and who should be given priority.

Was it ethical for the two American missionaries to receive treatment for Ebola ahead of the local Liberian population?

Continue reading “Was it ethical for the American missionaries to be treated for Ebola ahead of Liberians? Dr. Celia B. Fisher weighs in”

‘Generosity is penicillin to our culture of entitlement’: Cardinal Dolan on ethics, social justice and issues facing millennials

Cardinal Dolan (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH '14 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH '14 (right)
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH ’15 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH ’15 (right)

On Thursday, June 5, 2014, Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education Ethics and Society blog student editors Michael Menconi FCRH ’15 and Ken Ochs FCRH ’15 interviewed Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. The 90-minute interview spanned a range of topics including political party participation, research on human and animal subjects, and how Catholic educational institutions should treat students who become pregnant, among others. He also provided background on many of the Catholic Church’s teachings and moral positions.

Continue reading “‘Generosity is penicillin to our culture of entitlement’: Cardinal Dolan on ethics, social justice and issues facing millennials”

Cardinal Dolan on the Ethical Questions of Our Time & Generation (Full Text of the Interview)

Cardinal Dolan (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH '14 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH '14 (right)
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York (center) with Michael Menconi FCRH ’15 (left) and Ken Ochs FCRH ’15 (right)

 

On Thursday, June 5, 2014, Fordham University’s Center for Ethics Education Ethics and Society student editors Michael Menconi (FCRH ’15) and Ken Ochs (FCRH ’15) interviewed Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. Cardinal Dolan is former President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a member of the Board of Trustees at the Catholic University of America, past chairman of Catholic Relief Services, and he also serves on the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization and Pontifical Council for Social Communications in Rome. His Eminence and the editors were joined by Father Thomas Berg, a moral theologian and advisor to Cardinal Dolan, at St. Joseph’s Seminary of the Archdiocese of New York for the interview.

Ochs: Thank you once again for having us. We would like to get started with our first question. You have had a great deal of interaction and dialogue with young people, and college students, particularly Fordham students. You’ve been to our university many times since you’ve been installed as Archbishop of New York. What values—ethical values, religious values, societal values perhaps—do you believe are most important for those in our generation to hold and put into practice?

Continue reading “Cardinal Dolan on the Ethical Questions of Our Time & Generation (Full Text of the Interview)”

The Scientist-Citizen Dilemma and Moral Stress

Many of the ethical challenges faced by researchers conducting community-based studies with persons addicted to street drugs can be understood in terms of the “scientist-citizen dilemma.” This dilemma arises when researcher’s ethical obligation to produce scientifically valid knowledge conflicts with their sense of moral responsibility to help participants living in poverty with little access to treatment.

Frontline research staff engaged in the practical process of moral agency who encounter such dilemmas on a daily basis often experience moral stress when they cannot actualize these dual values via their work. Such stress may lead them to take actions that while assisting research participants in need jeopardize the validity of the study conducted.  In a recent article, Dr. Celia B. Fisher and her colleagues examined the consequences of moral stress among drug use community researchers and the organizational climates that can reduce or exacerbate these moral conflicts.

To read the full article, please see:

Fisher, C. B., True, G., Alexander, L., & Fried, A. L. (2013). Moral stress, moral practice, and ethical climate in community-based drug-use research: Views from the front line. AJOB Primary Research4(3), 27-38.