Cal Thomas distorted the meaning of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's recent comments that a House immigration bill "is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
In his March 28 syndicated column, Fox News host Cal Thomas distorted the meaning of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) recent comments that an immigration bill passed by the House of Representatives "is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scripture, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably even Jesus himself."
Clinton made her comments in a March 22 press conference where she criticized the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437), a bill that was passed by the House in December 2005. Purporting to summarize the bill, Thomas wrote only that it "would subject illegals, and those who knowingly employ them, to criminal penalties." Without any additional explanation, Thomas quoted Clinton's comments and asserted that she had "misfired."
But as Media Matters for America noted, Clinton's comment that H.R. 4437 would probably criminalize Jesus referred to a separate provision in the bill -- unmentioned by Thomas -- that would subject to as much as five years in prison anyone who "assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States."
The Los Angeles Times reported on March 24 that Clinton argued in her press conference that this provision "would literally criminalize not only every nondocumented immigrant in our country but every person who helped, assisted, reached out [or] otherwise responded in a humanitarian way to the needs of immigrants."
Humanitarian and religious organizations -- including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops -- have expressed similar reservations about H.R. 4437. In a March 22 New York Times op-ed, Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles, wrote: "As written, the proposed law is so broad that it would criminalize even minor acts of mercy like offering a meal or administering first aid."
Later in his March 28 column, Thomas summarized the Biblical Parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus recounted how a Samaritan had aided a robbery victim. Thomas then informed readers that "Jesus didn't call on a government program for help" and that "Jesus never counseled breaking laws" -- neither of which bore any relation to Clinton's contention that H.R. 4437 would criminalize private-sector humanitarian assistance to illegal immigrants.
Thomas also referenced the recent nationwide protests against H.R. 4437, noting that "[t]here were work stoppages and school walkouts." Thomas wrote: "Every person who left school or job should be required to prove they are in America legally. If they cannot, or will not, they should be deemed illegals and deported."
From Thomas's March 28 syndicated column:
"Thousands Rally For Immigrants' Rights" read a headline about the Phoenix march. What rights? If they are here illegally, they have the right to leave. They have no rights under our Constitution, anymore than I might expect the rights of a Mexican citizen should I choose to live illegally in Mexico. Marchers in Los Angeles carried Mexican flags, which should tell us about their primary allegiance.
There were work stoppages and school walkouts. Every person who left school or job should be required to prove they are in America legally. If they cannot, or will not, they should be deemed illegals and deported.
Immigration is developing into a major political issue. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, made a bid for the votes of illegals and their enablers last week. Clinton promised to fight a bill passed by the House in December and debated this week in the Senate. It would subject illegals, and those who knowingly employ them, to criminal penalties. Invoking biblical justification for her opposition to the House measure, Clinton said it "is certainly not in keeping with my understanding of the Scriptures, because this bill would literally criminalize the Good Samaritan and probably Jesus himself."
Democrats have been trying to make inroads on religious language and religious symbolism from the near-monopoly held by Republicans. But, like Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, who once spoke of the Old Testament book of Job as his favorite New Testament book, Sen. Clinton misfired. In the parable told by Jesus, robbers set upon a man, beat him, and left him "half dead." A priest and a Levite passed by, refusing to help the victim. A Samaritan, despised by the Jews, stopped to help the man and also paid an innkeeper from his own pocket to care for him (Luke 10:30-37).
Notice that Jesus didn't call on a government program for help. As for how this relates to illegal immigration, Jesus never counseled breaking laws.