The Underground Marriage

by Anonymous

One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all.

 – Martin Luther King, Jr.


Hope is a double-edged sword. When I was thirteen years old, I came to somewhat understand politics and its effect on me, my family, and the country I lived in. “Chávez finally died! What a joy!” I heard in the hallways of my high school and even at my grandmother’s house back in 2013. How can people celebrate a person’s death? I asked myself. Yet, he was the reason for Venezuela’s faltering economy leading us to poverty, inflation, a remarkable increase in the murder rate and corruption within the police force and government. People celebrated his death, because it was a sign of hope that their oppression was finally coming to an end. But this sense of hope did not last long. Nicolás Maduro assumed the presidency, ruling Venezuela by decree. The Bolivarian Revolution created food shortages and a decrease in living standards. The government began to impose socialist doctrines on every student by changing the content of our textbooks. Math lessons turned into calculations of how much land needs to be reclaimed from private owners by the government, and social studies became just another form of propaganda for Chávez’s pictures and his Bolivarian projects.

Nonetheless, my family continued to dream and to hope. My older brother decided to trade his dream of becoming a professional musician for the hope of finding a better future in the land of the free. He entered the United States with a student visa (F-1) which allowed him to enroll as a full-time student in a language training program. He did not know English, so this was the first step for a new beginning. Two years passed and money was running out, as he was not allowed to work under a student visa. He was no longer able to pursue a full-time course of study. This broke one of the many student visa rules, leaving him without a lawful immigration status. He did not want to go back to a life of oppression in Venezuela, so he overstayed his visa, fully aware of the risks of being deported and barred from reentry into the country in the future.

After months of worry and desperation, he met a woman who helped him to evade U.S. immigration laws by entering into a sham marriage. One of the most common ways for immigrants to get a lawful permanent resident status in the United States is by being the spouse of a U.S. citizen. Of course, this is illegal if couples do it for the sole purpose of getting a Green Card with no intention of living as husband and wife. For a marriage to be valid, it is not enough to have a ceremony and a stamp on a marriage certificate. The noncitizen and spouse must submit evidence of cohabitation such as commingling finances and pictures of shared experiences together. They must submit to an interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer for the purpose of determining the genuineness of the marriage. In other words, the couple has to prove – through concrete actions – that they intend to establish a life together as a married couple. If they don’t, this is considered a violation of immigration law and violators are subject to harsh legal consequences.

This is just one of many examples from US history, in which people have defied unjust laws, by engaging in conscientious rebellion.  Perhaps the most well-known is the Underground Railroad, from the era of American slavery. This was a vast network of people, routes, and places that helped fugitive slaves from the South to escape to the North and to Canada where African Americans could live as free men and women. This abolitionist movement was led by ordinary people, white and black. Some were farmers, business owners, and ministers. It was not an actual railroad, but a metaphorical one, its purpose being to transport people over long distances from border states like Kentucky, Virginia, and Maryland where slavery was legal. The way it worked was through “conductors” guiding fugitive “passengers” running away from plantations to shelters called “stations” where “station masters” helped them to hide from their owners. Meanwhile, the Slave Acts, first passed in 1793, allowed local governments to capture and return fugitive slaves back to their owners and to punish those people who aided in their flight. Later, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 imposed harsher measures by compelling citizens to assist in the capture of escaped slaves, while even denying these runaways the right to a jury trial. Those who interfered with the rendition process were forced to pay $1,000 and could spend up to six months in jail.

Conscientious rebellion arises from a moral obligation to oppose unjust laws. Is it just to send people back to the place where they are being threatened the most? When I was a child, men in masks pointed a gun at my older brother’s head. They tried to kidnap my youngest brother and attempted the same thing with my mother, just a few months later, at her place of work.  Coming to the United States was one of the only ways to escape these kinds of actions on the part of the Venezuelan government. And yet, the United States immigration policies became harsher with each passing day. During the first academic year, F-1 visa students are not allowed to work, and after that time, they can only participate (with restrictions) in practical training – for little pay – related to their course of study. It is not enough to be a good student, pay taxes, and have no criminal records for the country to offer permanent residency.

Each year, thousands of families are being separated at the borders, and even those with legal immigration status who suffer from drug addiction are detained for prolonged periods and treated far worse than those in prison serving sentences for violent criminal offenses. There has been a growing number of migrants seeking asylum within the United States from countries lacking economic opportunities and with high rates of violence, but they are being restricted in terms of the benefits they can receive and the things they can or cannot do while their petition is pending. My best friend has been under a pending asylum process for more than five years with no progress. She is now a senior undergraduate student who wants to go to medical school and become a neonatal surgeon. However, she cannot apply and have the benefits of a regular permanent resident or a citizen student when it comes to financial aid. She would have to apply as an “international student,” demonstrate that she is economically able to be in the country and pay her tuition out of pocket.  After six years in this country – and in the final stage of my undergraduate studies – the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department denied the visa that allowed me to stay legally in the country as well as my application to register permanent residence in the United States. Since I turned 21 years old, it would take years for another visa to become available for me to adjust my immigration status when petitioned by a family member. As per my decision letter, I am “not authorized to remain in the United States and should make arrangements to depart as soon as possible.” This is how dreams and hopes are crushed. And it is why the current immigration laws are unjust.

It is because of the existence of these unjust immigration laws, human beings are morally obliged to commit acts of conscientious rebellion. People engage in sham marriages as a form of rebellion. We may see it as a demonstration of our human rights, but in the eyes of the government, it is just another crime; “a threat to U.S. national security, financial institutions and the integrity of the immigration system.” Yet, people still enter into a fake marriage being aware that both the foreign national and the U.S. citizen can get a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 (and deportation for the immigrant, of course). Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

This is the modern-day representation of the Underground Railroad. Immigrants are the fugitive “passengers” running away from their country of origin trying to find a “shelter” (sham marriage) with the help of a “station master” U.S. citizen who helps them become free, whatever that might entail. Just as people in the era of slavery had a moral obligation to help enslaved people escape through a metaphorical Underground Railroad, people today have a moral obligation to enter into a sham marriage in order to help immigrants to remain in the country.

Humanity is characterized by love and compassion. We are all human beings. We all have sentiments. We cry, laugh, scream, and love together. By the mere fact of sharing a place on Earth and building relationships with one another, we take on the obligation to offer a helping hand to those in need and to develop a sense of solidarity. As the Scottish philosopher W.D. Ross once reflected, our moral duties arise out of our relationships with other people. All it takes is a look at the man or woman in the mirror to make the world a better place.


16 responses to “The Underground Marriage”

  1. s. wallerstein

    While I don’t believe that people have a moral obligation to enter into sham marriages to help immigrants stay in the U.S. (if only because they can’t marry someone they love while they are married to an immigrant and in fact, I don’t believe much in moral obligations at all), I genuinely hope that you are able to stay in the U.S. one way or another.

  2. Charles Justice

    Think about it this way – wouldn’t it be a better world if people could thrive in the place where they were born and their family of origin was from? The United States has a lot of economic power. It could use some of that power to nudge dysfunctional central and south american governments to do better things for their people, and this could potentially decrease the incentive for people to emigrate. I know this would be difficult, but I think we know enough about political science and economics to do this. It would certainly be worth trying since the spectre of failed states and the refugee headache that that can cause could be much worse. Remember Syria? On the other hand I believe that the United States, morally, should be accepting a lot more refugees than they presently are. After all, who invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in 2002?

  3. Peter Smith

    While sympathetic to your plight I cannot agree to the implied equivalence between the moral wrongs of slavery and the imputed moral wrongs of refusing admission to would be immigrants. There is a great gap between the two in the nature and extent of the wrongs.

    70,000 years ago the human species embarked on a vast migratory expansion that carried them around the world. They entered Europe to find a place already occupied by their cousins, the Neanderthals. Within about 10 to 20,000 years the Neanderthals were all dead, victims of the predatory migratory practices of the human species. In my own region our mountains were filled with hunter/gatherer trives of Bushmen. Within 200 years of our arrival they are all dead. We shot them, every last one of them. All that is left are simple artefacts in their caves and their rock art. In the opening chapter of Julius Caesar’s Commentaries he describes how the Helvetii attempted to violently expand into Gaul, fortunately stopped by Julius Caesar. In 1066 Normans invaded Britain and in short order most English landowners were dead, to make room for the new Norman landowners. And so the story is repeated, thoughout history, again and again.

    My point is that for 70,000 years our species has been in a permanent state of territorial turmoil as the human tribes jostle for space, pushing, shoving, beating each other over the head, occupying coveted land and exterminating the losers. This has been the source of all humankind’s greatest wrongs.

    Consequently we, necessarily, developed defensive groups with strong borders. It was an absolute necessity for survival. It is against this background we must view the strong tensions over immigration. Immigratory pressures inevitably waken deeply embedded cultural fears which are rooted in a very long history. And for good reason. Because we need look only to France to see a current example of what can go wrong.

    I say all this because your essay is essentially the plea of victimhood, given greater moral valence by a questionable moral equivalency. That is what victims do, use all possible means to claim sympathy and mobilise help. And I am sympathetic to that. But, because this is a philosophy web site, and not a victim’s advocacy web site, I want to take a larger, more nuanced view that transcends that of the victim.

    How should we react to the problem?
    1) address it at its source?
    2) allow free immigration with all its attendant and potentially hugely destabilising consequences for the host population?
    3) limit the rate of immigration to the rate at which immigrants can be absorbed and integrated by the host population without causing excessive destabilisation?

    Effectively, option three is the policy that enlightened countries follow. But this is a difficult balancing act. Where do you set the limit to the immigation rate? How do you enforce it in an as humane a way possible? How do you integrate the new arrivals? Because of our long history of migratory pressures the subject arouses passionate feelings. We defend hearth and home at all costs against perceived threats. And so we tend to limit the rate of immigration in a heavy handed way. And petty bureacrats have heavy hands. We compound the problem by neglecting the integration of immigrants and the resulting problems fuel resistance to immigrants. Most importantly, we fail them by not addressing the problem at its source.

    But, at the end of the day, limiting the immigration rate will result in a large number of losers because many will have to be turned away. But what is the alternative?

    And yet our moral duty has been made abundantly clear(Matthew 25)

    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    Finally it should be noted that many immigrants go on to make outstanding contributions to their new host country. They can be a magnificent asset. Or they they can become the turbulent, disaffected inhabitants of the banlieues as is happening in France.

    The key then, is to find a way of quickly and effectively integrating immigrants. This is where you and I can make all the difference.

  4. Bunsen Burner

    ‘Immigrants are the fugitive “passengers” running away from their country of origin trying to find…’

    Refugees perhaps, certainly not immigrants generally. Nearly all the immigrants I know emigrated for fairly prosaic reasons.

    ‘…people today have a moral obligation to enter into a sham marriage in order to help immigrants…’

    Is this a US thing? Because things are not that rosy in the UK. First of all, you can still be deported even though your spouse is in the UK. You will need to still make a request to enter the UK from your country of origin, something that can and often does take years. Even if you stay you will not be allowed to work. This can also take years to sort out. Is your ‘sham’ partner obligated to support you financially as well?

    How far does this obligation go? If you have children, are they obligated to adopt them? Are they obligated to lie for you to the authorities, even in criminal investigations? Are they obligated to risk their lives for you? What are the boundaries here?

  5. When my father was a young adolescent in then- Palestine, he joined the Haganah. One of his primary tasks was to smuggle Jewish refugees from the Nazi concentration camps off of boats and into Tel Aviv. The British had imposed a strict quota and were shipping refugees whom they had caught back to Europe, where they inevitably would be killed.

    Re: the essay, while I think it quite clear that there is no duty to marry someone in order to secure their place in the country — for obvious reasons — it strikes me as equally clear that there *is* a duty *not* to ship people back to dictatorships from which they are trying to escape and to do what one can to prevent that from happening. I’ve indicated that one’s obligation does not extend so far as marrying someone, but it certainly extends much farther than mainstream opinion has it and farther than a number of the comments here have indicated. (And definitely farther than some long term wishful thinking about bettering other societies.)

  6. Peter Smith

    but it certainly extends much farther than mainstream opinion has it and farther than a number of the comments here have indicated.

    Yes, but can you be more specific? And how will you deal with all the consequent problems? How will you obtain consensus for all the necessary measures. We need more than the hypocrisy of cosmetic, feel good action.

    And definitely farther than some long term wishful thinking about bettering other societies

    Once again, can you be more specific? Just what do you think can be done given the increasingly severe constraints on the exercise of American power?

  7. I have only spoken to what seems to me a rather straightforward question of obligation. You don’t ship people who are fleeing dictatorships back to those dictatorships. What the best ways are of honoring that obligation in terms of actual public policy is a separate discussion. We can have it, but it inevitably will be speculative, insofar as none of us is in possession of or has access to the sort of information necessary to craft such a policy.

    I’m actually surprised the first point has to be made. My father understood it when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, which is why he risked life and imprisonment every night on Tel Aviv beaches in the mid 1940’s. [And why he retains a certain contempt for the British to this day.] And the analogy with the Underground Railroad seems not only obvious but intuitive.

  8. Peter Smith

    I have only spoken to what seems to me a rather straightforward question of obligation

    That kind of vague generality just does not suffice.
    1) what if this encourages large numbers of others to follow suit? Is it really such a good idea in that case? There are two kinds of consequence
    a) local society becomes over burdened as it is not able to assimilate large and rapid influxes. Think of housing, services, schools, job scarcity and civil unrest.
    b) the best drain out of the source societies, impoverishing them of scarce talent. Is that really such a good idea if it only perpetuates the causes of the problem?
    2) What of the even larger number of people left behind to endure increasingly severe hardship?

    If you admit to obligations to those fleeing hardship are you not also admitting to much, much greater obligations to the multitudes left behind. But, conveniently, you don’t adress that. So I must seriously question your motivations.

  9. All of this is addressed by my first paragraph. But if you feel like questioning my motivations, go for it. No skin off my back.

  10. Peter Smith

    All of this is addressed by my first paragraph.

    That is a non-answer, The general wish expressed by you has clear and easily understood consequences(ask the French). And they can have a large effect on how we pursue our obligations. So if one wishes to advocate for obligations one must also carefully consider consequences and mitigating strategies. You are dodging this issue but it should not be dodged in a serious conversation.

    My last paragraph is the most compelling argument and you make no attempt to answer it.

    f you admit to obligations to those fleeing hardship are you not also admitting to much, much greater obligations to the multitudes left behind.” They face even greater suffering. Are not their needs greater? Are then our obligations even greater?

    Once you claim to be guided by obligations you must grasp the thorny nettle of the totality of your obligations in this instance. Otherwise I will be justified in worrying about your motivation.

  11. I don’t think people should be sent back to dictatorships from which they are fleeing. The policy implications are complicated, and we don’t really have the resources to discuss them in any depth in a forum like this. [I suspect the best policy will be one that is far more liberal than the one we have now, but significantly short of what is commonly referred to as “open borders,” but that’s a pretty wide policy space.] That’s all I’ve said, and nothing about it demands any sort of excavation of my motivations.

  12. Chavez dead?! But Trump’s lawyers assure us that he has masterminded a plan for world domination through voting machines in Europe! There is evidence for this everywhere, but in secret! No witnesses allowed to enter a court on threat of some legal sanction like perjury! How unjust the justice system is, it won’t allow unfounded claims of fraud! What’s the point of appointing Republican judges if they won’t decide the election for the world’s greatest showman… er, president…. SAD!

    Okay, a bit of low humor. But if the US remains under the rule of law, it does so now by the skin of our teeth, That actually changes everything. Our current immigration policies are the result of one man’s impulsive desire to please the fans of his ‘Reality TV’ White House – who now are also convinced that they could only lose through deployment of massive fraud – Hugo Chavez! George Soros! Nancy Pelosi! Lex Luthor! Anybody but the American people.

    Ah, me.

    When we deal with problems of the sort the OP discusses, we should bear in mind how fraught the moment is. Refugee and immigration problems arise from decades of poorly accomplished efforts at de-colonialization and globilization, failure to come to grips with the intransigent nature of certain cultures and embittered tribal rivalries centuries old, and in South and Central America, a long history of neo-feudal politics frequently supported by US involvement, both open and covert/

    Well, that’s the larger picture in broad strokes. Does knowing this actually get us anywhere in terms of the OP’s issues. Perhaps only in that it assures us that such issues are going to remain with us for many decades to come.

    There should be rational laws unraveling these issues to at least the benefit of the greater number oif those involved. But Donald Trump’s fans remind us that these can only be established pulling legislators’ teeth – so not likely.

    So we are left with the question the OP presents us with – How well-meaning participants and activists in this mess can develop strategies and tactics for dealing with what unjust laws we have so far?

    As to the specific solution the OP offers – ‘sham’ marriages – I personally think such are only tactically practical for certain individuals. As a strategy, it fails because it ultimately over-complicates the lives of those involved.

    Establishing sanctuary zones (including whole cities) while duking it out in the courts seems more effective in the long run. But the surest path would be to win over hearts and minds of the electorate. As the recent election has shown, that will not be easy. But the surest way to delegitimate unjust law is, paradoxically, through law itself.

  13. s. wallerstein

    Let me be clear: I don’t believe that the author should be sent back to Venezuela or that people should be deported to dictatorships in general.

    However, your comparison of Venezuela with the Holocaust (that is, with Nazi Germany) is a bit forced. Maduro is a dictator, he has assassinated, tortured and jailed opposition figures, but he’s not committing genocide. He has also mismanaged the Venezuelan economy, causing malnutrition, etc., but once again, he is not Hitler. By the way, I speak after having read summaries of the latest UN Human Rights Commission report on Venezuela, which is headed by ex-Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, who is a creditable figure for me.

    I lived through 10 years of the 17 year Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. As in Maduro’s Venezuela, opposition figures were assassinated, tortured and jailed. However, it was not Nazi Germany. I myself participated in human rights activities, was once beaten by the police during a street demonstration and at another time arrested by the police for participating in a demonstration. If that had been Nazi Germany, I would not be here to write about it.

    I don’t mean to minimize the suffering and oppression of the Venezuelan people under Maduro, but it’s not in the same league as what the Jews went through under Hitler.

  14. Anonymous paints a painful picture of human beings drowning in bureaucracy. Peter rightly points out that satisfying individual needs can lead to even greater community dislocations and suffering. Daniel is correct in maintaining that unthinking individual acts can amount to ‘crimes against humanity’. There is validity in each perspective and it is not possible to completely resolve these conflicts in any one direction. Ultimately, all 330 million of us have to just muddle along… constantly seeking a more perfect union.

    The American experiment is still intact after roughly 244 years of learning and innovation. Huge bumps in the road indicate that ‘progress’ is exquisitely difficult and unpredictable: the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union struggled to survive for about 12 years, replaced by the Constitution of the United States in 1789. A Civil War allowed the Union to dispose of the problem of slavery, but official racial discrimination continued for another 100 years. All this, against the backdrop of numerous conflicts, including two world wars, lead to the USA being the last one standing, the sole superpower, so-called.

    Whether our success is deserved or whether it was just luck, I don’t know. My theory is that the key is found in the Bill of Rights. Individual rights coupled with individual responsibility have lead to our ‘can-do’ attitude: millions of individuals acting in their own and their community’s best interests have produced a very flourishing society. Preserving our system of laws thus trumps the complaints that individuals might have along the way. We are both protected and empowered by our laws!

  15. There’s a difference between being a refugee and an immigrant; and a further difference between being a legal and an illegal immigrant. As a consequence, different laws apply.

    Refugees are covered by the Geneva Convention, immigrants mainly by local laws. It’s not entirely clear to me if Anonymous’ brother came to the US as a refugee, but as far as I understand, he didn’t. He got a student visa F-1, in general given to people with strong ties to their home country who intend to return. In other words: a student visa F-1 is not meant to be permanent. I don’t know how the application process works, but I assume Anonymous’ brother had to prove these ties with Venezuela and his intention to return to get his student visa.

    Anonymous’ brother overstayed his visa and risked being deported. I agree that from a moral point of view, his deportation would have been problematic – to put it mildly – but I don’t see why the laws governing a student visa are “unjust”. The authority that terminated the visa of Anonymous’ brother almost certainly didn’t know he actually wanted to stay – if he had mentioned it during the application process, he wouldn’t have received the visa.

    Anonymous mentions F-1 visa students are not allowed to work and calls this “harsh”. This may be right, but in some paradoxical sense it’s also a form of protection. Without this restriction, clever companies would start to import “students” from all over the world to work in the US for wages undercutting local wages. Is that “justice” ?

    I’m not questioning the moral or legal right of Anonymous’ brother to live in the US, but I don’t think laws are unjust because student visa come with restrictions.

    Also, I’m ill at ease with the comparisons with the Underground Railroad or the situation of the Jews in the 1940s. Under the Geneva Convention people would almost certainly get refugee status if they came from a country where their ethnicity is enslaved or exterminated. The situation in Venezuela is very bad, but not equivalent to slavery or the Holocaust.

    Anonymous’ brother could have applied for refugee status, but under the Geneva Convention, coming from a country “lacking economic opportunities and with high rates of violence” is, in itself, not enough to get refugee status. What counts is the fear to be persecuted because of religion, nationality, political conviction etc. People applying for refugee status have to give convincing arguments that their fear is real. That creates huge problems. How do you prove that men in masks pointed a gun at your older brother’s head, and tried to kidnap your mother, because of reasons related to religion, political conviction etc.? But it creates huge problems for the country where people apply for refugee status, too. How are you going to find out if the stories of the applicant are true? How do you check that a refugee who claims he’s persecuted because of his homosexuality, really is gay?

    Mistakes are made, sometimes with terrible consequences for the applicant. But I’m not sure they are caused by unjust laws, and I don’t know if a sham marriage in these cases really is a “conscientious rebellion” from a moral obligation to oppose unjust laws.

    “My best friend has been under a pending asylum process for more than five years with no progress.”
    This is absolutely inhuman and unfortunately too common all over the world. Five years is too much. I’m all in favor of conscientious rebellion in these cases.

  16. Peter Smith

    Dan has made much of our moral obligations to tender help to refugees while refusing to go beyond generalities. I agree on the intent and base this on Jesus Christ’s famous statement ‘that whatsoever you have done for the least of these you have done for me’.

    But we need to look a little more closely at the demands placed on us by moral obligations(sincerity, capacity and consideration of unintended consequences).

    The first is one of sincerity. Are we selective in the way we meet our obligations? Do we turn away the smelly aggressive beggar but help the pretty young beggar? Then we are not sincere. Do we reserve our help for only certain portions of the population? Then we are not sincere. Is our help only occasional, as the whim takes us? Then we are not sincere. Is it a form of posturing or social signalling? Then we are not sincere.

    Taking on such moral obligations is a hard and demanding journey and most people don’t have the strength, stamina, commitment or sincerity for it. But then it must be said that even occasional, selective and insincere help does add to the grand total of help and there is some benefit. The downside of such help is that it creates the wrong kind of culture that jeopardises effective help.

    Secondly it must be remembered when considering such moral obligations that there is an implied qualification. We are only required to act insofar as the action lies within our reasonable capacity, when all things are considered. For example, when Jesus Christ asks if we took in a stranger it is understood that we were not expected to take in the 100 strangers on our doorstep since that would far exceed the capacity for help that an individual could offer. Turning our homes into squatter camps is just plainly not reasonable and nobody benefits.

    Now what is true for the individual is also, by extension, true for society. The moral obligations of society extends as far as what is reasonably within the capacity of the society. It is rather obvious, or so one would think. This means of course that any discussion of our moral obligations to refugees must consider the capacity of society to meet these obligations. It is rather obvious, or so one would think.

    Thirdly, there is the question of unintended consequences that both the individual and society must consider. I soon found that beggars far and wide were traipsing to my front door because the word had spread that I was considered a soft touch. This was distressing to my family and a not inconsiderable strain on my wallet. Since I am the only Catholic in the family this created internal strains.

    Now in the same way, society has to deal with a host of unintended consequences, as Angela Merkel discovered when a million Syrians descended on her doorstep. Germany is still struggling with the consequences. But I do admire Angela Merkel for her sincere conviction and political courage.

    So in conclusion, any discussion of moral obligations of these kinds must be based on sincerity, must consider capacity for meeting the moral obligations and must consider the potential for unintended consequences. I make much of sincerity since the dirty secret of American politics is that nobody gives a damn about the white trash underclass who vote Republican and are stuck in unending, grinding poverty. All the while woke liberals get shiny medals for attending to fashionable causes such as the LGBT, abortion and refugees. Such insincerity is enough to make one puke.