Missouri Roman Catholic Bishops to pols: Curb your anti-immigration talk

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralUS Presidential Election 2008* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

19 Comments
Posted January 30, 2008 at 6:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Words Matter wrote:

I await the New York Times editorial deploring this violation of church-state separation.

January 30, 8:21 am | [comment link]
2. Katherine wrote:

Don’t hold your breath while you wait, Words Matter. We’d hate to lose you.

So, it is the opinion of Missouri’s Catholic bishops that the United States has no right to legally enforce its sovereignty at its borders, and that law enforcement within the country may not enforce the country’s laws.  Thanks a lot, bishops.

January 30, 9:12 am | [comment link]
3. Larry Morse wrote:

Their humanitarian posture is admirable. On the other hand, their undertaking to control politics is what happens when a church forgets, once again, the necessity to render to Caesar those things which are his. LM

January 30, 9:42 am | [comment link]
4. Dave B wrote:

There is no one making anti immigration speechs. There are people making an effort to prevent people from becoming criminals by illegally entering the USA.

January 30, 9:44 am | [comment link]
5. Charles wrote:

There are many people who believe the Creeds, both Anglican and Catholic, who believe that current immigration law is unjust and unChristian.  Of course, #2, the bishops believe that the US has a *right* to legally enforce its sovereignty at its borders, but they, like me, believe that allowing immigrants into the country doesn’t threaten its sovereignty!!!

January 30, 9:58 am | [comment link]
6. libraryjim wrote:

American immigration laws do need reform (e.g., an expanded ‘guest worker’ program and streamlined path to citizenship for those already in the system), but the answer is not ‘open borders’ nor is it to turn a blind eye to those who come into the country illegally, breaking the laws of the country, and flaunting them while here.  My dad has become quite the activist against illegal aliens after seeing how they have taken over his neighborhood in South Florida.

How about American Bishops to Mexico: reform your laws to make it easier for your people to want to stay home and become productive citizens there?

January 30, 10:13 am | [comment link]
7. Philip Snyder wrote:

I am not anti-immigration.  I am very much pro-immigration.  I am anti-illegal immigration.  When you entry this country illegally, you put yourself in a very bad position where you are open to exploitation by every unscruplous person you meet.  You cannot avail yourself of the legal protections that citizen and legal immigrants have. 

Do we need to reform the immigration laws?  Absolutely!  But the solution to laws that need reform or even bad laws is not to disobey them and disregard them, the solution is to reform them.  Make the case to the American People and work through the system. 

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

January 30, 10:18 am | [comment link]
8. Hal wrote:

#4, just a clarification on immigration law as it currently stands, illegal entry into the United States is not a crime.  It does subject the person to deportation, but that’s a civil proceeding.

January 30, 11:21 am | [comment link]
9. Hal wrote:

Whoops, I mis-spoke.  Illegal entry is a crime; illegal presence is not.  Bizarre distinction, but one the law currently recognizes.

January 30, 11:25 am | [comment link]
10. magnolia wrote:

charles,
i am not sure where you are located but here in texas and phoenix the illegals from latin america are certainly threatening our sovereignty. they come over the border and have their babies on the doorstep of clinics and voila! their babies are now US citizens and are entitled to free health care and all sort of benefits. that really happens in arizona. in texas we get plenty of illegal criminals, one of whom shot and killed a police officer in houston last year. they send their children over the border to attend our schools daily and of course free lunch is included. we have to print and voice everything in spanish so that they don’t ever have to learn english. there are reportedly 12 million of them here and that is enough to impact our society and in my humble view that means sovereignty. but just try to go into mexico illegally from their southern border…they will throw you in jail. why is it that every other country gets a say on who comes in but us????

January 30, 1:04 pm | [comment link]
11. the roman wrote:

Yea..we get a lot of that “it’s the reconquista!” here in Texas. Just wish now I had taken 8th grade Spanish more seriously. Let’s calm down please.

January 30, 1:52 pm | [comment link]
12. Ouroboros wrote:

Oh, dear Heaven.  Like the “Palestine” debate, this issue has been clouded by decades of deliberate misinformation, such that it’s almost impossible to have a rational discussion about it anymore.  Let’s try to get back to some first principles, shall we?

1.  There is no constitutional right to immigrate to this country, period.  While we can argue about the wisdom of such a policy, we need to all be aware that despite rhetoric about the U.S. being a “nation of immigrants,” it would be perfectly permissible for Congress and the President to enact a law, tomorrow, ending ALL immigration except for humanitarian reasons.  Such a law would be 100% constitutional.  While no one is arguing for this, it is important to realize that, a fortiori, it is perfectly constitutional to insist that our current laws limiting and controlling immigration be observed.

2.  Immigration’s purpose is to benefit the receiving country, not the immigrant per se.  There is no moral obligation to receive immigrants.  Our largely liberal immigration policies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were driven by OUR need for people to settle the West and work in our growing economy.  Again, while we can debate how much immigration we need today (a lot, a little, a medium amount) can we please get back to the basic idea that immigration decisions are to be based on what benefits the U.S.?

3.  It is very arguable that unchecked, unfettered illegal immigration has deprived American citizens with low education or intelligence of good paying jobs.  The “immigrants do the work Americans won’t do” can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, if immigrants increase the unskilled labor pool so much that they depress wages in certain sectors.  Let’s face it, not everyone is born to be a brain surgeon.  There used to be a place in American society for the man with “just” a high school education.  He could work as a porter, a janitor, a day laborer, etc.  and make enough to buy a modest 1100 sq. ft. house in a tract area and put food on the table.  This is largely no more.  One of the groups hit hardest by illegal immigration are unskilled African-Americans.  They are being squeezed out of jobs that used to pay a living wage, often losing them to illegal immigrants.  Is this fair or just or right, that Mexican illegals should deprive black American citizens of decent unskilled jobs?  Once can’t even honestly discuss this anymore without being called a nativist or racist.

4.  It is perfectly acceptable to expect immigrants to assimilate, i.e., adopt American culture and become loyal Americans.  Many illegal immigrants have no loyalty to this country.  They do not try to learn English; they fly the Mexican flag; refer to Mexico as “their country” (as in, “I’m going home to my country next week”); and sometimes refer to “retaking” parts of America.  This is disturbing, but why should we be surprised?  When we allow people to flout our laws, they are not likely to respect our nation.

5.  “Immigrants help the American economy” may or may not be true, but it has no place in the discussion of ILLEGAL immigration.  If I break into your home, but clean it and cook you dinner, are you magically going to let me stay?  Does it somehow make my entry lawful or proper or right?  Should I be able to lobby for legislation allowing me to stay in your home simply because I got into it in the first place?

We need to de-addle our brains about this issue and start again with first principles.  Only then can we have a meaningful national discussion about immigration.

January 30, 3:08 pm | [comment link]
13. Katherine wrote:

#5, if you disagree with current immigration law, the right thing to do is to work towards changing it, not to simply ignore it because you don’t like it.

January 30, 3:36 pm | [comment link]
14. Words Matter wrote:

I don’t know, Katherine, you might want to lose me, since I’m pretty much with Charles and the roman on this. I’ve done this discussion to death, so am not going too deep again, except to say it really isn’t the end of American culture (is there an “American culture” apart from immigrants?) and yes, I live in Texas, in a heavily hispanic part of town. 

While I would agree that getting a handle on illegal immigration is generally a good thing, whatever we do, could we do something that works.  People are coming to this country for a reason and it’s not primarily to get health care or schooling. They are looking for jobs and a relatively safe environment. Is a wall going to keep them out? Well, it will keep out the hard-working folks coming here to help their families. Some it will, but will it keep out the drug-runners?  Where there’s a will there’s a way.

But looking beyond the legalities and even the practicalities, where in this debate are our souls?  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and I think a little holy fear is in order.  What do secure borders profit me if I lose my soul? 

Personally, I don’t want to stand before the Lord of the Universe and have him ask me why I was grasping and greedy when He was so generous with me. He put me into a fabulously rich land in a family that valued hard work and education (values a lot of illegals also hold).  Everything I have came from the hand of God; shall I stand here grasping it, concerned that children get health care and education? Matthew 25 folks.

January 30, 8:16 pm | [comment link]
15. John Wilkins wrote:

The RC bishops are right on the money.  The pols are using immigration as a scapegoat.  Although there is no “right” to immigrate (although NAFTA might have a lot to do with the dislocation of lots of Mexicans), blaming immigrants for political problems that are, really, matters of economic policy, is morally wrong. 

I have no problem with sending violent criminals away.  But for the Roman Church, a Mexican is still a Human Being, worthy of dignity.  Its in the same category as abortion - they can say their piece. 

There should, of course, be complete reform.  One that rewards those who are here legally; that does not criminalize those who are illegal; and still gives those honest workers who have been here a long time some recourse to citizenship.  It’s not an easy policy to find but the fact is that the easiest way to distract from real problems is to hate someone else.

January 30, 8:44 pm | [comment link]
16. Words Matter wrote:

Its in the same category as abortion - they can say their piece.

Well, no, it’s not in the same category. While there are moral principles involved in the immigration debate (as I said above), we can debate the specific goals of a just immigration policy and the means to achieve those goals. 

The murder of an unborn baby is always a grave evil.

January 30, 9:26 pm | [comment link]
17. Ouroboros wrote:

As I said, majorly addled thinking here.

No. 14, I’m sure your heart’s in the right place, but please spin out what you’re saying to its logical end.  If our souls are endangered by not admitting people to the wealth of this country, then shouldn’t our immigration decisions be weighted to admitting the poorest of the poor?  They would benefit most, after all.  That means we should end all Mexican immigration and admit Haitians, Malawians and Burkina Fasans.  Even the poorest Mexicans are quite well off compared to those in the countries I mentioned.  But no one talks about this—the “immigration debate” is largely a debate about admitting millions of Mexicans and other Central Americans.  Why should this be?  Why should they be at the top of the list?  Simply because they’re closer?  This disconnect illustrates that the issue is not really one of sharing our wealth with the poor, but a neighboring country feeling itself entitled to violate our sovereignty by offloading their poorest and least educated onto us, and we being too hidebound with white guilt and fearful of being called “racist” to do anything about it.

January 31, 3:54 pm | [comment link]
18. Ouroboros wrote:

Oh, and one more thing.  It’s fashionable to proclaim that one is against “illegal immigration,” while simultaneously supporting a “path to citizenship” or “adjustment of status” (boy, that’s a euphemism if I ever heard one) for the millions of people illegally here.  I’m sorry, but if one is in favor of that, one is in favor of “illegal immigration.”  Allowing 13-20 million people who are here illegally to suddenly become legal by legislative fiat sends the message that the law is no law, that breaking of the law will be rewarded, and will surely encourage others to do the same.  That is precisely what happened after the 1986 amnesty.  It is like saying one is against “bank robbery,” but will pardon all existing fugitive bank robbers and allow them to keep whatever they stole.

January 31, 4:18 pm | [comment link]
19. magnolia wrote:

you said it well ouroboros, thanks. and btw, i don’t ‘hate’ illegals, but neither do i want to pay for them. don’t ya think it is a bit funny that the richest person in the world is a mexican citizen?? there is something truly wrong with that. and still that country sends out flyers to their people giving them tips on how to successfully cross our borders…
beyond that, it is not a free ride to come over. i don’t know for sure but have heard it can cost up to $2500 to cross. if they are so destitute, how are they getting that cash?
the money they make don’t drive this economy-they send most of it back home to mexico, so words matter please feel free to send your hard earned cash to the mexican gov’t. i prefer to help our poor who are here legally and truly deserve my help.

January 31, 5:11 pm | [comment link]
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