Caution! This blog is about to heat up with controversy! Arizona and Immigration are the topic.
Archbishop Dolan from New York recently blogged on the issue of Immigration and the recent developments in Arizona. And he did what every good blogger does, he kept it a bit edgy. I am going to excerpt that blog below but would like to make a introductory comments of my own, and, as always, invite your comments.
These comments of mine try to strike a balance.
- I like immigration and think we should allow for a generous amount of immigrants each year. A growing population means a growing economy. It also means enrichment for this country as other cultures join the mix that is American Culture.
- I am quite happy with most of the immigrants coming here. Obviously the vast majority of them are Latinos from Central and South America. I am personally glad that most of them are Catholic and admit that this is an important factor to me. In addition, I find that they have strong family values, a wonderful and strong work ethic and a strong drive to succeed in this land. Here in the parish I have had many good experiences in hiring Latino workers who charge a reasonable prices, do quality work and get it done fast. I have especially benefited from their skills in the area of painting, carpentry, masonry, and general home repair and remodelling.
- I have found great and spirited faith among the Latinos I know in the parishes I have served. In my last parish I had three neocatechumenal communities and the majority of the 70 members were Latinos. They were devout and also enthusiastic about their faith.
- As for the language issue, I found most, except that very old, willing and able to learn and speak English. Even if the parents struggled, their children were fluent English speakers. In reality it is no different that other groups who have immigrated here. They speak the mother tongue at home and ethnic neighborhoods but English elsewhere. Within a generation they are fully fluent in English.
- However, and while I love immigration, it remains true that we as a nation need to attend to security concerns and have the need and right to set legitimate parameters on immigration. I personally urge generosity since we have plenty of room and are rich in resources. But it is legitimate to regulate the numbers and set parameters so that this nation can properly receive immigrants and also maintain the safety of our borders.
- The Catechsim of the Catholic Church strikes a good balance here: The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens (CCC # 2241).
- Some areas of the Country have experienced negative effects from unregulated immigration. Problems include a sudden spike in the need for social services such as schooling, medical assistance, welfare and the like. There are also problems with crime. The vast majority of immigrants (legal or not) are not violent criminals or felons. However, with unprotected borders the true criminal element does find easy access to our country and we must be able to screen out criminals. Hence it is not wrong for citizens to insist that Federal and local authorities protect borders and regulate immigration to some extent.
- Reasonable people will differ on finding the proper balance between a generous immigration policy and legitimate and necessary measures to protect the common good and maintain respect for law.
- Legality is sometimes difficult– While it is unjust for immigrants to enter our Country illegally, it must also be understood that not every one is here illegally in the same way. Some did simply steal across the border. But many others came here legally but have had their legal status expire. Navigating our immigration laws is something that makes even trained lawyers cry. I have personally tried to help individuals I know renew their status and it is surely a bewildering process. It is IRS Law on steroids. Legality is more complicated and difficult than many Americans realize.
- On the other hand people who live in areas that have received large and sudden increases in immigrant populations also deserve our sympathy and understanding as they try to moderate and manage a truly difficult human problem. The vitriol in the recent Arizona case on all sides sometimes ignores the human dimension on both sides of the equation. I am unfamiliar with the particulars of the Arizona Law but am also aware that part of the background in this matter is that the Federal Government has been derelict in its duty to properly oversee immigration. It is no surprise that anger has reached high levels in this matter.
And now a word from Archbishop Dolan. Since it is impolite for a priest to interrupt a bishop I will not comment in red as I often do. The Archbishop speaks well enough for himself. This is an excerpt. The full article can be read here: Archbishop Dolan on Immigration
Here we go again! Anyone who does not believe that “history repeats itself” has only to take a look at the unfortunate new law in Arizona….It’s a supreme paradox in our American culture — where every person unless a Native American, is a descendant of immigrants — that we seem to harbor an ingrained fear of “the other,” which, in our history, is usually the foreigner (immigrant), the Jew, the Catholic, or the black.
So we can chart periodic spasms of “anti-immigrant” fever in our nation’s history: the Nativists of the 1840’s, who led mobs to torch Irish homes and Catholic churches; the Know-Nothings of the 1850’s who wanted to deny the vote to everyone except white, Protestant, native-born, “pure” Americans; the American Protective Association of the 1880’s and 1890’s who were scared of the arrival of immigrants from Italy, Poland, and Germany; the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920’s who spewed hate against blacks, Jews, Catholics, and “forn-ers”; the “eugenics movement” of the 1920’s and 1930’s who worried that racial purity was being compromised by the immigrant and non-Anglo Saxon blood lines; and the Protestants and Other Americans United of the 1950’s who were apprehensive about Catholic immigrants and their grandkids upsetting the religious and cultural concord of America.
And, here we go again! Arizona is so scared, apparently, and so convinced that the #1 threat to society today is the immigrant that it has passed a mean-spirited bill of doubtful constitutionality that has as its intention the expulsion of the immigrant…..
Thank God, there’s another sentiment in our national soul, and that’s one of welcome and embrace to the immigrant…..To welcome the immigrant, to work hard for their legalization and citizenship, to help them feel at home, to treat them as neighbors and allies in the greatest project of human rights and ethnic and religious harmony in history — the United States of America — flows from the bright, noble side of our American character. To blame them, stalk them, outlaw them, harass them, and consider them outsiders is unbiblical, inhumane, and un-American.
Yes, every society has the duty to protect its borders and thoughtfully monitor its population. The call is to do this justly, sanely, and civilly….