Agonizing in Arizona – A Pastoral Pondering on Immigration Policy

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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….

62 Replies to “Agonizing in Arizona – A Pastoral Pondering on Immigration Policy”

  1. I am endlessly amused that providing health care to all Americans was labeled as fascism akin to Nazi Germany by some who are now defending the requirement that Arizonians now carry around proof of their citizenship lest they be hauled away for crimes against their country….but such is American politics.

    We are all humans. Our Christian charity can not be limited to human demarcations of “citizenship.” I agree with this post that there needs to a thoughtful discussion about how to best deal with real economic concerns that communities face — which is just as much a problem of American employers paying immigrants under the table as it is the illegal immigrants themselves. I just hope that our Catholic voices in this debate our tempered by our belief in the equal dignity of all of God’s children whether they were born in this country our not.

    I am also glad that leaders in the Church are weighing in on this issue.

    1. I think the amusement comes from the simplifcation of what conservatives and liberals want. It seems clear that Conservatives, though wanting perhaps less government DO see a role that is proper to govt. THings like national defense, and internal security, defending life. As for liberals, they perhaps see more of a role for government but have limits too, just dfferent ones. Inconsistency is one of the “strange beauties” of the human person 🙂

      1. Yes I agree “the immigration issue/s” are complicated and everyone has an opinion.

        However, the Arizona legislation allows suibjective discrimination which is unconstitutional.
        If my constitutional right/s are violated and not respected every other citizen’s right/s are violated.Thereby, Setting a legal precedent for subjective discrimnation (meaning there are no objective criteria to determine “a reasonable suspicion”). It is dangerous to set this type of case law and it challenges the validity of the Constitution of the United States.

  2. Immigrants ARE welcomed. But one who enters the country illegally or who remains here after the period for which they have been lawfully admitted is not an immigrant. He is an alien, an illegal alien, as a matter of law and definition.

    But the answer to the problems of immigration and illegal aliens really does not have anything to do with this country, the United States. This is a problem not only here, but all over Europe. Even Mexico has an “illegal immigration” problem, hence its extremely harsh and strict immigration policies, much harsher than anything enacted in the United States.

    No, the answer to this problem has little to do with the destination country. Rather, the real answer lies with the home countries. The answer lies with the home countries because that is where the REAL PROBLEMS are. Conditions must be improved there. If Mexico or some Central American country is a hell-hole, the answer is for Mexico or that country to stop being a hell-hole.

    And if people run away, if all the good, hardworking people of those home countries abandon those countries, who does that leave behind to fix those countries? Who does that leave behind to make life better there? Simply becoming a leech off of some other country is no answer. That is not real charity. It only makes things worse. It makes things worse here and it makes things worse there.

    People abandoning their countrymen to corrupt government and drug cartels is not charity, even if they do send some remittance checks back every now and then. The answer is to reform those home countries. That is the real charity.

    And all this acrimony and political fighting over what to do in the destination country, such as the United States, only deflects and diverts attention from having to consider what the real problem is — the criminal corruption of places like Mexico. There is absolutely NO reason that Mexico cannot be a thriving and prosperous nation what with its good and hardworking people. Instead it is a Third World economic basketcase that has now become a welfare dependent of the United States. That hardly promotes human dignity. The answer is not for the people of Mexico to come streaming into the United States in order to compete with our own lower income class for scare jobs. How does that help poor Americans who are thereby deprived of employment? Rather, the answer is for the people of Mexico, for example, to rise up and overthrow their corrupt system and rebuild their political-socio-economic system.

    If they want the help of the United States, financial or otherwise, to reform those home countries, we should be all for that. But simply having people leave those home countries to go leech off of others merely perpetuates gross violations of human dignity, human rights and decency, in those home countries. Migrants have a moral obligation to their countrymen too to stay home or go home and fix the problems at home.

    1. Pope Benedict on migration, press interview during his flight to the United States

      Question: There is enormous growth in the Hispanic presence in the Church of the United States in general: the Catholic community is becoming more and more bilingual and almost bicultural. At the same time, there is an increasing anti-immigration movement in society: the situation of immigrants is marked by forms of precariousness and discrimination. Is it your intention to speak of this problem and to ask America to give a warm welcome to immigrants, many of whom are Catholic?

      The Holy Father: Of course, I will be speaking about this point. I have had various ad limina visits from Bishops of Central America and also from South America, and I have seen the breadth of this problem, especially the serious problem of the break-up of families. And this is really dangerous for the social, moral and human fabric of these Countries. However, it is necessary to distinguish between measures to be taken straight away and long-term solutions. The fundamental solution is that there should no longer be any need to emigrate because there are sufficient jobs in the homeland, a self-sufficient social fabric, so that there is no longer any need to emigrate. Therefore, we must all work to achieve this goal and for a social development that makes it possible to offer citizens work and a future in their homeland. And I would also like to speak to the President on this point, because it is above all the United States that must help these countries to develop. It is in everyone’s interests, not only these countries but of the world and also of the United States. Then, short-term measures: it is very important to help families in particular. In the light of the conversations I have had with Bishops about the main problems, it appears that families should be protected rather than destroyed. What can be done should be done. Of course, it is also necessary to do everything possible to prevent precariousness and every kind of violence, and to help so that they may really have a dignified life wherever they may be. I also want to say that there are many problems, much suffering, but also such great hospitality! I know that the American Bishops’ Conference in particular works closely with the Latin American Bishops’ Conferences with a view to necessary aid. Besides all the painful things, let us not forget the great and true humanity, the many positive actions that also exist.

      1. Thanks for adding these points to the discussion. THat people feel they HAVE to come here to be free and to find work is a huge part of the human problem involved.

      2. Bender, what an intelligent, common senseical reply. I couldn’t of said it any better myself. B-R-A-V-O.

      3. Bender, what an intelligent, common senseical reply. I could not of said it any better myself. B-R-A-V-O!!!!!

    2. Bender, while it could have been put a little more charitably, I agree wholeheartedly. I cannot imagine anyone not thinking that 20 million illegal immigrants does not satisfy our obligation to help. How much would be enough ?
      I would really like to see our bishops team up with Mexico’s and address the REAL problem : the government of Mexico. That would be truly prophetic and charitable.

      Monsignor, I love your articles and you are a terrific writer. But if you have had any extensive pastoral experience with Mexican Catholics, you know that many are poorly catechized and have problems with Church teachings, marriage in particular. Yes, they are good people. But let’s not harbor a romantic “oh they are saintly folks” mentality. They are not any better Catholics than the ones we have already, and even more poorly catechized.

  3. I think there tends to something missing in the debate over illegal immigration. We talk about keeping them out, but not about keeping them at home.

    I agree that the US needs to more better secure its borders and more effectively manage immigration. However, we also need to address the reasons that people come here illegally. We would do better to advocate for and provide support for economic opportunity and social justice than to just throw up a fence.

  4. Msgr Pope,
    I agree with all 10 of your points. Liberals will still say we are racists. I couldn’t get past the first 2 paragraphs of Archbishop’s Dolan’s post. He seems to once again be ignoring the important adjective: illegal. The Arizona law is no different than current Federal law. Illegal immigration is a crime. The police still have to have probable cause. The people of Arizona have simply taken a intolerable situation into their own hands because their Federal Government has failed them. As to language, everything you say is true. But we have not had to accommodate any other immigrant group in our history by having bilingual public forms, notices, signs, employees etc, and I might add Mass readings. This is what people resent.

    1. I’m not an expert in immigration law (as Msgr. Pope points out, it is dizzyingly dense), but from what I understand, being in the country illegally is an administrative violation, and is not part of the criminal code. It is against the law, but not in the way many assume.

      As for accommodating Spanish-speakers, while it may be true that in the public services arena there have not been accommodations for other immigrant groups in history (which may or may not be the case – I don’t know), that is simply not true with regards to the celebration of the Mass. This is what Italian, German, Polish, etc. parishes were/are for. Moreover, Pope Pius XII noted (in Exsul Familia, I think) that people have the right to be ministered to in their own language. We have no more right to Mass celebrated in English than Latinos have right to Mass celebrated in Spanish. This is the Catholic Church, not the American Catholic Church.

      1. Good point about multi lingual parishes and parishes that are language specific. The Pontifical College Josephinum, created 1888, was made Pontifical to protect it from the Irish bishops. The Josephinum was a seminary for German speaking men to be priests in German speaking parishes throughout the US until WWII. Time irons itself out with language among the succeeding generations.

      2. I think your distinction is a proper one Therese. I might add that what parishes can also do, even as they offer ministry in Spanish, is to assist by providing English language instruction. This was a common feature of the immigrant parishes of the early to mid 1900s

      3. One way to rid ourselves of the “different languages for different audiences” is to attend the Tridentine Mass. That way, you can go to Mass anywhere in the world and have it be the same language, and all tongues will be on the same page.

  5. I agree with Bender that we need to pay attention to the Pope and his wisdom about migration. I suspect a great number of immigrants will agree with the Pope. Many of these immigrants are hard working and religious people. The main thing going against them when they reach this country is our racism and similar fears (will they invade my neighborhood, my church?) When we see immigration as a problem -with the help of the Media who love to keep our heart pounding so that we keep watching- we open the door to hate and xenophobia. I think that it would be a different story if instead of us Catholics being familiar with the ‘statistics’ of the supposed economic burden immigrants are, we were to be more familiar with the statistics of how the Catholic Church in the US has been able to show growth thanks to the many immigrants from Africa, Asia and Latin America – statistics which I suspect will make other leaders more creative and take the opportunity to reach out in charity to immigrants -which the Pope does not forbid –and Msgr Pope supports.

    ‘Seek first the kingdom of God’, and that will inspire us anew for solutions in charity. But some leaders prefer to separate issues of faith from issues of state. In politics it has become OK to hate your opponents.

    1. I like the phrase you used in you comment: “the Media who love to keep our heart pounding so that we keep watching” So true.

      I think it is also true that while we often mention the “drain on social services” that immigrants make, we fail to mention the contributions they make to the economy. Their contribution to the labor pool in this nations is great as I mentioned about. Further, they are consumers who buy our products and thus contribute to the local economy. Further, they pay sales tax and so forth.

      1. I have an experience of helping one family through the experience of obtaining legal status. The first generation did not speak English and obtained lower-paying jobs. Their children attended public schools, quickly became fluent, got higher paying jobs that their parents and have begun a new cycle with their own children. They have expectation that these children will go onto to college and have even better jobs. Within three generations, these “poor” immigrants will have grown families of great potential and means. They will become the ones who PROVIDE support for those in need (via their church, adding to the tax base, etc).

        I have personally experienced great generosity from those who had very little. It was an obvious source of pride for the members of that first generation to invite me to join them at their dinner table even though there resources were thinly stretched. They wanted to give, and that sentiment definately carried over to the new generations. Hard working people with generous spirits can only be assets to our communities.

  6. Notice that neither Abp Dolan nor anyone else has been able to surface an excerpt of the new law which is unjust or immoral. All they are doing is riding the current of media-hyped stereotypical generalities. The law only allows action to be taken against illegals if they are guilty of some other crime, which first caused them to be addressed by law enforcement officials.

    1. More of the media heart pounding that Maggie mentioned above. They love a good fight and rationing information sometimes helps the media to keep us fighting.

      1. I found a very complete compendium of papal teachings downloadable on PDF form. It is chronologycally arranged. The News Media will never cover this material 🙂 Pope Benedict is towards the end.

        Also, a very old quote from Jesus -who is a very sure role model- in case there is not much time to read to get informed on Catholic thinking and teaching:

        “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink …. As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me” (Mt. 25:35-40).

  7. I have worked with Hispanics since 03, and can testify to the insanity of the immigration laws.

    I agree that Mexico is a disaster. Anyone who has traveled there understands this. It is open warfare and the cartels are creeping further north into the US each month. Couple that with numerous illegals living beneath the radar and we are headed for a huge domestic problem. Legal or illegal, persons can only be pushed so far before there is revolution.

    Here is the irony. Immigrants come here for a better way of life, that can only be had through the rule of law. Laws are ignored to have workers. And, immigrants complain about “unfair” laws. With no stability in the system, the parish life is less stable because families are less stable.

    In my diocese 4 of the 5 top parishes for baptisms are Hispanic.

    1. As to your last point, we can only give thanks for Catholic imigrants to this country. With the huge decline in Mass attendance among “native” Americans, we would surely be in critical condition by now were it not for immigrants. In this diocese some of the larger Latino parishes had over 60 baptisms at the Easter Vigil alone this year.

      1. My Mexican immigrant faithful ask me if I am going to the Mexican Independence celebration. I say no, I am an American and will celebrate July 4, not Sept 16. But, I do process with them in the streets with Jesus in the monstrance or Our Lady of Guadalupe through whom ALL evangelization will occurr, Ecclesia in America JP II

  8. Monsignor, well said. As for Archbishop Dolan, I am very confused. I mean, seriously? All this language for an immigration law that already exists on the Federal Level? I didn’t hear this kind of language used against the government mandated health care package. It is unfair to Arizonans and to the lawful immigrants who spend their hard earned money in trying to achieve proper status.

    Where were our Bishops who were supposed to say, “You cannot force a people to purchase a good they do not want”

    The USCCB and other individual bishops speaking apart from the USCCB, interpret the Catechism to their own suiting. The CCC says nothing of embracing people who violate the already existing law of a state in order to live in that state. It does however say that if these people create a burden on a state, the state has the right to act in accordance, which it has done.

    Everyone talks about the rights of the immigrants…but they never talk about their being here illegally. Nobody addresses the crimes they are involved in or the fact that they are useful idiots helping the party of death to stay in office. Why doesn’t the USCCB tell the Mexican bishops that they need to tell their faithful not to cause such burdens on a state?

    70% of Arizonans who have every right to speak on this issue are for mandating this Federal law on a state level because the government will not do anything about it. The governor stated on FOX News yesterday that she has written numerous letters to the administration to try to get them to act, but with no response. What do you expect lawmakers to do when their constituents are being terrorized by illegals and are breathing down their necks?

    Phoenix, I hear, is on it’s way to becoming the kidnapping capital of the world, second to Mexico. SOmething has to be done and if the Federal Gov’t didn’t step in the time, I am glad for the governor of Arizona taking a stand for the people who live in her state.

    I am an immigrant. I came here the right way. It took my family and me a while to get fully settled and to get our papers in order, but we respected that law although we think it ought to be changed. Nonetheless, we respected it. That should count for something when immigration discussions are on the table. Have these people respected the laws of the country by sneaking in and causing havoc? Mind you, this law only allows the police to ask a secondary question about immigration status after a moving violation or traffic citation has been made.

    I lived in Texas for a few years, it taught me to be responsible as an immigrant otherwise, it would be hard for me..and it worked. And because of that, I can speak firsthand.

    1. THanks for your personal story. I think you are right that the Catechism very much balances the issue between calling a nation like our to be open and generous but also calling for respect for law and the need for a nation to regulate the matter of immigration for the common good. I wish there were a simple formula but the Church in matters like these can only set forth principles. We clergy must surely articulate those principles but also avoid taking sides in matters where reasonable people will differ as to numbers and ratios.

  9. Virginia is following in the steps of Arizona. Virginia is considering passing a bill that would allow police to stop any person that the police suspect of being an illegal immigrant. As an African-American there is NO doubt in my mind that this will lead to racial profiling.

    Yes, I must agree with Bishop Dolan, if we are not careful history does and will repeat itself.

    We worry about protecting our borders, but let me assure you there are enough problems within the borders that we need to be concerned about. This is the least of our problems. ( for example, weapons, illegal drugs, counterfeit merchandise, human trafficing, and on and on, all of which are coming across our borders).

    1. Virginia is considering passing a bill that would allow police to stop any person that the police suspect of being an illegal immigrant.

      Virginia’s legislative session has already ended for the year, so Virginia is not considering passing any legislation on any topic at the present time. Moreover, Gov. McDonnell has publicly expressed his concerns with the Arizona law.

    2. Well unfortuantely we do have to attend to both problems ad intra and ad extra. Also I am increasingly puzzled as to what is meant by profiling. This word is being pitched around so much that I am afriad it has become a bit of an abstraction to me. At some level the police et al do have to have some criteria to go by. I’m just not sure it is possible to get through life without screening out the data that comes at us all day long. What does “not profiling” look like? It seems anstract to me. To those who say they do not profile at all, I think they are lying. To those who demand no profiling I think they are being unrealistic and they even break their own rule to uncover profiling since they are going to focus on the police and government officials as the “usual suspects.” Are they not engaging in profiling by “limiting the focus” of their vigilance in this matter? At any rate, I can understand that it is wrong to exclusively limit the search for the malefeasant among only one group but to think that there will be absolutely no selectivity in setting a focus is unrealistic. Fact is we all do this a thousand times a day as we navigate a world saturated with data that needs screening.

      1. Msgr Pope,
        While I agree with your sentiment here, and I agree that making judgements based on generalizations from past experience is a necessary part of functioning in life, I have some problems with your statement. People who worry about “profiling” among law enforcement officials are not being hypocritical or unrealistic. They are looking at experience, and are concerned about a group who has great power abusing that power. I am myself a white male, so I have no personal experience of this, but I hear enough stories about African Americans or other people of color being pulled over for DWB (Driving While Black), that I believe it is a legitimate concern. It is why we have rules about probable cause. Even our founding fathers worried about it. I am not sure where the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” originates (please forgive my ignorance- I know I should know-but I actually managed to get through my education without ever taking a government class) but it has been around for a long time. Too many people today want to turn it around and allow police to assume someone is guilty unless they can prove their innocence, which of course is a logical impossibility- you can’t prove the absence of something. (Something for atheists to think about :)) Of course police are going to be more vigilant in a neighborhood that is primarily populated by certain minority ethnic, or racial groups, because experience has taught them that those neighborhood are more dangerous and have more crime in general. But they must never be allowed to assume any individual of any color or background is guilty. Never. And That is what people are afraid of when they talk about profiling. To many people, it is anything but abstract- it is an everyday part of their lives.

  10. For the good of all, the immigration laws that are already in place must be enforced. The process of reform should be slow and well thought out. Reform should have the well being of The U.S. first in mind, then the well being of other nations. But in the mean time, if the existing laws are not enforced, what kind of message is that to send to potential immigrants? I mean, it took my wife and I over a year of RCIA before we were received into the Church. Shouldn’t potential immigrants be required to do the same before being received into the Country?

  11. Sorry Msgr., while I find your musings on the immigration topic fair and reasonable, I tend to read the Archbishop Dolan blog with skepticism. Both Archbishop Dolan and Cardinal Mahony have come out against the Arizona law. But when you see just how one sided and uncharacteristically biased their comments have been, it is fair to conclude that they are “pastorally blinded” to supporting their immigrant rich inner city flocks. Even in Holy Mother Church, all politics is local!

  12. I think the states that border Mexico may have different concerns than those which are futher away. The most recent statistic I’ve read is that there have been 22,700 deaths in Mexico since 2006 from the drug cartel fighting (several times higher than the combined U.S. fatalities in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars). That is a lot of violence. We should not only ensure that we have the capacity and structures to absorb the immigrants, but we should also be working with Mexico to improve its own governance such that it becomes a country in which citizens wish to stay. And if Mexicans are fleeing the violence, it would be sad that our own drug addicted culture is in part cause of this flight. How do we cure our culture of death?

  13. Immigration is a touchy subject in a sense, because at one point any of our relatives or ancestors were immigrants. My own great-grandmother, Angelina, was fresh off the boat from Calabria, Italy, spoke only Italian, and refused to learn English (either that, or she spoke very little and saw no need to learn English). Working in the ER, I’ve seen both sides of immigration – the people who come here for better lives when their countries are so war-torn or poor or both, and the criminals of MS-13 and other notorious gangs/mafias. For the most part, most people are coming here and making an attempt to learn English and become citizens. The few that aren’t are making immigrants and immigration look bad.

    I agree with Bender that in a sense the US cannot save everyone. We’ve got our own country and our own people, and we’ve still got homeless people and our own crime. Something has to change in other countries so that people will stay in their own countries and help them.

    To answer your above question about profiling, that’s an FBI term to my knowledge as well as a police term. It means that a certain type of person that looks and acts a certain way is usually susceptible to a certain type of crime. For example, MS-13 is an El Salvadorean gang. If a police officer was profiling, they could think that anyone of Hispanic descent who looked and acted a certain way was part of MS-13, even if that person was completely innocent. Another example could be how when I mention to friends that I am Italian and have relatives in New York and an actual cousin named Vinny they assume that I know people in the Italian mafia or my relatives are in the mafia. Profiling is not fair at all, especially since a lot of people who are profiled are usually innocent of the suggested crime. Profiling is essentially stereotyping.

    I hope that helps! And thanks for posting something every day!

  14. 1) The Arizona law is almost the same as the Federal Law which requires LEGAL immigrants to carry their green cards or other paper work.
    If any citizen is stopped for speeding or suspicion of an illegal activity we all must prove who we are, via drivers license or whatever.

    2) Bishops should stick to promoting Catechesis in the US where only about 17% of the Catholics attend Mass on a regular basis .
    The US Bishops have not done their job educating cradle Catholics of all ages.
    The blame for lack of Catechesis and lack of Unity of beliefs in our Church mainly is their fault, and the fault of some Priests under them.

    3) Bishops should obey the laws of the land and not harbor ILLEGAL immigrants.

    4) There is nothing in the Catechism which discusses ILLEGAL immigrants. So this interference by Bishops in PUBLIC POLITICS is inappropriate.

    5) Religious leaders should stay out of the Press on things which reflect on the Church because of their personal positions – unless you want more American Catholics to leave the Church based upon your personal, liberal, law-breaking beliefs.
    When you promote law breakers.
    Perhaps American Catholics should quite giving to Socialist Church’s Leaders altogether to teach them a lession.

    5) Each Diocese can send money or whatever to help the poor in other lands to comply with Charity.

    6) Due to campaign promises made to them, Latinos have a tendency to vote Democrat – which unfortunately includes the “Culture of Death” and homosexual marriage.

    7) Legal immigrants are welcome. Illegals are not.

    US Bishops should do their job in the Church for a change, and stay out of Public Politics.
    They will be judged by God based upon the job they do with American souls.

  15. To answer the question on racial profiling. Many immigrants who come from slavic countries or people who resemble “caucasions” enter this country daily unnoticed, ( and yes, they are illegal immigrants) but because they can go unnoticed and blend into the mainstream of society they are not profiled as illegal immigrants.

    Unfortunately, Mexicans and not to mention Haitians can not blend into mainstream America. This is why profiling is dangerous. Unless there is clear evidence aside from someones physical features that they are in this country illegally, this type of identification of a person can lead to legal ramifications.

    While it is true that many immigrants are fleeing there homelands for a better life, Americans encourage this by offering immigrants lower wages and unhealthy work and living conditions. (I’m sure we all are familiar with the problem of migrant workers in CA).

    Of course this is not a problem that is easily solved. I do agree that charity begins at home. We as Americans should encourage other nations to support themselves and help them in this effort. Until we can come up with a solution, human nature will not go without the basic needs. People will continue to flee for a better lifestyle, legal or illegal. The question is what are we going to do about this problem, but continue to answer the call for charity and respects for human dignity. I don’t know the answer.

  16. I like how the new Catechism says that immigrants should “obey the law” of the country they’re in. By definition this would seem to exclude illegal aliens.

    And with all due respect to Archbishop Dolan, I am the great-grandchild of immigrants, but my relatives went through at least some sort of process in 1) entering America legally, 2) getting documented and then 3) assimilating.

  17. Personally I think Arizona’s new law is a great law. We all recognize that we need to allow a better path to citizenship, but since the state can’t grant the citizenship the only way we can protect ourselves is to enforce harsher penalties against all illegal immigrants. We can’t sort the good and the bad until the Federal government acts. Instead of protesting our actions people should be petitioning their congressmen to reform immigration laws. We just want to keep the criminals and drug dealers out of our state.

  18. Sometimes the problem of countries South of the Rio Grande lies in their governments, their laws and customs. I’ve been told that to start a business in the U.S. on average takes about 6 business days – to get permits, register a name, etc. In Mexico, because of more (or more complex) regulations, starting a comparable business takes more than a month. Result: an entrepeneur trying to start a business S. of the border gets discouraged. Not starting the business means that he cannot hire workers for the business.

    Another cause of the violence in Mexico is the consumption of various chemicals by US citizens. Without our demand for drugs, the price of cocaine, heroin, etc. would not be high enough to tempt latin Americans into the drug trade. The USA’s “war on drugs” simply raised the price for drugs on the US streets, increasing the incentive for gangsters on both sides of the border to try for shares of the profits to be made. This has been an ongoing disaster for decades. When will the USA admit the failure, and try another approach?
    US citizens can contribute to both Catholic Relief Services and Concern America; both work toward alleviating poverty S. of the border. But our legal structures, including the “war on drugs” could certainly stand some improvement.

  19. With all due respect and reverence for Bishop Dolan, his essay on this issue is replete with straw men that he valiantly knocks down from the safety of his cloister.

    Like all opponents of American sovereignty he is incapable of distinguishing legal immigrants from illegal ones. He mockingly claims the good people of Arizona are “scared…that the #1 threat to society is the immigrant” while ignoring the alarming spike in murders, rapes, car-jackings, kidnappings, and drug smuggling in neighborhoods overrun by illegal immigrants. He ignores the plight of American citizens (and legal immigrants) who lose the medical services hertofore provided by the hundreds of hospitals (like St. Vincents) which have shut down because a large percentage of their patients (illegal immigrants) do not pay for their services.

    He makes the claim that the law is unconstitutional without knowing the relevant provisions. The law mirrors federal statutes and was carefully crafted to survive all legal challenges. In fact Arizona has won all three recent court challenges to their immigration law changes.

    He seems to reject the Catechisms teachings on the subject in favor of knee-jerk liberal hysterics. By unfairly and unjustly comparing the good and patriotic people of Arizona to the KKK and 19th century nativist radicals, he discredits his own argument and inadvertantly slams the late Holy Father John Paul II who described patriotism “as a love for eveything to do with our native land: its history, its tradition, its language, and its natural features.”

    Lastly, I’d like the Bishop to explain what the Vatican’s own policy on immigration. If thousands of indigent immigrants suddenly pitched tents in St Peter’s square demanding free health care, food, education, and housing, would the Vatican grant them citizenship? If not, how can the Church demand more of secular nation-states than it itself provides?

  20. All US citizens as well as all visitors here legally have not one thing to fear about the new Arizona law!!

  21. With all due respect and reverence for Bishop Dolan, his essay on this issue is replete with straw men that he valiantly knocks down from the safety of his cloister.

    Like all opponents of American sovereignty he seems unwilling to distinguish legal immigrants from illegal ones. He mockingly claims the good people of Arizona are “scared…that the #1 threat to society is the immigrant” while ignoring the alarming spike in murders, rapes, car-jackings, kidnappings, and drug smuggling in neighborhoods overrun by illegal immigrants. He ignores the plight of American citizens (and legal immigrants) who lose the medical services heretofore provided by the hundreds of hospitals (like St. Vincents) which have shut down because a large percentage of their patients (illegal immigrants) do not pay for their services.

    He makes the claim that the law is unconstitutional without knowing the relevant provisions. The law mirrors federal statutes and was carefully crafted to survive all legal challenges. Arizona has won all three recent court challenges to their immigration law changes.

    He seems to reject the Catechisms teachings on the subject in favor of knee-jerk liberal hysterics. By unfairly and unjustly comparing the good and patriotic people of Arizona to the KKK and 19th century nativist radicals, he discredits his own argument and inadvertently slams the late Holy Father John Paul II who taught (in Memory and Identity) that exercising patriotism is an example of fidelity to the Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue which “obliges us to honor our father and mother.” He describes patriotism “as a love for everything to do with our native land: its history, its tradition, its language, and its natural features.”

    Lastly, I’d like the Bishop to explain what the Vatican’s own policy on immigration is. If thousands of indigent immigrants suddenly pitched tents in St Peter’s square demanding free health care, food, education, and housing, would the Vatican grant them citizenship? If not, how can the Church demand more of secular nation-states than it itself provides?

  22. Admitting to almost total ignorance on the current topic, I do have a question. Is there not a particular place in the United States where immigrants come to ask to become citizens (think Ellis Island of old). I mean, what exactly is the MO for anyone wanting to become a citizen? Thanks. Peg

  23. There is nothing in the Catechism about Immigrants? Then I am OK if I do not learn about the issue – right? Is that the rationale? That way of reasoning may work well for the masses but not for the Christians called to be leaders, I think. Our Lord after all did many illegal works of charity, right? The key to this issue is CHARITY first. Then the rest will fall in place and will truly give glory to God, not to the state.

  24. There are two commpeting story lines. One features the hard working immigrant just trying to support his family. The second concerns criminal activity which endangers the first group as well as others. This is a Willie Horton moment for whomever will seize it. When local law enforcement winks at illegal immigration the predators move in big time on that community, and one can see appalling criminality that would sicken any American willing to look. We do not hear of gangs and drop houses in up sacale white areas like Scotsdale. Like most crime waves they affect the poor most, and they need police protection, not avoidance.

  25. It is sadly evident that the good Archbishop has not read the bill. Something as simple as a driver’s license or non-operating ID card will qualify as proof. So if a cop pulls over a speeding car full of dark skinned fellows who can show either drivers licenses, IDs, green cards, etc. He cannot detain them and must then assume that they are here legally even if they do not speak a word of English. It does not discriminate since an immigrant from any country (vietnam, mexico, russia, etc) is treated the same. And as was pointed out above, this law is about checking the status of those who are stopped for other violations. Now can this be abused? Yes, but show me a law that can’t.

    Arizona is bleeding. The drug wars are spilling over onto their ground. Does the Archbishop propose we should send down the National Guard to protect the innocent people, or will that too harass the immigrants.

  26. jj, your link to why conservative etc is a red herring. That author mischaraterizes the law. Ignore him.

    I live in the belly of this beast. I am a lawyer. I have denfended litereally hundreds of illegal immigrants as part of my job.

    None of you know the depth or breadth of the problem here. It is frightening. The average illegal immigrant from Mexico is imbedded with the drug trade and the smugglers.

    The teachings of the Church do not require acceptance of this lawlessness, nor amnesty. It requres the following from B16 on the lane to the United States: “The fundamental solution is that there should no longer be any need to emigrate because there are sufficient jobs in the homeland, a self-sufficient social fabric, so that there is no longer any need to emigrate. Therefore, we must all work to achieve this goal and for a social development that makes it possible to offer citizens work and a future in their homeland”

    Push for the above, for employer sanctions, for the absolute sealing of the border and there will be justice for all.

    1. The depth of the drug trade and other crime with illegals is noticeable. It will become more noticeable with time. In a HIspanic neighborhood in my city, 20 illegal men were deported and the streets were much quieter. All the illegals were involved with crime.

      Yet, there are many good families and I would like to see concrete steps towards normalization for them to stay.

      the real problem as you and a few others have mentioned is Mexico and Latin America. Mexico has incredible potential, but is woefully corrupt. The question is what can be done. As JP II dealt with Communist Eastern Europe so might a HIspanic Pope.

  27. Bender-

    “Migrants have a moral obligation to their countrymen too to stay home or go home and fix the problems at home.”

    What of the parents who have an obligation to provide the basics (food, clothing, shelter) for their children and cannot do so in their home country due to a number of socio-economic constraints? I objectively agree with your points, by and large, but it is awfully hard to look at those in need and expect them to “stay put” until a bad situation corrects itself.

    Most Americans have not been to these countries to see hillsides dotted with “homes” made of sheet metal and children begging in the streets. Most will never see a child suffer from dysentery because of tainted water. Most of us cannot fathom the conditions under which others live. Many I know would have liked to have stayed in their native countries but could not support their families, nor could they rely upon charity and/or foreign support of their state- it was simply insufficient.

    It saddens me when I hear people talk about the economic drain “those” people are on “us,” for when one sees first hand how little others have, they must realize how very much we have here. To me, that sort of talk smacks of a child not wanting to share one of his many toys. I can’t be of the mindset that “those” people stay “there” unless the “there” is better today. To me, it isn’t a loving expectation that others should endure living in squalor and/or danger if there is another option. We need to step it up on our end and THEN maybe we can have a reasonable expectation that people stay in their native countries.

    Thank God for the Church. She makes no distinction between “them” and “us.” In many parts of the world, the Church is the primary and often only resource to meet a host of needs. There should be our example!

    1. Did I say that migrants are a drain on “us”? No. I did say that they adversely impact the low-income people we have in this country, because that is who competes for jobs with many migrants. These U.S. poor are poor too. And there is an obligation to treat them with charity as well, and by charity I mean love of neighbor, not mere welfare handouts.

      Again, if things are bad in a migrant’s home country — and they are bad in too many places — then the answer is to improve the conditions of those home countries. And that job falls primarily to the people of those countries, and not to places like to U.S. to come in like imperialists. We (the U.S.) most certainly should provide assistance, financial and otherwise, to reform the political-socio-economic systems in those home countries — that is a moral obligation that we have — but migrants have moral obligations as well to overthrow those repressive regimes at home.

      If there is a “drain” anywhere, it is the drain of good people from their home countries, leaving those countries even more desolate than before. To use Mexico as an example again, it is all too plain that over the last 20-30 years, when we had the last amnesty, and when immigration has become such a big issue, that things have only gotten worse in Mexico, much worse, not better, thereby causing an even greater exodus of people leaving there.

      I know that it is fashionable to always blame America first, but the United States is not always the bad guy.

      1. I understand and am sympathetic to the plight the poor in our country. I’ve done work with students to help families in impoverished areas, and sometimes, those areas are reminiscent of third world conditions, though that situation is not nearly as dominant as it is in, say, Central America.

        I was really referring to others’ use (both here and in general) of words like “strain” and “drain.” Many make assertions without data to back up their claims, though I am not suggesting you are one of those people. Many talk about the subjects on which you tapped and make broad and misleading statements like, “They’re stealing our jobs.” Perhaps in certain municipalities, job competition between “their” poor and “our” poor is significant, but let’s be real- if the migrant farm workers left, would “our” poor refuse welfare and fill those jobs? Our welfare system has hurt “our” poor more than other countries’ poor have. Let’s also be real in admitting that we like that we don’t have to pay $5/lb for apples and are willing to turn a blind eye to lower wages being paid to immigrants so we can keep our costs low. We can be BIG hypocrites when it comes to immigrant issues.

        When I was in high school and college, I worked at Catholic Charities to help people fill out their paperwork for amnesty. In doing so, their stories of awful events became familiar. Without getting overly political, many times throughout history the US has had a hand in building up those governments the native countrymen are “morally obligated” to overthrow. Our government has been in bed with some bullies and thieves in choosing to support some pretty crazy leaders who looted and brutalized their countries. In many regions, we bear responsibility for helping those left in the wake.

  28. let’s be real- if the migrant farm workers left, would “our” poor refuse welfare and fill those jobs?

    I don’t live in California, so I don’t know. But I do know that too many of my clients, after they get out of jail, because they have a criminal record, can no longer find regular employment. The only work that they used to be able to get was day labor. But now, these former offenders looking to become productive members of society (who include non-Latino minorities) cannot even get day labor jobs because they are all taken by other day laborers who are looking to work off the books, i.e. a high percentage of illegal aliens. YES, if those illegal aliens left, these former offenders would snatch up their jobs in a heartbeat.

  29. Our government has been in bed with some bullies and thieves in choosing to support some pretty crazy leaders who looted and brutalized their countries. In many regions, we bear responsibility for helping those left in the wake

    OK, fine, let’s go along with the blame America first bit — the answer then, if the United States is to blame for installing those repressive regimes, is for the United States to go down there and forcibly remove them.

    1. I’m doing any bit to blame America first, which is always the knee-jerk reaction, that attitude that another is seeking to tear down, pick apart, make America bad. The TRUTH is, in many countries, in our fervor to halt the progression of communism, we supported, militarily and financially, those who tore apart their countries, looted their coffers and oppressed their people. I guess we could debate whether the US supported the lesser of two evils (depending on how one views the greater/lesser evil), but our actions made living situations worse for others in other areas, people we now want to quietly go away. No need to talk blame here- history dictates a chain of events. Now, we are where we are. To say, they now need to do this that and the other (in the name of morality, no less), is irresponsible. We are morally called to help right a situation we helped to wrong. Again, nothing about blame rather responsibility. Did you teach your children that when they made a mess they must clean it up, or do you say, “Hey you were at Johnny’s house- go home and leave that big mess to him.”

  30. With regards to the drug trade, when is the last time anyone in a U.S. Catholic church ever heard about the sinfulness of drug use mentioned in a sermon? Is it not an appropriate topic for discussion? Virtually everyone I’ve known that has used drugs (mostly marijuana) has suffered for it, and yet the mayor of the city I live in is all for legalizing it! It’s crazy–a civic leader! But how can we ever turn this corner if no one is opposing it? Even the local press seems to be pro-marijuana. I had a friend with whom I went through grade school and high school, the same class as me. By the time he was in high school he was dealing drugs. He called me a few years after graduating–the call was from a mental hospital where I visited him. Now I have no idea where he is. And his older brother won’t even say what happened to him–evidently the situation is too tragic to talk about. Another classmate, again grade school and high school, but one year ahead of me, got involved with marijuana and later in life committed suicide. Was there a connection to the drug use? I think there was. But unforunately no one in the U.S. seems to be providing adequate oppostion to drug use. No one is saying that drugs subtract greatly from the gift of life we have been given. The Culture of Death is gaining the upper hand. I think this also holds true in Mexico. There isn’t enough civic and Church opposition there either. What will it take–another apparition of Mary at Guadalupe to break our addiction? I hate to post something that sounds a little shrill…but how can it sound anything but, given the circumstances?

  31. Draw a picture of your country.

    What did you just draw? The borders.

    Now erase the borders. You just erased your country.

    A country without secure borders is not going to be a country for very long.

    Do you find it too difficult to think about or discuss immigration policy?

    Remember: Not to decide is to decide.

    Your country is something very special and worth the effort of difficult discussion and difficult choices.

    If you love your country, make the effort.

  32. Monsignor,

    Here is another topic where we fail to separate the issues which are only marginally related. We have a good example of this when the taking of unborn life is equated with a “a woman’s right to choose”.

    I am 68 and grew up in California not far from the Mexican Border. I was raised in a wonderful largely Hispanic parish and consider myself as much a cultural mix as one can imagine although my heritage is Anglo-French. I am sure that there are those whose opinions arise from ethnic bigotry, but that is not the issue. The two matters are illegal entry into the United States and Arizona’s reaction to the problem.

    Illegal immigration has indeed had a devastating effect on public services, most notably health care and public welfare. The problem lies not with Mexican immigrants but with illegal trespassers and our appalling set of immigration laws, procedures, and an inept (euphemistically labeled) administration and application of those laws.

    Arizona, though their reaction is in some senses understandable considering the attendant problems of illegal entry, has taken a step that borders on the unconstitutional. They have placed the duties of the INS and DEA in the hands of local law enforcement. There is some merit in the criticisms that equate this to the practices of a totalitarian state. Their answer is simply not a solution. True resolution lies in reforming the system and the humane enforcement of strong laws by the proper authorities.

  33. No need to talk blame here

    And yet you are. And what a red herring and non-sequitur it is too.

    “Illegal immigration” is a serious problem all over the world. Including migration from countries that the United States has never had any involvement with whatsoever, and to countries other than the United States.

    Here in this hemisphere, the TRUTH is that the worst places, by far, have regimes that were not “installed by” the United States — Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico to name but three.

    1. You’re talking laying blame, I’m talking assuming responsibility. I don’t believe the US is the root cause of all evil in the world!

      Here’s one immigrant story-
      The woman who helped take care of my children for many years told me about rebels (US-backed) coming into her village with guns and rounding up the young men to fight (or be shot). She hid her teenage son and made arrangements to bring them both to the US for safety. She came here (illegally) and I helped her apply for amnesty and get a work permit. Many would oppose this, citing that those like her are a drain on our resources, but I believe we have a responsibility to those like her.

      I agree that there is a need for immigration reform. We need to have better systems in place to differentiate between people like her and those that come here with ill intent.

      And regarding Mexico- no, the US did not install a corrupt government, but let’s be honest about the situation. The drug trade fuels the corruption and violence, and our citizens are buying their drugs. If we effectively seal the borders, we are only treating symptoms rather than the sickness, and demand will seek another supply. The US needs to do more to deal with our nation’s drug problems. Again, I’m not laying blame, but we do need to look at our part.

  34. I have always liked and respected Archbishop Dolan and still do. However, I think he is being unfair to the State of Arizona and its citizens. They are in danger; they are afraid. Do not they have rights just the same as immigrants? Because they want to remain safe, does that make them anti-immigration? Has Archbishop Dolan read the Arizona law? In my opinion, it is more than fair and goes out of its way so that no one of any color or race is treated unjustly. The people of Arizona, especially the Catholics, are part of the flock just as are the immigrants. Why is it that they are being treated as the enemy by the Archbishop?

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