Render Unto Caesar: The Church and Immigration

Sometimes the Church’s public face in a given country can make you proud, and sometimes it has to make you a little sick. American Catholics can justly take satisfaction that our bishops were almost alone in beginning the fight against abortion; the Southern Baptist Conference, of all things, at first backed Roe v. Wade, and it took most of the 1970s for our separated brethren to get on board defending the unborn — although they do a yeoman’s share of the work today. In the 1920s, the American bishops’ conference forthrightly opposed the unjust laws mandating eugenics and Prohibition — in the latter case, informing ordinary Catholics that, as St. Thomas teaches, an “unjust law is no law at all,” and need not be obeyed. Bootlegging, I’m proud to say, became a kind of religious duty.

There were also times when our leaders dropped the ball. Indeed, in the sexual abuse crisis, one might say that they grabbed the ball, spirited it out of the stadium, drove it across state lines to escape local jurisdiction, and buried it in a field to hide the evidence from the D.A. In other countries, bishops have been too cooperative with dictators, or too cozy with Marxist guerrillas. But then again, in the Renaissance there were popes who placed entire cities under interdict (no sacraments, not even Christian burial) over issues of crassly secular Italian politics. Christ never guaranteed that our leaders would be wise and prudent.

So it ought not to challenge anyone’s faith, or cause us scandal, when our bishops’ conference or leading prelates take positions on immigration that cut loose from Catholic principles of justice and prudence, and instead wallow around in the stagnant waters of sentimental leftism. Nor should this be used — as some on the nationalist Right are using it — as a pretext to whip up anti-Catholicism, on the grounds that our bishops are flouting some American laws (hiding immigrants in church basements) and misusing their moral authority to undermine others (for instance, promoting amnesties), benefiting mainly Catholic migrants at the expense of a largely non-Catholic America.

But if we want to avoid the charge of “dual loyalty,” which is rightly aimed at those who put their private or overseas affinities ahead of their duties as citizens, we must face squarely the phenomenon at hand: uncontrolled, mass immigration of almost two million, mostly unskilled, people per year into our country — nearly half of them coming illegally. As American citizens, it is our duty to our neighbors — to our fellow citizens who feel the impact of our votes — to use those votes responsibly, in the legitimate interests of the country to which we profess loyalty. We might feel a stronger bond to our fellow Catholics in Mexico and the Philippines than we do to our Mormon or Jewish neighbors; indeed, on a supernatural level, we are more closely bound to them. We might well prefer to marry one of them, instead of an unbelieving American. We owe these Catholic foreigners the respect deserved by every human being, and the prayers that knit together the Mystical Body of Christ. There’s just one little thing we don’t owe them: the duties we have incurred toward our fellow citizens.

Just so, if I work at an ordinary business as a manager, I owe in strict justice certain duties to the owners of the company that I do not owe to random fellow-Catholics. So if I started steering business from the company to less-qualified or more expensive contractors, just because I knew they were solid Catholics (or pro-life activists, or saintly homeschoolers with large families to feed), what I would be doing would not constitute charity but a form of embezzlement — papered over with tribal loyalty and unexamined sentiment.

 

I myself used to be guilty of this sin, and let me here confess it; working at a secular business magazine, I would give out freelance writing assignments to people I thought of, affectionately, as BUCLs — that is, “Brilliant, Unemployable Catholic Losers.” Folks I’d met at Latin Mass, or who wrote for The Wanderer, who needed the money and could do the work . . . kind of. Not very well, and not on time. But I would clean up the mess, and pat myself on the back for performing an act of charity — with someone else’s money.

By engaging in misguided mercies — at the expense of justice to innocent third parties — I was proving my qualifications to serve as a U.S. bishop. I was acting just like those prelates who hide illegal aliens in “sanctuary” churches, and help their children (who, if they are born on U.S. soil, through a sick quirk of American law, are citizens) collect public benefits paid for by the hard-working taxpayer. When bishops lobby for illegal aliens to attend public schools (with cripplingly expensive bilingual programs) and get free medical care, the cost of these goodies doesn’t come out of their diocesan budget. I don’t think our good bishops miss any golf games because they’re spending the money reimbursing native-born, blue-collar Americans, many of whom can’t afford medical insurance themselves.

If we let our sacramental sympathy to the fellow Catholic who might sneak across the border overwhelm our duties to the community where we live — the United States — we are not serving a “higher loyalty.” We are committing a kind of treason. Likewise, when we snicker — as so many Catholics quietly do — that “America is just a Protestant country anyway . . . but we’ll soon take care of that.” I know many Catholics who privately grumble that neoconservatives have hijacked our foreign policy to further the interests of the state of Israel. The same people will turn right around and try to set our immigration policy according to the needs of Catholic parishes: We need more seminarians. We need more faces to fill up our emptying churches — and to help our sleeping shepherds dodge the question of how they lost the flock in the first place.

One out of three Catholics who grows up in America leaves the Church. The only thing that has kept our share of the population from shrinking is mass immigration of uneducated poor people. Their arrival bucks up the numbers, gratifies a deeply dysfunctional bureaucracy, and fills the empty pews . . . for one generation. This influx of “fresh souls” from poor countries lets us pretend that our Church is successfully passing along the Faith, is reverently offering the sacraments, and generally chugging along as it always did. In fact, by losing one Catholic out of three, American Catholicism is collapsing almost as quickly as English Catholicism did under Elizabeth I. Except that we aren’t even being persecuted — and our Spanish Armada didn’t sink. It crosses the Rio Grande, in small contingents, to the tune of around 1 million people per year. “Subsidizing” the U.S. Church with a constant influx of fresh Catholics to alienate and scandalize is no more prudent than paying General Motors to go right on building Humvees for the suburbs.

 

Let me pose a deeper question: Does transferring Catholics from a relatively traditional society such as Mexico to the slums of Los Angeles further their spiritual well-being? Are they really better off moving to parishes run by priests who dissent from Church teaching, in a state with same-sex marriage, a country with legal abortion, and a culture corrupted by Hollywood? The materialist, who sees not the soul but the body, will note that they might find higher-paying jobs — and their children will qualify for a vast array of social programs.

They will also find a flourishing gang culture to which they can assimilate, and a wide array of rabidly anti-American ethnic organizations that will teach them to resent their newfound home and retain a sullen loyalty to the lands whose poverty, corruption, and chaos sent their parents fleeing in the first place.

It might sound churlish to ask this, but we’re all grown-ups here, and we’re fixing the future of our country, not catering a tea party. So I’ll ask it, and I wish I could do it in Spanish. Of all those illegal immigrants and their supporters who massed in the streets a year ago, waving Mexican flags, who work with their Mexican consulates to pressure the U.S. government, I ask: If you love your country so much, why did you leave it instead of fixing it? If you’re so angry at ours, why don’t you go home? Here’s a compass, pointing south . . .

On this point, I have the firm support of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which, after encouraging decent treatment of immigrants, teaches: “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” (2241). Does that include entering illegally, using false documents to work and avoid paying taxes, waving foreign flags, and colluding with foreign officials to undermine U.S. law? If it doesn’t, then immigrants who have shirked those obligations have lost any claim on our hospitality.

At this point, some of my readers will already be shaking their heads, accusing me of xenophobia, even racism. To which I say, respectfully: Talk to the hand. For a change of pace, I’d like to see American bishops (and Mexican bishops) address the fierce nationalism that motivates so many immigrants and immigrant organizations, which drives them to lobby incessantly for the private interests of their own racial groups, and call for the reconquista of one-fourth of America’s territory. What should we call that? Is the tribal groupthink practiced by groups like the one that calls itself La Raza not a form of racism? If not, why not? Just because many members of that given race are poor? As much as I’ve read about the “preferential option for the poor,” I don’t think it gives them a free pass on this issue — and to act as if it does is to dehumanize the poor. To hold one group to a lower moral standard is patronizing, and suggests that they are forever slow-witted children, or loveable, mischievous pets.

If we are indeed to treat immigrants as fully human, as equal moral adults, then we won’t wax hysterical when they face the consequences of breaking the law. If I snuck into Mexico and used false identity papers to gain financial benefits from its citizens, I know I might end up in a jail cell. I wouldn’t expect a Mexican parish to hide me, and sign me up for benefits funded by the local government. The state has its structures and its legal codes, and except where they are grossly unjust, we are expected to obey them. If Caesar has the right to mint currency and collect taxes — and we have this on pretty high authority, I think — then he’s probably also in charge of granting citizenship. If he isn’t, who is? The companies that crave cheap labor? The ethnic lobbies? Our bishops?

Or is someone out there going to argue that American immigration laws are unjust, that we have no right to limit who enters our country and when? If so, then I expect them to apply the very same logic to xenophobic Mexico — and then to Vatican City. Let’s relocate Rome’s gypsy camps to St. Peter’s Square, and grant these “undocumented” the rights of citizens. Then when they form a majority, let them change its laws to suit themselves. Let them “redistribute” the contents of the basilica, giving “preferential option” to the poorest among them. (I’ll see you on eBay; I’ve always coveted those reliquaries…)

Or if you wish to argue that our country really needs some 2 million mostly unskilled immigrants every single year — given that most of our lower-skilled manufacturing and service jobs are migrating overseas — I’ll have to ask you why. Are the poorest Americans so overpaid that we need to bid down the price of their labor? Or are they too lazy and cosseted to work at “jobs no American will do”? (To this phrase, the favorite of the big-business, cheap-labor lobby, I always like to add, “At the wages we’re willing to pay.”) Are the labor and safety laws for which American workers fought for decades so stifling that we need to import an underclass that employers can abuse — locking them in overnight, sticking 16-year-olds at meat slicing machines, sending injured workers for care to public emergency wards?

 

And now I have a question for our immigrants and the lobbyists who “love” them: Why do so many recent Catholic immigrants vote for pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidates? Why are the Latino organizations rallying to the Democrats? Could it be that other issues are more important to them? That voting in their ethnic — let’s be blunt, their racial — self-interest trumps for them the sanctity of life, and of the family? I remember when a bunch of white Catholics acted this way — when they voted in Louisiana for David Duke. I told them, in print, how disgusting I thought that was. When Latinos vote for pro-abortion Democrats to further their racial self-interest they are no better. To treat them as equals is to tell them that.

And to act as good citizens, as honest members of the community that protects our rights and has made possible our relative prosperity, we must seek the best interests of that community — while opening the doors to provide temporary refuge to those who are in immediate danger of death. Not to people simply “seeking a better life.” I could have a better life in Switzerland; does that give me a right to citizenship? No one pretends that the “sending” countries that provide most of our immigrants are subject to mass starvation or persecution. Indeed, as immigration expert Mark Kirkorian reported in his interview for the upcoming documentary, The Promise of Home:

The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants from Mexico actually had jobs in Mexico. They’re seeking better jobs. The poorest of the poor in any society very seldom leave. They don’t have the resources to move.

In an age of terrorism, in a country full of “soft targets” that attracts the hatred of so many around the world, we cannot afford to leave our border unguarded. News reports have shown how narcotics cartels work with immigrant smugglers, to ship in both drugs and dealers. We’ve seen reports of “coyotes” bringing in unauthorized entrants from countries rife with terrorism. As expert on Islamist terror Brigitte Gabriel told the makers of The Promise of Home: “Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hezbollah . . . are working with the MS-13 gang in smuggling terrorists into our country. We know that al-Qaeda is paying between $25,000 and $50,000 to the MS-13 gang per terrorist to be smuggled into our country.” Thanks to our lack of a border fence, al-Qaeda could pretty much swim the Rio Grande any time it liked. Remember that the next time you’re patted down at the airport.

In voting for our country’s “best interests,” we must have a special care for the very poorest among us — the very poorest Americans. But other people have claims as well. If the “preferential option for the poor” means that middle-class people (and ethnic majorities, and even prosperous elites) have no moral claims whatsoever — and may simply be exploited with abandon — then it is no option at all. It is neither justice nor mercy but simple resentment, an ideological club.

Even if they are not as objectively needy as would-be migrants, working-class people have rights and claims under justice. So do — and here I’m going to step on some toes — middle-class people living in the suburbs. So do the rich. Pope Leo XIII actually taught that while we are all called to acts of charity, no one is commanded by the gospel to give away so much that he sinks from one social class to another. Religious vocations aside, the rich are not required to turn themselves into paupers. America need not — in fact, it should not — join the Developing World.

The Catechism also prohibits suicide.

John Zmirak

By

John Zmirak is the author, most recently, of The Bad Catholic's Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins (Crossroad). He served from October 2011 to February 2012 as Editor of Crisis.

  • Mike H.

    John, you’re really firing on all cylinders with this one. It’ll take one or two more readings just to digest it all. Keep up the good, thoughtful work.

  • Sebastian

    This is an interesting Catholic apologetic which, unbeknownst to its author

  • Joe H

    I’m not really sure what the “point” of this article is – it has the quality of a rant. I guess I’ll provide the bleeding-heart, wimpy, weepy pinko objections. Someone has to do it.

    1) The extreme racial and national groups, the “reconquista” groups, are a small minority. This really has nothing to do with the greater immigration issue, but it makes for a great distraction.

    2) Mexico’s laws, whether they are xenophobic or unfair or whatever, have absolutely nothing to do with this problem. I can’t understand for the life of me why people bring up Mexico’s laws as if those of us sympathetic to immigrants are somehow in favor of them. People generally hold the US to higher standards than Mexico. Maybe they shouldn’t.

    3) I don’t know exactly why a majority (but not an overwhelming majority) of Latinos vote Democrat; they probably have similar reasons to the millions of white Catholics that vote Democrat as well. Again, what could possibly be the relevance of this? Illegal immigrants can’t vote. I really don’t care about what the “Latino organizations” do.

    Do we really need to ask why people want to leave Mexico and come to the US? We live in a global economy. Capital is global, money is global, production, trade, distribution, all global – to draw the line at labor is arbitrary and irrational.

    Yes, of course people in Mexico had jobs, but what kind of jobs? How much did they pay? Was it enough to support a family, especially a family in a culture that rejects contraception and abortion in accordance with Church teaching? I think the presence of immigrants here pre-supposes the answers to these questions.

    You suggest Mexicans might try to change their government. A noble suggestion, but perhaps we take for granted the civil liberties we have left in this country. In Mexico the police and the military can make trouble makers disappear. Political activism isn’t a weekend hobby, it can be a life or death matter. Men with families, parents with children, need to think about their needs too.

    I’m not for open boarders and I’m not for total amnesty; but we also have confront the realities behind global migrations. I think our attitude toward this issue, as Catholics guided by love, should be – let the punishment fit the crime. In most cases the “crime” is sneaking into a country to work to support a family. So let’s find a suitable punishment for that crime.

    More to come.

  • Joe H

    Finally, you write:

    “If the “preferential option for the poor” means that middle-class people (and ethnic majorities, and even prosperous elites) have no moral claims whatsoever — and may simply be exploited with abandon — then it is no option at all. “

    Exploited? By whom?

    Forgive me if my priority is not the immigrant family who charges a hospital bill to the government, when billionaires and their corporations are regularly cooking the books, inflating profit margins, ripping off pensions, avoiding paying a single dime in taxes, sucking up BILLIONS in government bailouts, acquiring no-bid contracts for work that is never done, and growing fat off of labor kept cheap and quiet by repressive, totalitarian regimes around the world.

    These are the parasites that are exploiting the entire country, bleeding it dry, conducting their economic affairs with indifference to how it will affect the national economy, since the goal is to maximize profit and share value, not to make Mr. and Mrs. Middle America happy or prosperous or secure.

    You have your priorities, I have mine, I suppose. If the middle class wants someone to blame, they should crook their necks upward, not look down their noses at people who are barely hanging on. I don’t care how bad things get for me as a middle class semi-professional, I will never have a beef with a person simply working and trying to support their family, regardless of where they came from or how they got here. I can’t fathom ever directing my anger or contempt towards people who are simply existing as best they can.

    I can muster up plenty of it for people who are in positions of power in the government and the economy, who manipulate it to satisfy their bottomless lust for personal wealth and power, who contribute far more to the problem than the solution, who are in a position to use their wealth and power for good but use it for evil instead.

  • Tim Shipe

    Joe H.

    All I can say to you brother is Amen, Amen, Amen- you hit on my thoughts exactly- The one thing our friends on the American Right cannot do is allow that the so-called Free Trade Movement in global economic affairs is the chief culprit in all sorts of major human social problems- they must cheerlead the “free market- free trade pacts” no matter the facts on the ground- even Lou Dobbs has converted to the reality that “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. Multinational corporate power is the 800 lb. gorilla, not the two million desperately poor individuals risking all to try to find menial labor to make for a decent life for their families- As Dobbs wrote in his excellent “War on the Middle-Class” the Mexicans have been voting with their feet ever since NAFTA took effect. If we are serious about illegal immigration and for that matter Middle Eastern terrorism- I suggest not turning to sour anti-Catholic bishop and pope types like Mr. Zmirk et al- but instead actually read the documents from the bishops and the comments from the popes, and the social doctrine itself- and in those words of wisdom the advice to go back to root causes of grave social conditions is the constant- the root causes of massive illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America is certainly in large measure a result of the American covert/overt manipulations in the political systems there- any doubts? Read Tim Wiener’s History of the CIA- want to learn more about the Middle East- read David Fromkin’s “A Peace to End all Peace” which dryly details how the British et al set up the Middle East with a facade of royal yes men- and Dreyfuss’ book “Devil’s Game” details how the Europeans and US helped to build up the radical, violent jihadist movement throughout the Middle East as a hedge on secular Arab/Persian nationalist leaders- some of whom were very interested in promoting democracy- Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy!! It is time to clean house here in America- Catholics steeped in the social doctrine are America’s best hope- but I find so few with any measure of power- most Catholics would rather be comfortable in a popular ideology and major party- I would rather be a fool for Christ who actually respects the entire body of Catholic social teachings- God Bless you Joe H>

  • Sally

    Right now our immigration laws make it almost impossible for an unskilled person to legally imigrate. So fine you say, those folks should be here anyway–the meat packing jobs can go to unskilled US citizens. And then when those citizens organize to support better pay and better compliance with safety laws, the meat-packing company can just move the whole operation to Mexico! And then the Mexicans can have those jobs legally–makes perfect sense!

    So I fault the wealthy and powerful of this country who have the means and ability to change things for the common good, but who choose to support their own good. I also fault the ordinary citizen in the suburbs who doesn’t just say, “Illegal aliens are breaking US laws.” But says, “I don’t want those dirty, nasty, Mexicans coming anywhere near me or my kids–unless they are cleaning the restrooms at McDonalds!”

    The Bishops are trying to support the intrisic dignity of every human no matter who or where they are. Perhaps the man beaten by robbers was an illegal, perhaps he was a robber himself, but Christ still held up the Samaritan as a model for us all for his care of that man. We don’t hear about any cross-questioning on where the man was coming from, what he wanted, and nothing about turning over his citizenship papers before he received help.

    Work needs to be done in the US on our own laws and tax codes. We waste plenty of money on our own, even without care for illegals factored in. But I would also think that a wise nation would work with it’s neighbors to ensure that they are properous and well run places also.

  • Todd

    The problem with an essay that fires on all cylinders is that it buries itself in carbon soot. I feel badly for the anti-immigration movement if this is the best they can come up with. Professor Zmirak asks some good questions from the engine components that are actually running. The only problem is that he’s not asking Our Corporate Masters to get the real answers.

    Joe said what I wanted to say, so I’ll leave this post with a thumbs up to him.

  • M. H.

    Mr. Zmirak:

    Thank you so much for your brilliant article! I concur wholeheartedly.

    Please don’t be disturbed by the inevitable “it’s all America’s fault” crowd that respond using overweaning sentimentality instead of reason — it’s the hallmark of the left in this country (some bishops included) and should no longer come as a surprise to anyone.

    That said, the commenter who proclaimed that NAFTA et al. is NOT in the best interests of any country is correct. I consider myself fairly “conservative,” but I am anti-free trade in most instances. It makes things worse everywhere — including in the U.S., where blue-collar jobs are routinely sent abroad. Those jobs are needed here, and as you wisely pointed out, our primary responsibility is to our fellow Americans, not the overseas recipients of our manufacturing jobs.

    Some years ago, I read an article by the incomparable Peggy Noonan, which can be summarized by the following statement: “What does it mean that your first act on entering a country is breaking its laws?” (Article can be found at http://tinyurl.com/8o2qh.) I think that these “adorable” illegals that our bishops and less-cogent fellow Catholics champion at the expense of American citizens should have to answer that question — as should every commenter who takes you to task for you article.

    Those “robber barons” that we should “crane our necks upward” to despise created the job that I currently hold — by using venture capital that could easily have been lost. The people here promoting such class warfare should remember that their jobs were created by these same people they blame for every ill.

    Ah! Now the connection becomes clear. That’s the exact attitude of illegal aliens!

  • Steve LaTulippe

    Let’s examine these point-by-point:

    1) The extreme racial and national groups, the “reconquista” groups, are a small minority. This really has nothing to do with the greater immigration issue, but it makes for a great distraction.

    Maybe these groups don’t matter to you, but they sure do to me. (And I’m not so sure about the “small minority” part.) Besides, plenty of mischief has been created throughout history by relatively small groups of ideologues.

    2) Mexico’s laws, whether they are xenophobic or unfair or whatever, have absolutely nothing to do with this problem. I can’t understand for the life of me why people bring up Mexico’s laws as if those of us sympathetic to immigrants are somehow in favor of them. People generally hold the US to higher standards than Mexico. Maybe they shouldn’t.

    Mexico’s laws have plenty to do with the problem. The Mexican government routinely interferes in the internal affairs of the United States. Mexican embassies provide textbooks to schools (loaded with reconquista propaganda), they lobby for lax immigration laws, and they publish materials advising Mexians on how to evade American law enforcement.

    But the major charge is hypocrisy. The Mexican government constantly whines about US immigration laws, while its own laws are much more arbitrary (and brutal). Before they complain about our laws, they should remove the log from their own eye first.

    (And, just for the record, the Mexican government SHOULD be judged by EXACTLY the same standards as the USA.)

    3) I don’t know exactly why a majority (but not an overwhelming majority) of Latinos vote Democrat;

    Of course you do. The majority of Latinos vote Deomocrat because:

    1. They think the Democrats will give them amnesty.
    2. They think the Democrats will give them legalized preferential treatment (affirmative action) over other Americans.
    3. They think the Democrats will give them more benefits from the welfare state.

    From that perspective, can you blame them?

  • Ben

    to address all the unwarranted assumptions in this essay. Let me just say that if the author believes the Pew Report that a third of all Catholics born in this country leave the Church, then he’s already on shaky ground. The Pew Report is supported by evangelical Protestants, who hope to undermine the Catholic Church. One way they do so is by publishing tainted statistics.

    I’ve really gotten tired of the holier-than-thou evangelical right wingers holding up the constitution along with the Bible and telling us we should reject Church teachings concerning our neighbor, even as they try to meld religion (their version) and politics into a juggernaut that will eventually work to our disadvantage.

  • Bender

    The problem of unregulated immigration — or, more precisely, the infusion of aliens who come or remain in a given country illegally — is much broader than the tightly focused question of showing charity towards foreigners. Overlooked is the question of showing similar charity toward one’s fellow citizens.

    As a criminal defense attorney, I have represented many, many, many non-Latino indigent offenders. When they are let out of jail, people expect them to get jobs and become productive members of society. There was a time when such offenders found work doing day labor or other manual labor. They could then make money legally in order to survive, rather than stealing. But now, with the labor market at that level flooded with the overwhelming influx of illegal aliens, former offenders are not squeezed out of those jobs. To be sure, some of the Latino workers at labor sites are legal immigrants, not illegal aliens, but I would venture to say that most are illegal since a legal immigrant does not have to work off the books and can get a regular job.

    Meanwhile, non-Latino teen employment is lower and lower and lower each year because entry-level jobs like McDonalds are going more and more to all-Latino staff. Indeed, the ability to speak Spanish is becoming a job qualification so as to be able to communicate with the large numbers of workers who do not speak English.

    Meanwhile, the D.C. schools are doing a major rehabilitation project on its school buildings. The District is overwhelmingly black — with a fairly high unemployment rate — but all of the workers on the project (at least those shown in the TV stories) were Latino. The resident black job force is relegated to watching others work at jobs that they could be doing.

    Now, I’m all for Latino employment, but when it turns into segregation, when all your cleaning staff is Latino, when all your retail staff is Latino, when all your construction staff is Latino, and meanwhile other non-Latino minorities are begging for work, then it is a MAJOR problem.

    Moreover, it is a major problem because of the extreme lack of charity that we show, and that these alien and immigrant workers show, for the people of their home countries. To be sure, some of them do send a few dollars back home. But those nations need more than a few dollars each month. They need bodies. They need the physical presence of good, hardworking people to build up the economies of those countries. There is absolutely no reason why Mexico could not have a thriving economy, if only its best workers did not abandon their neighbors in order to come to the U.S. If they stayed home and concentrated on building up Mexico, there is no reason that Mexico could move out of the Third-World.

    Aliens and immigrants have moral responsibilities as well — it is not a one-way street. They have moral responsibilities toward the resident population, and they have moral responsibilities toward their own countrymen. To ignore that side of the equation, to allow them to act like leaches, instead of co-workers, is not charity.

  • Bender

    That second paragraph sentence should be —
    “But now, with the labor market at that level flooded with the overwhelming influx of illegal aliens, former offenders are now squeezed out of those jobs.”

    and in the sixth paragraph —
    “If they stayed home and concentrated on building up Mexico, there is no reason that Mexico could not move out of the Third-World.”

    No matter how many times you proofread pre-post, you always miss something.

  • Lynne B

    I found this article extraordinarily on point. I live in Texas and over the past 30 years I have watched the border move north. It is practically required that Spanish be spoken in most areas south of Austin. In fact, Spanish speaking ability is a REQUIREMENT FOR EMPLOYMENT by our own diocese! I find that to be a total affront to bilingual people whose second languages are other than Spanish! Other immigrants learned to speak English — I did!!

    It is extremely irritating to be subjected to the whims of illegals who refuse to assimilate and want to force the rest of us to adopt their culture! My cultural heritage is alive and well WITHIN MY FAMILY. I came here to become AMERICAN — not to make America like what I left!

  • MJJ

    I find it ironic that some would like to blame our “Corporate Masters” and forgive with out penalty those who would break our immigration laws. The reason they are breaking our laws is so they can have a chance to get the same masters that we already have.

  • Tim Shipe

    The story of NAFTA is one of abuse of the common good by very interconnected high placed Government officials and Multinational Corporate/Banking Speculative Trading Interests- there is a good book by Jeff Faux- “Global Class War” which goes into depth looking at the bipartisan corruption that went on in the US and Mexico in particular- the sleazy Salinas regime and his Ivy League pals- and Clinton/Gore’s strange enthusiastic endorsement of the NAFTA Treaty with no juridical teeth to protect worker’s rights/ American Middle-Class working class employment, and nothing for the environment either- thanks a lot Mr.Environment Gore!

    As a CAtholic I am intimately aware that my God-Given right as a father is to be enabled and to carry through with providing a decent life for my children. If my nation was in an economic depression with no outlet for my skills and desire to work- then I would have rights by God to go wherever I can to find such opportunity- so all of you Catholics who wish to make an Idol of the Market or the human laws respecting borders- had better wake up and do some actual research into the root causes of Mexico/Guatemala et al’s depressed economies- and don’t believe for one minute that the superpower political and economic giant- our United States- is not neck-deep into the politics and the economics of those and many other smaller, weaker states. Take off your patriotic blinders and think as a Christian- want to know how a Christian thinks about such things- then read the Church’s teachings, read the social doctrine, read the papal speeches- and you will be on your way.

    Here is a perfect example on the Action of the State regarding economic matters: Compendium of SD #351 and #352- see my next post.

  • Tim Shipe

    . Action of the State

    351. The action of the State and of other public authorities must be consistent with the principle of subsidiarity and create situations favourable to the free exercise of economic activity. It must also be inspired by the principle of solidarity and establish limits for the autonomy of the parties in order to defend those who are weaker.[733] Solidarity without subsidiarity, in fact, can easily degenerate into a

  • Jim L.

    On the way, and to the tax collector, a Loyalist was confronted by Hyperbole.
    Having listened, the Loyalist turned toward home, prompting Hyperbole to ask,

  • M. H.

    Tim Shipe wrote: As a CAtholic I am intimately aware that my God-Given right as a father is to be enabled and to carry through with providing a decent life for my children. If my nation was in an economic depression with no outlet for my skills and desire to work- then I would have rights by God to go wherever I can to find such opportunity- so all of you Catholics who wish to make an Idol of the Market or the human laws respecting borders- had better wake up and do some actual research. . . .

    Mr. Shipe, since you’ve spoken so bluntly about waking up, please allow me to respond in kind.

    According to your logic, you have no more responsibility to me, and, in fact, probably a lesser one, than to the next illegal alien to cross into my country. And you also have no greater responsbility to your children, their friends, their friends’ parents, etc. than to that same illegal.

    How about this, then? Why don’t you surrender your job to an “undocumented worker” (that’s apparently the PC Police-sanctioned term)? You’ll be doing him, me, your children’s friends’ parents, etc. a great favor since he won’t then come after our jobs.

    Problem solved.

    People who make laws from the dictates their emotions, as you do, are no different than the “Bible and Constitution” fundamentalists you decry. Welcome to the club, sir.

  • David W.

    I think few here would advocate “Open Borders.” I personally could care less what Protestants think about “duality” and any of those Minutemen clowns want to press it they’ll recieve a contemptuous reply. We need sensible Immigration Reform, not borderline xenophobia masquerading as “concern for America’s Security.” I’m not pointing that blast at anyone on here so much, but much of the debate on this issue is shadowed by an alarm about “Whites becoming a minority and that there are too many brown skinned people here.” If there are illegals, and they go to the Church for help (food, clothing what have you)…the priest does not have to and should not have to turn them in. I support the perogative of the Church to not be turned into an arm of the Border Patrol. If I was a Bishop I would get in the government’s face on that one.

  • Joe H

    Hey Bender,

    You write,

    “There is absolutely no reason why Mexico could not have a thriving economy, if only its best workers did not abandon their neighbors in order to come to the U.S. If they stayed home and concentrated on building up Mexico, there is no reason that Mexico could move out of the Third-World.”

    I have a real hard time buying this scenario.

    If you want to accept the labor market as a norm and a moral good, then you have to take the good with the bad. The labor market is now driven by global fluctuations in supply and demand – the same forces that bring you dirt cheap Nikes and other consumer goods also bring you dirt cheap labor from Mexico.

    Zmirak complains that workers who leave Mexico have jobs in Mexico, but that they come here to seek better jobs. Yet here those better jobs are pretty much the worst jobs we have to offer. What does that say about the average job in Mexico, what it pays, the purchasing power it brings, etc?

    I don’t think people risk their lives crossing the desert on foot or crammed into vehicles without food, water or even a decent supply of oxygen for the same reason I might move from Phoenix to LA to get a job that pays another 3 or 4k a year. I don’t think they put themselves in debt to smugglers and gangsters so they can put a down payment on a new luxury sedan. I don’t think they leave friends, family, and community behind because they just want a little extra spending money.

    All of this is why I oppose the labor market to begin with. I would much rather prefer that Mexico, the US, and every country on the face of the earth embraced the principles of distributism.

    As long as it exists, however, it is rational for workers to go where they can earn a wage to support themselves and a family, and irrational to expect them not to.

    They are playing by the same rules as everyone else in the global economy is, the exact same rules that Fortune 500 companies play by. Immigration laws are relics of a pre-globalization era that hinder the natural flow of goods and services in the same way that controls on the flow of capital in and out of countries used to do before they were removed in the 1970s, or in the same way tariffs and quotas do. If you want labor off that list of goods and services, we need distributism and we need it now.

    AND LET ME EMPHASIZE THIS:

    We certainly can’t expect Mexican workers and peasants, the poorest of the poor, to have the power to “save their country” through hard work when they are barely hovering at subsistence level, while the wealthiest of wealthiest Americans, with more power than anyone else, aren’t expected to make a single sacrifice in the national interest, when their blind and reckless pursuit of profits around the globe is hailed and praised as the pinnacle of human civilization, morally defended in the name of freedom and justice.

    I am sick of the working poor and the immigrant, the people with no power, the people simply trying to survive day to day, being held to higher standards than corporate executives and major stockholders, having more of the responsibility for the economic health of the nation being placed on their shoulders. It is either incredibly short-sighted (driven by ideological blindness)or it is just petty and malicious.

  • David W.

    Anyone who has actually studied the history of the Country would see that suggestions they just “do what we did/do” is a laughable suggestion worthy of scorn. I heard the head of the Minuteman Project say they should stay in Mexico and build their own “Mexican Dream” and I was struck by how ignorant and naive that statement is. From Independence to the French Occupation…Santa Ana, Maximillian, Porfirio Diaz, Huerta, Obregon, and the whole PRI crew…one oligarchy/dictatorship after another…do you honestly think a country that has been dysfunctional since the 1500s can just expect globalization to magically clean up its problems? Or that they can just stay home? Have those people ever studied the Hacienda system? The rife corruption in the Mexican government…the instability? Mexican Dream indeed…all they have to do is just be like us, right? har har.

  • M. H.

    Joe H wrote:

    We certainly can’t expect Mexican workers and peasants, the poorest of the poor, to have the power to “save their country” through hard work when they are barely hovering at subsistence level. . . .

    Thankfully, the French Resistance didn’t feel this way! They, too, were poor and “powerless” to save their country from the same sort of ruthless socialist dictators Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, etc. face today. And yet they DID make a difference — as can those south of the border.

  • brendon

    David W. wrote: …do you honestly think a country that has been dysfunctional since the 1500s can just expect globalization to magically clean up its problems?

    But how does this force upon me and mine the duty clean up Mexico’s problems? Especially seeing as how our country has plenty of her own.

  • Jason

    I’d like to start by thanking all participants and asking everyone to refrain from snarkiness. This is a very important issue and those of us who have not studied it at all appreciate a reasonable discussion on the topic.

    One though that occurs to me is that much of the difficulty and resentment on the part of many of us can be removed by changing our policies as regards “free handouts”. No more automatic citizenship, no free health care or food stamps, no more welfare programs. That way, taxpayers won’t feel like we’re supporting an uncontrollably increasing wave of lawbreaking leeches.

    We obviously need to better control immigration for security reasons. And enforcement of labor laws would certainly be a good start, by penalizing employers who hire undocumented workers and who look the other way. This would need to be paired with improved assimilation and expanded working visas.

    Any objections yet? These seem like common-sense measures to me.

  • R.C.

    It’s so easy to have the illusion of a debate, and so hard to have an actual debate. So easy, to radiate heat instead of light.

    (1.) Illegal Immigration violates U.S. laws.
    (2.) U.S. Immigration laws stink and ought to be changed. Ditto for U.S. border security and enforcement.
    (3.) People are morally obligated to help the poor, especially Christians.
    (4.) Poor people in Mexico are poorer than poor people in the U.S. and need comparably more help.
    (5.) The reason for this is that Mexican government stinks with corruption, nepotism, and cronyism, and Mexican society is deeply racist.
    (6.) The influx of Mexican poor to the U.S. depresses wages and increases joblessness for poor U.S. citizens.
    (7.) Terrorists, crooks, and racial radicals are a tiny minority of illegal immigrants, though they are present.
    (8.) Those who oppose illegal immigration because they are bigoted against Mexicans are a tiny minority of illegal immigration opponents, though they are present.
    (9.) There are, however, a lot of U.S. citizens who lack empathy for illegal immigrants; this phenomenon became far stronger in the wake of the Mexican-flag-waving illegal immigrant “marches” of a few years back (one of the more astoundingly foolish P.R. moves in recent political history).
    (10.) The cost of social services to illegal immigrants is high.
    (11.) The benefit of illegal immigration, measured in terms of cheap productive capacity, is high.
    (12.) Illegal immigrants living in the U.S. live a tough life, but not so tough as in Mexico.
    (13.) Non-bilingual education and services are tough on folks who only speak Spanish.
    (14.) People who only speak Spanish will inevitably have a worse life in the U.S. than those who learn English.

    All these assertions (and I think they’re all perfectly true) are being tossed back-and-forth, but there’s little actual debate in this thread. There’s just a “lack of clash.”

    What I mean is: In high-school and college debate societies, a common error of amateurs “debating” amateurs is “lack of clash”: One team says “We should do X,” and the other team says “We should do Y,” …but neither side takes the time to state reasons directly showing the other side’s proposal to be both inferior to theirs, and impossible to do simultaneously with theirs. (Which is the only way to win the debate. As a former judge of such debates, I had sometimes to stop the speeches and warn the teams that if one side didn’t darned well give me a reason to reject the other side’s proposal, I’d adjudicate both sides to have “lost” the round!)

    At present, I could read through every post in this thread, accept its assertions at face value with complete credulity, and (with very few exceptions), I could believe them all without having to believe two contradictory things simultaneously.

    Would anyone like to propose an actual policy? Just a straw-man, if you will. Y’know, something concrete enough to constructively talk about?

  • Senor Doug

    From Independence to the French Occupation…Santa Ana, Maximillian, Porfirio Diaz, Huerta, Obregon, and the whole PRI crew…one oligarchy/dictatorship after another…

    Hey, I just had a idea! Let’s round up millions of people who don’t speak the lingua franca and have no tradition of the rule of law or inalienable rights in property and import them to the US!

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • R.C.

    Jason,

    While I was writing my last post, you were posting yours.

    Thank you for offering the concrete beginnings of an actual straw-man proposal: Exactly what I was asking for, in hopes of more fruitful discussion.

    Everyone Else,

    Jason’s post also reminded me that snarkiness is unhelpful. “Lack of Clash” is a pet peeve, and while I feel the criticism was a valid one and that the tone of my post was within the borders of civility, I fear it wandered, nonchalantly whistling, too close to those borders. Given more coffee or vexation, I fear it might have jumped the fence into snarkland.

    My apologies.

    Respectfully,

    R.C.

  • Bender

    Who saved the United States? Americans.

    How is it that the United States has prospered economically, while other places have not? Because of American hard work. Unlike Europe, where it could be argued that the economy was built on a centuries-long feudal system of the rich oppressing the poor, the United States created their wealth the old-fashioned way — from the blood and sweat of the brows of everyday Americans, not the least of whom have been the poor. People came here in rags 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago, and it is these folks, poor and wretched, who have created the thriving economy that we have, by their hard work. Not by some rich aristocracy oppressing them, but creating wealth for themselves.

    Americans saved the United States. There is absolutely no reason why Mexicans could not have adopted the same economic work ethic and political system to create just as good an economy as we have. They still can. The only ones who CAN save Mexico are Mexicans — every day, common Mexicans. But they cannot do it while cutting grass here or by hanging out at the 7-11.

  • M. H.

    R.C. and Jason:

    Very good points all around. Thank you especially, R.C., for the reminder about “clash.” It was not, under even the harshest reading, lacking in charity or clarity.

    If we, meaning those involved in the earlier discussion, take your 14 assertions as a jumping-off point (btw, I don’t think they’re as argument-proof as you might think, and I disagree with several), I belive the questions become:

    1) What responsibility do American Catholics have toward illegal immigrants; and

    2) Does that responsibility, if any, take precedence over our responsibilities to our families, our American neighbors, and our country?

    Does that sum it up fairly?

  • Bender

    R.C. —

    I appreciate your sentiment, but must we always debate and argue? Must we always have some kind of “clash”? Can we not simply all comment without the necessity of some back-and-forth?

    I’m tired of arguing with folks. I’ve done all too much of it. I do it for a living.

    So, I love you man, but I have no interest in “debating” you or anyone else. Folks can read my comments or zip right past them; they can agree or they can disagree or they can say to themselves, “what a total idiot.” It doesn’t matter to me. But I’m tired of back-and-forth slap fights.

  • Tim Shipe

    To everyone on the side of the article’s author – here is the most important point I have made which seems to just keep getting ignored:

    – I do not want to encourage more illegal immigration- duh- I recognize that having such an influx of desperate immigrants is not good for anyone or for society- it is not good for Mexico, it is not good for the US.

    – The problem is in the conflict over what is really the sticking point- is it the Mexican government working in isolation that is the central problem? Maybe the Mexican people who are clearly not bringing about the economic and political changes they need? Or is the central problem mostly centered here in the American/Mulitnational institutions- both governmental and economic- which would include most of Mexico’s political and business elites as well?

    I’m thinking that the heart of the problem resides in that last bit- I have offered a couple of good books to read- Global Class War, and War on the Middle Class- to wit no one has responded to these suggestions. I have tried to show that the Catholic social doctrine has much to say on many of these topics related to the State’s proper action with respect to the economy- top wit no one has dealt with the extensive quotes from the Compendium. I have also stated that the Natural Law would indicate that any parent has a higher duty to God to try and provide for their children- a duty that is more important than any human law regulating borders- so it would behoove us to look more at the root causes of the economic depression in Mexico and Central America which is the root problem driving many to follow the Natural Law with much less regard for our nation’s border laws- for obvious reasons. Shall we deal with reality, and not the fantasy where the US has been more or less uninvolved in the politics and economics of Mexico, Guatemala and Central America et al? Does anyone want to read Tim Wiener’s book on the role of the CIA in Guatemala etc..- or are you too busy saluting the flag to do some actual research?

    Take this as a challenge- give me some source material, not more of the pure opinion with no reference to anything Catholic or to authors who have spent time laying out their facts. I’m angry, you’re angry- the question is whose anger is righteous and whose anger is based on some incomplete understanding? I will leave it to the outside parties to decide since those of us actually engaged in this debate are too spirited at the moment!

  • Joe H

    Bender,

    Your argument is ahistorical, and in some places, doesn’t make sense to me.

    You ask,

    “How is it that the United States has prospered economically, while other places have not?”

    There are so many answers to this question, many of which do not involve hard work or gumption. But of course historical answers, or cultural answers, are all dismissed as excuse making. Mexico’s different history, it’s different culture, it’s different place in the global economy – all of this is unimportant, right? For, as you write,

    “There is absolutely no reason why Mexicans could not have adopted the same economic work ethic and political system to create just as good an economy as we have. They still can.”

    They should just intrinsically see how they can all magically come together, work hard, and have a prosperous nation rise out of the dust. A whole nation can just one day “adopt a new work ethic”. Is this to be taken seriously? Is there one example of this ever having happened in history? Was America “saved” by a bunch of people who thought one thing and then, the next day, in an act of spontaneous collective will, decided to do the complete opposite? Really? That’s what happened?

    Maybe it is unreasonable for you to hold Mexican workers to standards that most people don’t hold the most highly paid American executives to – that is, to put the long-term interests of their country, which they may never benefit from in their lifetimes, ahead of the prospects for immediate economic improvement. When a major corporation outsources, downsizes, and sends share values soaring, it is all hailed as economic wisdom. When a major corporation tears up a factory in the US and ships it to China to cut labor costs, it is again seen as economically rational and smart.

    When a Mexican worker comes to the US to look for a better job to support a family, though, this is evil, this is lawlessness, this must be stopped at all cost. His rational economic behavior is a crime, and no one is going to remove the controls on the flow of labor in the way they were removed on the flow of capital.

    We don’t mind exporting our values, our McDonalds and our Nikes and our Hollywood movies to every corner of the globe (and pissing off Muslims and everyone else in the process) but we complain endlessly when some poor people don’t demonstrate immediate and unconditional loyalty at a level that most native-born Americans can’t even be bothered to display.

  • Arturo Vasquez

    It’s kind of hard not to be snarky when the rhetoric behind this essay is way over the top. It’s something that I have said before: it’s bizarre to read what white conservatives write when they are sure than no non-white people are reading it. Well, I read it, and every single boogeyman that the racist (yes I will use that term) pundits invoke in this country was conjured up to be used against our own hierarchy. So Inside Catholic encourages Catholics to be obedient to the hierarchy of the Church. Except when it comes to killing people in pointless wars. Or talking about people like human beings and not sub-human criminals waiting to hatch in the barrios. Neoconservative Catholics are so interesting that way. We have to accept the judgment of the Magisterium. Except when it tells us to be nice. Like I said, it’s very hard not to be snarky.

    I will agree, the immigration system is broken in this country. Also, in the history of Mexico, immigration has been a social safety valve that has let the government off the hook down there, in collusion with U.S. imperialist interests. I have very little sympathy for undocumented youths who come here and commit crimes. My family never did that, and no one forces you to gang bang. But I would also ask why every restaurant employs only immigrants, or why you won’t see a non-Latino in the fields here in California. Would read-blooded Americans be willing to do the same job, just as well, and for the same amount? Big business doesn’t think so, or if it does, it does nothing about it. It’s a broken system, but too many people benefit from it. And I seriously doubt that if we gather up all the members of the “brown horde” ready to re-take “Aztlan” next week that everything is going to get better in the trailer parks and ghettoes of America. Who benefits, really?

    And it wouldn’t hurt you Anglos to learn another language. Everyone in Europe knows more than one.

    Anyway, it would be nice if Catholic pundits checked their rhetoric a few times before they go shooting off at the keyboard. And as for accusing the hierarchy of treason, if the author is correct and immigration is the only thing propping up the numbers of the Church in this country, he will have to forgive the bishops for not turning their contributing flocks away at the church door. As you say, the Catechism does forbid suicide.

  • Jason

    OK, I think most of us understand the motivation for Mexicans to cross into America. The situation in that country is not something we (the average American) can change. Nor can we undo what Tim Shipe’s sources accuse our previous leaders of having done in terms of meddling in those countries affairs, putatively bringing them to this state.

    What can/should we do now in terms of having a constructive dialogue on this and having sensible policy recommendations for our leaders, both civic and ecclesial? Many of us are not and will likely never be CEOs of major conglomerates, nor will we hold high office. But then again, some of us may. Either way, I freely admit I need a clearer understanding of the issues involved.

    I’m not sure I need to better understand what went on in Mexico during the Nixons Administration. However, I know I need a better understand of NAFTA, the push for bi-lingual education and whether those who support immigration in principle also support the free benefits we give to everyone, regardless of their citizenship. Discussion, instead of “gotcha”?

  • R.C.

    Bender:

    I love you man, but I have no interest in “debating” you or anyone else. Folks can read my comments or zip right past them; they can agree or they can disagree or they can say to themselves, “what a total idiot.” It doesn’t matter to me. But I’m tired of back-and-forth slap fights.

    Back at ya! But…when I asked for “clash” I didn’t mean “slap fights” in the sense of folks who’re mad at each other.

    The picture I have in my mind is the talks about religion that I used to have with my conservative-ish/orthodox-ish Jewish friend in high-school. These took place over pizza (sans pepperoni, sadly, as he was keeping kosher), with Coke to drink (he favored Diet Dr. Pepper, about which I agreed with him that it was the only Diet soft drink that didn’t taste exactly like licking a shag carpet). These debates were entirely friendly, respectful. As we grew to know each other’s favorite arguments and analogies, we started to have a kind of affection for them despite the fact we each found the other’s arguments or analogies unconvincing. As soon as he’d go with the “Jesus is just a nice guy” routine, he’d start to grin, because he knew C.S.Lewis’ trilemma would be the next thing out of my mouth. I then knew (and smiled about knowing) that the next thing he’d say would question whether the Gospel picture of Christ was accurate or a later accretion…and so on.

    But note that this was possible because we each knew what the other was asserting to be true, and we had positively located the contradictions between the two, and focused on making arguments that, if true, would prove the truth of the matter.

    So in this thread, I’m not complaining that we aren’t sufficiently pissed-off at each other! Far from it!

    But for the talk to be edifying, more information needs to come out of it than went into it. Some kind of proposition needs to be either adopted or disposed with.

    Hence my request for a concrete proposition. I could say to my friend: “You ought to become a Messianic Jew”; he’d roll his eyes and say, “Okay, and maybe I could also be an Authoritarian Anarchist while I’m at it!” and we’d be off to the races.

    Similarly, if someone here would just propose something like, “We should grant automatic U.S. citizenship to all illegals currently in the U.S. on condition that they pay a $500 fine and that they provide information leading to the arrest of the ‘coyotes’ who brought them in” …why then we could all pile on like some front-yard game of kill-the-man-with-the-ball, giving our reasons why that brilliant/ridiculous proposal will/won’t fly.

    (Of course, now that I say that, I recognize that I should put my money where my mouth is and propose something myself. I’ve painted myself into a corner, haven’t I? D***it!)

  • M. H.

    [quote=Tim Shipe]I do not want to encourage more illegal immigration- duh- I recognize that having such an influx of desperate immigrants is not good for anyone or for society- it is not good for Mexico, it is not good for the US.[quote=Tim Shipe]

    Tim:

    You’ll understand if, in such statements as “If my nation was in an economic depression [Ed. note: –caused not only by bad policies such as NAFTA, but primarily by corruption, crime, and socialism–] with no outlet for my skills and desire to work- then I would have RICHTS BY GOD [emphasis added]to go wherever I can to find such opportunity,” that one might think you were pro-illegal immigration.

    [quote=Tim Shipe]The problem is in the conflict over what is really the sticking point- is it the Mexican government working in isolation that is the central problem? Maybe the Mexican people who are clearly not bringing about the economic and political changes they need? Or is the central problem mostly centered here in the American/Mulitnational institutions- both governmental and economic- which would include most of Mexico’s political and business elites as well?[quote=Tim Shipe]

    NAFTA should be abolished, no question. It’s terrible for America, it’s terrible for Canada, and it’s terrible for Mexico. Once that’s solved, and we get out of the ruthless, corrupt politics of Central America, I have a feeling that “evil America” is still going to be the bad guy in your estimation. Please tell me I’m wrong, because I’d love to think that you felt a responsbility to American citizens.

    [quote=Tim Shipe]I’m thinking that the heart of the problem resides in that last bit- I have offered a couple of good books to read- Global Class War, and War on the Middle Class- to wit no one has responded to these suggestions.[quote=Tim Shipe]

    My speed-reading skills are a bit out of date, so you’ll understand that I haven’t had time to order, received, read, and digest these books during the course of this discussion.

    [quote=Tim Shipe]I have tried to show that the Catholic social doctrine has much to say on many of these topics related to the State’s proper action with respect to the economy- top wit no one has dealt with the extensive quotes from the Compendium.[quote=Tim Shipe]

    I could quote lots of scripture, papal encyclicals, etc. out of context to prove pretty much anything I wanted. I believe you are principled enough not to have done this, but until my speed reading IS up to snuff, I’ll just have to investigate and come to my own conclusions.

    [quote=Tim Shipe]I have also stated that the Natural Law would indicate that any parent has a higher duty to God to try and provide for their children- a duty that is more important than any human law regulating borders- so it would behoove us to look more at the root causes of the economic depression in Mexico and Central America which is the root problem driving many to follow the Natural Law with much less regard for our nation’s border laws- for obvious reasons.[quote=Tim Shipe]

    The U.S. economy is suffering because of Central American immigration. Shall we start pointing the finger at Mexico? (See http://tinyurl.com/2snhnb.)

    More to follow.

  • M. H.

    [quote=Tim Shipe]Shall we deal with reality, and not the fantasy where the US has been more or less uninvolved in the politics and economics of Mexico, Guatemala and Central America et al? Does anyone want to read Tim Wiener’s book on the role of the CIA in Guatemala etc..- or are you too busy saluting the flag to do some actual research?[quote=Tim Shipe]

    That, my friend, is unnecessarily snarky, but given my own lack of charity in the previous post, it’s probably deserved. Please accept my apologies for having been uncharitable re: your job. But in reply, I don’t know whether Tim Wiener’s book would be of interest. I can’t abide anti-American screeds disguised as historical books, but I give you my word to at least check out its reviews and try to keep an open mind.

    [quote=Tim Shipe]Take this as a challenge- give me some source material, not more of the pure opinion with no reference to anything Catholic or to authors who have spent time laying out their facts. I’m angry, you’re angry- the question is whose anger is righteous and whose anger is based on some incomplete understanding? I will leave it to the outside parties to decide since those of us actually engaged in this debate are too spirited at the moment! [quote=Tim Shipe]

    I would be happy to send you my personal e-mail address for further discussion. Also, if you would like book recommendations that address my concerns re: immigration, I would be delighted to send them, provided you will approach them with the same open-mindedness with which I will approach Mr. Wiener’s book.

  • Pansy Moss

    Arturo Vasquez wrote: It’s kind of hard not to be snarky when the rhetoric behind this essay is way over the top. It’s something that I have said before: it’s bizarre to read what white conservatives write when they are sure than no non-white people are reading it. Well, I read it, and every single boogeyman that the racist (yes I will use that term) pundits invoke in this country was conjured up to be used against our own hierarchy.

    Arturo,

    I have often felt the same way reading these articles. The line I bolded especially hit home.

  • Steve Skojec

    Good piece, Mr. Zmirak. Very thought-provoking. (Pretty reaction-provoking, too, by the looks of things.)

    I wrote something up along these lines a while back that never went to print. It’s less well-formed than Mr. Zmirak’s piece, and I suppose it amounts to more of my own inability to understand why our bishops and the social justice crowd seem to be ignoring the peril that unchecked immigration poses to the health of our nation. (If you’re interested, click the globe link next to my name.)

    I don’t know enough about the situation to propose a long-term solution, but I do know that the massive surge of illegals crossing the border has to stop. If you’ve ever spent any time in or around border towns, or even border states, you know how serious this problem is. And like it or not, with illegal immigrants comes a substantial amount of crime, drugs, etc. The reconquista is alive and well in places like Texas, and it is happening in a de facto fashion in states like Arizona, where as many as 4,000 illegals cross the border every day.

    Add to that the fact that the Mexican government publishes pamphlets instructing illegals how to survive the desert and enter the United States safely (http://tinyurl.com/57pt57), or that Mexican military patrols have been entering the U.S. and at times firing on our border patrols or taking captives (http://tinyurl.com/55pf8c), and also that there are an estimated 18-20 million illegals already in the U.S. (http://tinyurl.com/4jcjr), it seems clear that what we are facing is more of an invasion than an immigration problem.

    By 2050, 1 in 5 Americans will have been born outside the U.S.(http://tinyurl.com/yovaoy), and the Hispanic population will reach 29%. This is significant in terms of voting blocks, particularly to Catholics, because immigrants from third world countries tend to vote for those with the most liberal social welfare policies (which, often enough, coincide with the most liberal social policies in general, including life and sexuality issues.)

    The poverty in Mexico is real, and I’ve seen it. I’ve done missionary work to assist evangelization in impoverished, remote Catholic areas being targeted by Pentecostals, Mormons and other sects, and I also helped coordinate the transport of supplies to a medical mission in rural Michoac

  • M. H.

    Steve Skojec wrote: But the burden can’t simply be shifted to the U.S., and as long as we facilitate this parasitic relationship, where is the impetus for the Mexican government to help its own people?

    Good post, right up to the last paragraph. Government, whether it is America’s or Mexico’s is only and always a necessary evil. The question should then be, “Where is the impetus for the Mexican people to help themselves by changing their form of governance and creating economic opportunities there?”

  • JH

    I am still tad amazed that Catholics quote a person like Mark Kirkorian. He hangs with Anti Catholics and has a radical agenda. Illegal Aliens are for him a side show. He is for the radical agenda of reducing the population of the United States to something like 150 million people. I would love to have a discussion on that and how Catholics are being used by these folks.

    That being said. The Propents for Immigration reform and the bill the Bishops backed last year are not Open borders people and not for for just letting everyone in

    For people breaking the law there were a ton on the American side. We have to do soemthing with the people here. People that are of families of mixed legal status especially children. There are concerns about economics, the welfare of these people, the prevention of them being explotied, security and everything else.

    The people that opposed the legislation last year and the year before forget that under it millions and millins would be deported. THat they would not have been able to meet the requirements. Lots of hardship stories but ti wouold have happened.

    No the aim of those that opposed the Bishops and opposed immigration reform were to stop any discussion at all cost. We saw that last year.

    As for racism. Well I should suggest that the people that oppose imigration refrom do a better job policing their own. That was sorely lacking last year

  • jh

    “If we let our sacramental sympathy to the fellow Catholic who might sneak across the border overwhelm our duties to the community where we live — the United States — we are not serving a “higher loyalty.” We are committing a kind of treason. Likewise, when we snicker — as so many Catholics quietly do — that “America is just a Protestant country anyway . . . but we’ll soon take care of that.” “

    This is outrageous. I rarely hear people saying this. However because I backed and fought for Immigration reform I was called a traitor and a Quisling countless times.

  • jh

    “And now I have a question for our immigrants and the lobbyists who “love” them: Why do so many recent Catholic immigrants vote for pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidates? Why are the Latino organizations rallying to the Democrats? Could it be that other issues are more important to them? That voting in their ethnic — let’s be blunt, their racial — self-interest trumps for them the sanctity of life, and of the family? I remember when a bunch of white Catholics acted this way — when they voted in Louisiana for David Duke. I told them, in print, how disgusting I thought that was. When Latinos vote for pro-abortion Democrats to further their racial self-interest they are no better. To treat them as equals is to tell them that. “

    LEt me say that I am White Catholic Louisiana guy and I recall that horrible time when he ran. Many of us conservatives worked hard against him

    THe situation is quite different. First there was the rising cross over to the GOP. That is untill 2006 after the jokes and conspiracy theories got too much and we lost huge hispanic support in the elections.

    Rush Limbaugh said I recall we should not “pander” to hispanics. Needless to say our worse loss was among Hispanic Evangelicals that are with Conservatives on 80 percent of the issues. The leaders of those fols were in Denver this last Sunday by the way. They were demostrating for the traditional understanding of the family. That was not noted on this site for some reason but it was coming together of Hispanic Catholic and Evangelical leadership.

    There is a caricuture of Hispancis and Latinos. In fact many are for pretty much for tough policies. However they got pretty offended they were all being lumped toghter because they did not endorse a deport them all big and small policy and salute the flag.

  • R.C.

    I regard the following phrase as slanderous, and therefore a sin requiring confession and repentance, but more foundationally, merely false:

    It’s something that I have said before: it’s bizarre to read what white conservatives write when they are sure than no non-white people are reading it.

    I think everyone here assumes that non-white, non-conservatives post and read here, on a regular basis. But more to the point, specifically Hispanic persons (who by the way are generally regarded closer to “white” than to “black” in the U.S.) post here regularly. (Care to pipe in, here, Guillermo Bustamante?)

    So the statement is false, for starters.

    But it is also slanderous, in so far as it suggests that anyone opposed to illegal immigration is opposed because he is a racist or a bigot. (For clarification, a “racist” thinks his race is objectively superior to other races; a “bigot” simply dislikes other races without recourse to any theory of superiority.)

    There is certainly a visceral, emotional reaction from opponents of illegal immigration. But look closely: Against whom is that reaction directed?

    It is generally not against the immigrants themselves. One more often than not finds vocal opponents of illegal immigration who’re not only polite but positively generous to actual illegals.

    No, it was against politicians and businessmen that the intense rage of illegal immigration foes was directed.

    This only began to change after some illegal immigrants, on the bad advice of activist grievance-mongers in the U.S., marched in the streets. I’ll have more to say about this horrible P.R. blunder, later.

    But the reason that illegal immigration foes, prior to that blunder, saved their invective for politicians and businessmen (generally of European ancestry, please note), was because of rage over The Affront To The Rule Of Law.

    I’ll have more to say about that in a later post.

    For now, I content myself to observe that the original assertion was slander.

  • Steve Skojec

    MH wrote: Good post, right up to the last paragraph. Government, whether it is America’s or Mexico’s is only and always a necessary evil. The question should then be, “Where is the impetus for the Mexican people to help themselves by changing their form of governance and creating economic opportunities there?”

    When it’s the government that’s causing the bulk of the problems through bad policies and widespread corruption, they do play a role. I don’t know enough about Mexico’s electoral politics to be sure, but I get the impression that it’s not a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

    If the big fat American stream of income were drastically cut off, however (rememeber – a LOT of U.S. dollars are sent home to Mexico by illegals) then the public outcry might just create a catalyst for Mexican government reform.

    I’ve seen the corruption in action. It’s so blatant you’d almost think it wasn’t possible. I once watched a priest have to negotiate with a pair of cops not to force our entire busload of missionaries to pay a bribe. Another time, on a separate trip, a friend of mine had to go through the same ordeal while I pretended to sleep in the passenger seat after we got pulled over in the middle of the night. And that’s just at the local level. Once you go up the food chain, then what?

    I’d love for the Mexican people to take their destiny into their own hands, but the crooks and liars running the place need to feel some pressure before reform can start.

    Again, my un-expert opinion.

  • Tim Shipe

    Sorry MH for my own snarkiness- I just resent being charged with the anti-American tagline- I served in the National Guard for six years- was fortunate not to have been in a war/combat- and I feel a very special calling to try to perfect my self and my nation- I don’t want to receive false praise personally, and I don’t go in for false praise for America- I want to deal with the straight historical record- which is one reason I really like Wiener’s book on the CIA- all of it is taken from official documents and on the record interviews of major CIA players- I believe in the Scriptural adage that we must take the plank out of our eye first- I apply it to my own sense of patriotism- my alligence is first to Christ and his teachings, and I don’t see the contradiction between this personal consecration and my civic duties because I am compelled to work for reforms in my community and society- and if the topic was abortion, pornography or gay marriage I know I wouldn’t disappoint you with my Catholic orthodoxy.

    I want to offer up some extended quotes from our social doctrine- so that you can see the context- this social doctrine forms the parameters of my attempts to formulate a just and merciful America- if I cross the line with my personality and passion- well that’s on me- my bad- but really I just want every Catholic to draw closer to the actual Church social doctrine- not something I made up with all of my personal limitations- so here goes some extensive quotes on something too often overlooked in CAtholic political discussions:

    III. THE UNIVERSAL DESTINATION OF GOODS
    a. Origin and meaning
    171. Among the numerous implications of the common good, immediate significance is taken on by the principle of the universal destination of goods:

  • Tim Shipe

    172. The universal right to use the goods of the earth is based on the principle of the universal destination of goods. Each person must have access to the level of well-being necessary for his full development. The right to the common use of goods is the

  • Tim Shipe

    174. The principle of the universal destination of goods is an invitation to develop an economic vision inspired by moral values that permit people not to lose sight of the origin or purpose of these goods, so as to bring about a world of fairness and solidarity, in which the creation of wealth can take on a positive function. Wealth, in effect, presents this possibility in the many different forms in which it can find expression as the result of a process of production that works with the available technological and economic resources, both natural and derived. This result is guided by resourcefulness, planning and labour, and used as a means for promoting the well-being of all men and all peoples and for preventing their exclusion and exploitation.

    175. The universal destination of goods requires a common effort to obtain for every person and for all peoples the conditions necessary for integral development, so that everyone can contribute to making a more humane world,

  • Tim Shipe

    b. The universal destination of goods and private property

    176. By means of work and making use of the gift of intelligence, people are able to exercise dominion over the earth and make it a fitting home:

  • Tim Shipe

    178. The Church’s social teaching moreover calls for recognition of the social function of any form of private ownership [376] that clearly refers to its necessary relation to the common good[377]. Man

  • Tim Shipe

    180. If forms of property unknown in the past take on significant importance in the process of economic and social development, nonetheless, traditional forms of property must not be forgotten. Individual property is not the only legitimate form of ownership. The ancient form of community property also has a particular importance; though it can be found in economically advanced countries, it is particularly characteristic of the social structure of many indigenous peoples. This is a form of property that has such a profound impact on the economic, cultural and political life of those peoples that it constitutes a fundamental element of their survival and well-being. The defence and appreciation of community property must not exclude, however, an awareness of the fact that this type of property also is destined to evolve. If actions were taken only to preserve its present form, there would be the risk of tying it to the past and in this way compromising it[381].
    An equitable distribution of land remains ever critical, especially in developing countries and in countries that have recently changed from systems based on collectivities or colonization[382]. In rural areas, the possibility of acquiring land through opportunities offered by labour and credit markets is a necessary condition for access to other goods and services. Besides constituting an effective means for safeguarding the environment, this possibility represents a system of social security that can be put in place also in those countries with a weak administrative structure.
    181. To the subjects, whether individuals or communities, that exercise ownership of various types of property accrue a series of objective advantages: better living conditions, security for the future, and a greater number of options from which to choose. On the other hand, property may also bring a series of deceptive promises that are a source of temptation. Those people and societies that go so far as to absolutize the role of property end up experiencing the bitterest type of slavery. In fact, there is no category of possession that can be considered indifferent with regard to the influence that it may have both on individuals and on institutions. Owners who heedlessly idolize their goods (cf. Mt 6:24, 19:21-26; Lk 16:13) become owned and enslaved by them[383]. Only by recognizing that these goods are dependent on God the Creator and then directing their use to the common good, is it possible to give material goods their proper function as useful tools for the growth of individuals and peoples.

  • Tim Shipe

    c. The universal destination of goods and the preferential option for the poor
    182. The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern. To this end, the preferential option for the poor should be reaffirmed in all its force[384].

  • Tim Shipe

    184. The Church’s love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, by the poverty of Jesus and by his attention to the poor. This love concerns material poverty and also the numerous forms of cultural and religious poverty[389]. The Church,

  • Tim Shipe

    The relationship between labour and capital
    276. Work, because of its subjective or personal character, is superior to every other factor connected with productivity; this principle applies, in particular, with regard to capital. The term

  • Tim Shipe

    278. In considering the relationship between labour and capital, above all with regard to the impressive transformations of our modern times, we must maintain that the

  • John Zmirak

    I fully support Catholic social teaching. All of the goals it lays out are completely undermined by the breakdown of the rule of law, and the reversion to an animalistic, Darwinian competition unregulated by social norms, moral principles, and civic honesty. These are precisely the conditions created when the State shrugs off its duty to keep order–including at the borders. Those of you who are railing about the role of big business and American corporations in the abuse of labor, please ask yourselves: Why is the Wall Street Journal for open borders? Why do big corporations like Microsoft pour money into pro-immigration lobbies? Is it altruism? Have they been reading the bishops’ letters? Or could it be that they LIKE paying low wages and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for health and other benefits?

  • HA

    I suspect a fair number of people would have far fewer or no problems with immigration if, for every illegal alien that was deported or otherwise encouraged to repatriate, another legal immigrant who chose to follow the rules were allowed entry. There is still a fairly long line of people waiting for a legal visa, and however unfair or aleatoric the current rules are or were, rewarding those who broke them at the expense of those who did not strikes many as unfair and wrong-headed.

    If we were to try such an approach (or at least some rough, real-world approximation of it) then the remaining question

  • jh

    John Zmirak perhaps should do a follow up post detailing his immigration plan and what to do with all the illegals here. THe good and the bad and the ugly. It is clear that he views those that oppose his views guilty of treason

    So I am curious what his plan his

    I so wish we could put the Delete the Border crowd and those that talk about Mexican conspiraceis all in one footabll stadium so they could battle each other while the 80 percent of calm rational American can come to a solution

  • Anastasia

    To build on Joe H.:

    1.

  • Anastasia

    4. Straw man, false dichotomy, and claims without evidence. The article contrasts Hispanics to

  • JKS

    If the Catholic Church does not pay the IRS (as most illegals don’t) why is it trying to influence politics?

    If the church wants to take such a strong stand for unlimited, unlawful immigration, let them take the brunt of such students into their private schools rather than force them on tax-funded public schools.

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    Forget for a minute that Hispanics in the southwest USA might be taking back what was taken by force from them in 1835 and 1845, and thus might indeed be going “home”.

    Going down the anti-American road screaming, “the U.S. stole their land,” is hardly helpful. We should first have to forget that “Hispanics” themselves, being at least partial descendents of Spain, took the land by force from the indiginous peoples living there.

    The United States, on the other hand, either bought its rights to the West from France or Spain or the lands were ceded to the United States by Mexico in a treaty that it voluntarily signed. If anyone stole the land from the natives, it was France, Spain, and Mexico, not the U.S.

  • Tim Shipe

    We have to get rid of this constant “Us versus Them” mentality- The Church offers some very encouraging moral principles that provide the best framework for Trade Pacts- Regional and Global- Take the following extensive quotes from the Compendium of Social Doctrine to heart- remember this Compendium was one of the last official Church documents commissioned by the Late Pope John Paul II- it is a concise rendering of the whole corpus of social doctrine- it offers the only true Catholic worldview- from this basis we can delve into particular policies and trade agenda items- without this shared reading, I don’t see any CAtholic unity ever being able to emerge- the Left and Right will continue to march along offering up bits and pieces of social doctrine but missing the forest for the trees. The Right claiming that because Abortion is so horrible, it is a waste of time to research the mind of the Church on ‘Prudential Matters’. The Left demonizes the Magisterium in general, but isn’t above trotting out the popes when the topic is war or poverty (or immigration). Well here is what the Church has to say about the way we should be behaving as peoples and nations:

    IV. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
    a. Cooperation to guarantee the right to development
    446. The solution to the problem of development requires cooperation among individual political communities.

  • Tim Shipe

    447. The Church’s social doctrine encourages forms of cooperation that are capable of facilitating access to the international market on the part of countries suffering from poverty and underdevelopment.

  • Tim Shipe

    b. The fight against poverty
    449. At the beginning of the New Millennium, the poverty of billions of men and women is

  • Joe H

    John Zmirak wrote: I fully support Catholic social teaching. All of the goals it lays out are completely undermined by the breakdown of the rule of law, and the reversion to an animalistic, Darwinian competition unregulated by social norms, moral principles, and civic honesty. These are precisely the conditions created when the State shrugs off its duty to keep order–including at the borders. Those of you who are railing about the role of big business and American corporations in the abuse of labor, please ask yourselves: Why is the Wall Street Journal for open borders? Why do big corporations like Microsoft pour money into pro-immigration lobbies? Is it altruism? Have they been reading the bishops’ letters? Or could it be that they LIKE paying low wages and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for health and other benefits?

    John,

    If you would have simply raised these points in a coherent fashion originally, this debate could have gone differently. I just don’t understand why fringe radical groups, the immigration policies of Mexico, and the voting habits of Latinos all have to come up in a discussion about how we are supposed to address this issue. They are minor issues at best, distractions at worst.

    Most of us know very well why Microsoft and other corporations are for open boarders – we are very much aware of the demand for cheap, exploitable labor. That is why some of us are for expediting the whole process of citizenship, so these workers can be properly accounted for, on the books, and possibly organized into unions or other organizations that will look after their economic and human rights. I don’t think many corporations will be supporting those efforts.

    I don’t see any mass boycotts of McDonalds or Burger King, or of any of the other companies that make use of migrant labor. The people who complain about immigrants, the majority of Americans, are all too happy to have the savings of cheap labor passed onto them in their consumer goods.

    I do see left-wing activists, secular and religious, campaigning against those companies because they pay their workers well below minimum wage, and they’ve had some measure of success too.

    I’ll reiterate that you can’t have a global capitalist society without mobility of labor too. I’ll say again that a Mexican’s decision to seek work in the US is no different than a fortune 500 CEO’s decision to move capital to Asia. They play the same game by the same rules, with the ONLY difference being that the powers that be have sanctioned one form of movement while denying the other.

    So who should we go after first? The Mexican who simply wants to survive, or the CEO who simply wants to maximize profit? The CEO is part of a structure that places enormous pressure on him to maximize profit, so why aren’t we addressing that? Why are we instead making ridiculous demands upon poor people, that they “stay behind” and “clean up their own country”, when we damned well know that isn’t going to happen?

    I get the feeling that it’s just easier for a lot of people, and I am NOT accusing anyone here at IC, to pick on the poor Mexican than it is to challenge the structure of the global economy, easier to propose a giant wall or a military deployment along the boarder than it is to challenge the malefactors of great wealth.

    Well, I just can’t do it. You put the person struggling to survive, risking their life just to get a better job, next to the people who just want to maximize their share value, and it’s a no-brainier who is going to get my sympathy and support, who is going to be at the top of my priority list for compassion and understanding.

  • Joe H

    “States and national markets are part of a dying world Our loyalty ought not be put in

  • Tim Shipe

    Here is an excellent overview of the Magisterium’s view of the economics of Immigration- I quote part of Acton Institute’s Andrew Yuengert Pepperdine U.:

    Catholic Social Teaching on Immigration
    Catholic social teaching addresses immigration only briefly, but it speaks definitively. The central principle in its commentary is the right to emigrate. This emphasis on emigration

  • Tim Shipe

    The second concern about migration is the danger to which it exposes migrants. Immigrants are often at a disadvantage in labor markets, particularly where there are few enclave networks to provide information and job leads. 7 This problem is particularly acute for illegal immigrants. Added to the concern about the material vulnerability of immigrants is a concern for the quality of their moral life

  • Tim Shipe

    At the same time, Catholic social teaching recognizes that migration is often a result of imbalances among nations. Migrants want to leave places where they are poor, and live in places where they are not. The popes blame economic backwardness on different causes. Leo XIII and John Paul II emphasize the internal suppression of property and initiative; John XXIII and Paul VI assign more blame to other countries in the international economic system. 10 No matter what the cause, the elimination of the economic imbalances between nations (in economic terms, convergence) will reduce the incentive to migrate, without directly preventing people from migrating. Of course, eliminating incentives of absolute advantage across countries will not eliminate the incentives of in-dividual comparative advantage.
    Until convergence is achieved, countries should provide aid to immigrants to ease their integration into the host country. 11 John Paul II urges the protection of the labor rights of immigrants to ensure that they are treated with no less dignity than native workers. 12 In addition, countries are urged to promote, not hinder, family unity. John XXIII puts particular emphasis on the right of the family (as opposed to the individual) to migrate. 13 To effectively guarantee a right to migrate, Paul VI recommends that provisions be made for families to join an immigrant in the host country. 14
    Catholic social teaching advocates policies to guarantee the right of migration across national borders, to foster the integration of immigrants (who are permanent, presumably) into the host country

  • Joe

    Re “I’m not really sure what the “point” of this article is”
    – that quickly became clear….

    Re #1 – the “small groups” exist as a representation of a larger feeling within a community. Like Islam on 9/11, if the Islamic believers were really horrified or against what had happened they would have been heard….

    Re #2 – Mexico, through their laws, support the violation of our laws. That’s the connection. That you cant see that only reveals your ignornance.

    Re #3 – uh, do you really think that an increase in the number of illegal poor doesnt create an “unjust” representation of the numbers of our poor? You dont think that creates a “need” which the party that lives off of creating government programs uses to promote itself? You dont think that these programs undermine the econmic freedom of Americans by increasing their taxes? Again, your ignorance and inability to see the fullness of truth to a point becomes evident.

    Re “We live in a global economy … to draw the line at labor is arbitrary and irrational.”
    – yes there is a “global economy”, but it does not follow that individual rights and choice determine the “production, trade, distribution” and captial allocation. It is the God given right, that comes with responsibilities, to possess that which we produce. Implicit in that is to protect our right to our “property”, that is in today’s parlance “capital”. You can not have “production, distribution and trade” without the right to “property” and the right to “distribute” it as one desires. Or would you prefer to be Communist or Socialist?… or maybe that’s what you are… you sound like one.

    Re “I think our attitude …. – let the punishment fit the crime. In most cases the “crime” is sneaking into a country to work to support a family. So let’s find a suitable punishment for that crime.”
    – okay, “sneaking” in is the crime, “sent home” is very very suitable “punishment”.

    Re “You suggest Mexicans …. need to think about their needs too.”
    – uh, “we must all hang together or we shall all hang apart”…. If you feel so strongly start a charity or organization to help them. If they arent willing to fight for justice and their rights, maybe you are willing to do it for them.

    Dont tell me I have to take from my family to give to theirs. Doing so is MY responsibility of charity I am going to be responsible to God for when I die.

    You’ve done your job by “telling me of the need”. Now why dont you put your muscles and your money where your heart and soul lay?

    Please spare us the “more to come”….

  • R.C.

    Here’s a proposal, which I think is what this discussion is badly lacking.

    I will go ahead and tell you it’s a straw-man proposal, which I have intentionally “spiked” with elements that I myself feel are either not quite practical, or not quite moral, or both.

    All the same, it’s intended to be serious enough to spark discussion, OF A PARTICULAR TYPE.

    The type of discussion for which I hope is not “You Evil Person You, I Hope You Rot In Hell For Even Suggesting That.”

    I’d rather hear, “The second item in your proposal is too [fill in adjective here]; I offer the following alternative item [fill in alternative item here] which fixes that flaw in your proposal.”

    Ready…?

  • R.C.

    Policy #1: Penalty for Employing Illegal Aliens: The penalty levied against a company employing illegals is roughly 0.1% of annual profit for the company, per each illegal alien working there, per month the illegal alien worked there. So a company making $1 million in annual profits who hired ten illegal aliens for ten months each would pay (0.1% * $1 million * 10 workers * 10 months) = $100,000 penalty, which is 10% of annual profits.

    (Adjustment for Policy #1: For the first year in which an infraction occurs, the penalty is 0.1% of profits (per illegal per month) and limited to 10% of corporate profits; for the second consecutive year, the penalty is 0.2% of profits and limited to 20%, and so on, up to a maximum of 1% and 100% for ten consecutive years of violations.)

    Policy #2: From every illegal immigrant caught/identified in the U.S., take a complete biometric sampling, from fingerprints to DNA. Take a similar sampling from all visa applicants. Use this information to identify visa-overstayers and those who, once evicted, return under different identities. This also feeds a database to help employers avoid employing illegals and overstayers.

    Policy #3: When an illegal who is guilty of no other crime is captured in-country, offer multi-year visas or even permanent resident status in exchange for information leading to the successful prosecution of “coyotes” or companies who knowingly employ illegals. When a fine is successfully levied and collected from an employer of illegals, the informer gets a cut (see Policy #1). For information about non-immigration-related crimes, similar rewards are offered so that, far from being afraid to identify themselves to police, illegals have ample incentive to “turn themselves in” and turn informer, if they’re aware of any crime.

    Policy #4: Take annual estimates of the number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. from each Latin American country. For each such country, each year, increase the upper limit of visas that may be issued to legal workers from those countries by half of the estimated number of illegals present. Spend whatever is required to expedite the granting of visas until all backlogs can be cleared in ten months. (Yes, I know this is preferential treatment for Latin Americans and distinctly unfair for Asians, et cetera.)

    Policy #5: End the practice of birthright citizenship for children both of whose parents are in the U.S. illegally. (It was never intended by the U.S. Constitution anyway, but the archaic language is confusing to us moderns unfamiliar with the meaning of the phrase “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”) Citizenship is only conferred by birth on those for whom at least one parent is either a citizen, here under a grant of political asylum, or has permanent legal status.

    Policy #6: Grant a tax deduction for income earned inside the United States which is sent to families of the worker outside the United States (treat it as a charitable donation).

  • James Dominic

    Arturo,

    Let’s get specific.

    1. You claim that Zmirak’s “Render Unto Caesar” conjures “every single boogeyman that the racist (yes I will use that term) pundits invoke in this country.”

    Please list any racist passages in Zmirak’s “Render Unto Caesar.”

    2. You also claim that “Inside Catholic encourages Catholics to be obedient to the hierarchy of the Church. Except when it comes to … talking about people like human beings and not sub-human criminals waiting to hatch in the barrios.”

    Please list any passages in “Render Unto Caesar” in which Zmirak portrays either criminal immigrants or non-criminal immigrants as “sub-human.”

    3. Something motivated you to level some serious charges. Make it plain. And then John could respond. Meaningful dialogue is right around the corner, that much is clear. I just know it in my heart. Oh my goodness, the healing!

    The reason that is absurd is the same reason our multicultural future will either be (a) strife-ridden or (b) one of peace among the atomized, their actions coordinated by relations to commodities and public and private bureaucratic soft-cop managerial directives (the “rule of law,” mind).

    The social conditions of possibility for the elimination of mutual distrust are impossible to contrive.

    That distrust will give rise to conflict or will be pacified by consumerism and a proceduralism that deracinates subject populations and erodes CCC 2241’s “spiritual heritage” of particular peoples. Diversity of what? The skin color of interchangeable units of biopower to run a grand social machine of individual preference satisfaction. Looking forward to it. Free at last in the United Colours of Benetton. A thousand flowers bloom. So impressive. If anybody needs me to die for it in a war, just ask. Yet maybe I’ll be proved wrong. Time will tell.

    James

  • R.C.

    There it is, folks.

    I opened my big mouth a while ago and said someone should propose something concrete to make this discussion more fruitful. Realizing that was like saying, “Why doesn’t somebody do something?” while doing nothing myself, I decided to put my neck on the block and propose something.

    I’ve covered myself slightly by calling it a “straw-man” and introducing some elements which I myself find not-quite practical or not-quite moral. So, those of you who’re outraged by bits of it can conclude that perhaps those are the parts I myself have problems with, and not excoriate me about it. Hopefully you’ll all assume the bits you don’t like are the bits I don’t like, and that the bits you like are the bits I like, and then I’ll experience warm collegiality from all comers.

    THREE REQUESTS:

    (1.) Don’t like part of it? Propose an adjustment to that part.

    (2.) Not sure why part of it is even in there? Ask, of course, but also try to guess why. (Please, assume it’s something practical, and not because “R.C.’s an open-borders radical / toothless racist turd / whatever.”)

    (3.) Do NOT use the “well, it’s okay in theory, but it’ll never happen because the special interests have bought all the politicians yadda, yadda” argument. Assume that if we can agree on what is the right thing to do, we can get the politicians to do it. (This argument stifles any discussion; if someone wants to do that, why even post?)

    And, finally, remember: We’re just having a friendly conversation over Coke and pizza (substitute your preferred beverage as desired).

    Have at it.

  • John Zmirak

    First of all, Mr. Sipe, it is bad manners to paste enormous chunks of text on a comments section, which no one is likely to read. That is what links are for.

    On the substantive question, the material you present seems distinctly at odds with the official statement of Church teaching, which is not a compendium (what level of the magisterium is entailed there), but the Catechism–whose treatment of the subject I explicate here: http://tiny.cc/ls8ue

    To take on one important point, the Compendium quotes Laborem Exercens, which asserts

  • Joe H

    Joe,

    Maybe before you criticize me you should go back and take a look at exactly what my problem is. I don’t think you read me or understood me very well at all.

    How Mexico treats people who want to immigrate to Mexico or who sneak into Mexico has nothing to do with what we ought to do in this country. Zmirak invoked Mexico’s immigration policies as if to say, “see, look at what Mexico does to people” – as if it mattered one bit!

    Now, if you can’t see why that doesn’t matter, I’d say that reveals your inability to understand this issue.

    As for the small groups, how do you know that? You’re just assuming.

    You obviously don’t get the point about the global economy either. You write,

    “yes there is a “global economy”, but it does not follow that individual rights and choice determine the “production, trade, distribution” and captial allocation. It is the God given right, that comes with responsibilities, to possess that which we produce.”

    Huh? What does this even mean? My point is that capital moves freely while labor is arbitrarily restricted.

    I said absolutely nothing about property rights. I’m talking about the movement of resources across boarders. I’m saying its ridiculous to hold Mexican labor to standards you won’t hold American capital to. It’s ridiculous to have global production and trade but insist that labor remain stationary. Mexican workers are as rational about their economic interests as Sam Walton.

    We have a God given right to life too, and no obligation to starve to death because we aren’t welcome in another country. And “sent home” is not a suitable punishment if it means a family won’t be able to support itself. I was thinking more along the lines of RC’s proposals.

    “Dont tell me I have to take from my family to give to theirs.”

    I never said any such thing, so I’ll thank you to stop being dishonest about me. Maybe you should apologize too.

    How about just let them work and live in peace, and stop whining like babies about signs and messages in Spanish, which is what all any of us are really arguing for?

  • Tim Shipe

    Prof. Zmirak- your viewpoint on the official Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church gives me no choice but to conclude that you are not interested in being an orthodox Catholic when it comes to the Church’s social doctrine. You can read in the introduction to the Compendium exactly how important it is from the point-of-view of the Magisterium. I would quote from it- but apparently you are not up to reading too much- and since I do quote extensively due to an admittedly lame ignorance of how to make a link- which I will ask around about- and my view of most people when it comes to the social doctrine- they aren’t very well-read in official documents, and as such, probably won’t hit the link, but if it’s right there in front of them- the odds are better- better to educate and irritate than not to educate at all. I like to allow the Church teachings to do my talking wherever possible- too bad you have decided that the Compendium is beneath you.

    If we want to spend billions on walls and chasing down illegals- that’s one approach to dealing with what I agree is a big problem. This would force a lot of Mexicans back into their country and perhaps some kind of revolution will result- bloody or not- and things will improve for average Mexicans as they will then move away from things like NAFTA and the American Consensus- but of course they may go the way of hardcore socialism- which is not the best cure.

    I would like to see a peaceful change that require the least amount of policing and potential violence- which is why I spend so much time promoting the Catholic moral principles regarding economics- we here in America are not following those principles very well, and we are exporting our structures of sin- I would like to stop that. I like Trade that looks at innovation, technology transfer and upgrades, emphasis on infrastructure and human rights/conditions of labor/environment, and also on profits and taxation that targets the wealthiest not the middling income folks- basically I would support an anti-NAFTA NAFTA trade agreement- bring in a prudent juridical framework as I believe the Church’s social teachings require. This would help to make for a peaceful and healthy transition for many proud Mexicans et al to return to their homelands to be empowered to live decent lives in the place they would surely rather be- voluntarily leaving the US without all the expensive and hurtful “fuss”.

  • M. H.

    Steve Skojec wrote: I’d love for the Mexican people to take their destiny into their own hands, but the crooks and liars running the place need to feel some pressure before reform can start.

    Hi Steve:

    I’ve given a lot of thought to your response. Having lived in the southwest for about a year, I resisted multiple entreaties to visit TJ, etc. for just the reasons you described.

    Yet I cannot think otherwise than in my original post regarding an individual citizen’s responsbility to change his environment for the better. This, of course, is not to say that he’ll be successful — or even that the whole Mexican gov’t isn’t corrupt from the president to the local police.

    But America simply can’t do this for anyone else, even though our current neo-con leaders feel othewise. It is up to the Mexicans — hopefully lots and lots of them — to combat corruption as best they’re able on a daily basis. To say otherwise is to exempt them from the moral and civic responsbilities demanded not by men, but by God. “Render unto Caesar” must mean more than just paying taxes.

    To say otherwise also patronizes them by diminishing their dignity as human beings. If they’re held to a lesser standard of ethics, we essentially say they’re less than fully human. It’s a subtle condescension, but it dehumanizes its “victims.”

    I was listening to a terrific talk by Dr. Peter Kreeft, which is relevant here. He said the weapon that will win the culture wars is SAINTS. I’ll paraphrase: “Imagine what twelve more Juan Diegos or twelve more Miguel Pros or twelve more Conchitas” could do for Mexico. Maybe instead of economic pressure, the inspiration of a few saints would do the trick. In fact, I propose that one more Miguel Pro, one more Conchita, one more Juan Diego would do more to change Mexico than all the remittances ever sent there from the U.S. (Look at the peaceful revolution in the Phillipines.)

    I really enjoy your articles, Steve, and I offer these thoughts humbly, as a true non-expert. 🙂

  • R.C.

    Tim:

    From what I can tell, while the goals expressed therein should inform all our reasoning processes, the Compendium is entirely without direct relevance here.

    Your ample quotes from it, while laudably clear about our moral obligation to the poor, say nothing that’s directly on point, because conclusions about how to accomplish this obligation (excluding immoral or counterproductive means) are left completely up to the reader.

    I know you were well intentioned in posting all that, but I find myself resenting it somewhat: Not because I have any disagreement with the content, but because, though I’d read it all before, I reasoned there must have been something pertinent that I missed the first time, that you’d make such a showy point of printing it here.

    So I read it all again. Friend, the magnificent vindication for your (or my, or anyone’s) methods or procedures of rectifying the problems which caused, and are caused by, illegal immigration are just not in there.

    Now if you’d like to argue for a concrete implementation of those teachings, feel free to propose it.

    Respectfully,

    R.C.

  • R.C.

    Joe (H):

    I said absolutely nothing about property rights. I’m talking about the movement of resources across boarders. I’m saying its ridiculous to hold Mexican labor to standards you won’t hold American capital to. It’s ridiculous to have global production and trade but insist that labor remain stationary. Mexican workers are as rational about their economic interests as Sam Walton.

    There’s some truth in what you say here. But I don’t think labor and capital are as directly comparable as the statement implies, because:

    (1.) A unit of labor (a person) carries with them a potential drain on social services; a unit of capital does not;
    (2.) A unit of labor carries with them a potential to commit crimes (however rarely); a unit of capital does not;
    (3.) A unit of labor carries with them a potential to reproduce; a unit of capital does not;
    (4.) Language barriers exist for units of labor; not so with units of capital;
    (5.) Units of labor may settle, become citizens, register to vote, (or sometimes vote prior to citizenship…it’s not like poll-workers are allowed to check, in many states!) and thereby influence elections or political culture;

    …and there may be other differences.

    Now of course I can see the counter-arguments to these three items; by requiring improvements to infrastructure (parking lots, plumbing, et cetera) a movement of capital may also drain “social services” of a type. (In which case I’d ask, “But which is the larger drain?”)

    In the end, though, I think it’s fair to say differences exist between labor and capital, even though both are valuable. These differences prevent us from saying that the two are so obviously equivalent as to make objection to one, but not the other, necessarily absurd or illogical.

  • Tim Shipe

    RC,

    I totally respect the fact that you are wide open to reading extensive quotes from the Compendium- maybe I am a bit strange in my extreme enthusiasm for it- but I do know that my own Bishop Wenski of Orlando, carries the Compendium around when I’ve seen him give talks, and I asked him about his own work on the Immigration issue, and he told me squarely that his work and the other Bishops in the USCCB is directly in line with where the Magisterium is- I do get upset when I see those on the political right trash talking the American bishops- I understand that the USCCB can fail to prioritize Abortion seemingly, but in no way do I feel that are misleading us on the social doctrine- and to throw in their administrative moral failures with the gay priests is just not helpful.

    My beef isn’t really with those who read, contemplate, consider the official Church- as the Compendium represents well- and then have particular differences of opinion on the best way to implement- I’m not so egotistical- my primary beef is with Catholics who claim to be representing the CAtholic worldview on particular issues, but who either refuse to take the actual social teachings into their conscience or they take cheap shots at the bishops and Holy See- I think that is a terrible witness to the little ones, in particular- we live with so much cynicism in the general culture- do we have to be so cynical when it comes to our collective national Bishops’ organization, and the Holy See itself- even if one gives respectful lip service to the Papacy itself?

    I have done my best to offer up a concrete proposal for in part solving the human tragedies associated with incredible immigration demands- I have tried my best to keep within the parameters of the official teachings- if you disagree with me I can live with that- but I can’t say that you are right! Please re-read prof. Yuengert’s article- he does a good job of summarizing all the official Church teachings re: Immigration- and it seems apparent that this InsideCatholic article crosses well over the lines of orthodoxy.

  • John Zmirak

    RE: Mr. Shipe:
    Catholic social teaching is meaningful and relevant and worthy of consideration. However, relatively little of it has attained the status of magisterial teaching which makes it appropriate for you to use words like “orthodoxy” in reference to it. Various popes on social questions have written things at odds with each other; for instance, Leo XIII and Pius XI’s vision of subsidiarity are very hard to reconcile with Paul VI’s embrace of international regulation and bureaucracy. Are we to regard each of Paul’s dubiously informed policy recommendations in Populorum Progressio as DOCTRINE? (For instance, his call for massive foreign aid–which subsequent experience has shown is typically counter-productive, as Tom Woods shows brilliantly in his book “The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy,” which I highly recommend–even though I can’t endorse all his positions.

    If Paul’s policy proposals are now doctrine, then so was what Pius IX wrote condemning the secular state–and indeed, what Boniface VIII wrote about the pope’s secular preeminence over temporal rulers… and no doubt, various medieval condemnations of any lending at interest as usury. For that matter, perhaps Urban VIII’s call for a crusade was ALSO doctrinal, which might provide some American Catholics with a pretext for yet another war in the Middle East….

    Don’t be in a hurry to infallibilize a body of thought which is still very much in flux and is certainly subject to critique and feedback from the laity.

  • Jim L

    I miss neighborhood bars; meaningful discussion.

    In the early eighties, a young fellah could still find from among all the newly opened lounges, a bar; a place of cheap drink and good conversation

  • Arturo Vasquez

    Normally, I don

  • Arturo Vasquez
  • M. H.

    Generally, I’m against feeding trolls, but this time it’s just too hard to resist.

    [quote=Arturo Vasquez](Oh, I

  • Diane

    I’ve read these posts with interest. I work with immigrants, both “legal” and “illegal” on a daily basis. I have heard the phrase “render unto Caesar” used in connection with this issue many times.

    As I consider that Gospel passage in which Jesus said these words, and the miraculous way in which He procured the coin to pay the temple tax, I am not able to see how it justifies the opinions in the article above. Actually, it seems to me that it relates to it only inversely, as Jesus continued by saying “and render unto God what is God’s”

    The question of illegal immigration for me as a Christian cannot be anything but a personal question: what is my duty and responsibility to the person(s) before me in whom I am called to see Christ? My response to that person is what it means to “render unto God what is God’s”. Am I excused from the duty to see Christ in that person because of some extrinsic characteristic that the person possesses? I may like to excuse myself, but the excuse is not mine to give. “Render unto God what is God’s”

    Before making a decision that affects another person’s life, I have a responsibility to ask myself “What if I were in his shoes? How would I want to be treated?”

    JPII spoke to this on his address for World Migration Day in 1995 when he said:

    The Church considers the problem of illegal migrants from the standpoint of Christ, who died to gather together the dispersed children of God (cf. Jn 11:52), to rehabilitate the marginalized and to bring close those who are distant; in order to integrate all within a communion that is not based on ethnic, cultural or social membership, but on the common justice. “God shows no partiality, but in every nation one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).

  • Tim Shipe

    I think it is a great discussion to have- and one that should involve some of our bishops if they are out there reading- I really and truly do not want to promote something like the Compendium of Social Doctrine, if it is full of optional moral principles and dubious advice and counsel- but this is not the impression I have of it up to this point- like I said previously- Pope John Paul II commissioned this compendium and it was released at the highest levels of the Holy See- the fact that there are previous papal encyclicals that are out there that offer some difficult or even possibly contradictory moral guidance, is not a game-stopper where the Compendium is concerned- you see this Compendium is the most recent effort to pull together the entire corpus of our social doctrine- it is a product of the Magisterium looking over the entire body of encyclicals, speeches and the like, and then rendering a verdict on what is of the essence- because it is so recent and draws upon so much Magisterial sources, and is itself a Magisterial product, I am inclined to place huge emphasis upon it.

    If I’m wrong- I need some Hierarchical guidance here- not just more lay opinion- I have mentioned already that my own bishop in Orlando, has provided a life witness with his wide-ranging use of the Compendium- and I have had such a personally inspiring journey through and back around again and again inside the pages of the Compendium.

    This is really a very, very important for all of us who are making claim to some kind of Catholic orthodox view on a whole range of very, very important soci-econo-political issues. I’m not interested in throwing out any more snarky or angry comments- I’m truly on fire with a mission for pro-life and social justice- I’m not looking for anything other than the best way forward- and I have learned to lean heavily on our Church teachings in every significant area of private and public morality- I’m sorry for my previous extensive quotes- I simply don’t want to resort of proof-texting short quotes out-of-context.

  • Jesse

    Let’s not clump all Latinos together now in teir monolithic support of the Democratic Party. It is well known a plurality of Cuban-Americans support the GOP. And, let’s not forget that Puerto Rican “Reggaeton” music superstar Daddy Yankee just endorsed McCain. But, Zmirak will probably disapprove of Daddy Yankee’s glowing endorsement of McCain: “He’s been a fighter for the Hispanic community. He’s been a fighter for the immigration issue.” At least McCain got airplay in the local Spanish stations in the slums of Los Angeles. I personally blame the labor unions for the strong Mexican-American support of the Democratic Party. Hillary doesn’t come to the slums of Los Angeles talking about abortion; she comes talking about jobs, the economy, and immigration while stuffing her face with tacos. Like most diocesan chancery workers most Mexican-Americans who are aware of the Democrats stance on abortion support the Democratic Party in spite of its abortion platform. An elderly Spanish-speaking neighbor said she supported Obama because he was the pro-life candidate, and I don’t think she even reads Kmiec.

    The stereotype of the GOP being the heartless party of the rich and the Democrats being the compassionate party of the poor still carries weight in the slums of Los Angeles. The Republicans are seen as the Chupacabras (the mythical goat-sucker monster) not only since the Proposition 187 (the 1994 “anti-immigration” ballot initiative) campaigns but also back to the New Deal through the election of the Catholic JFK, Bobby Kennedy hugging farm-workers, and Bill Clinton visiting parish schools in the slums of East Los Angeles. While some of us vote for the GOP and grin when Bush tries to pronounce words to his amigos in Espanol, others wait for a Latino Governor Robert Casey Sr to arise from the barrios. The struggle continues.

    By the way, can we have some neocon balance when Zmirak pontificates on anything about war or immigration like the civil exchange in First Things between William W. Chip and Professor Michael A. Scaperlanda on immigration.

  • R.C.

    Sorry to sound like a broken record (do I date myself excessively by using that simile? should I say “scratched CD?”), but…

    What Should We Actually DO?

    Zmirak’s original piece, and most responses thereafter, seem to be full of certainty, to judge by tone-of-voice. Well, it’s a happy thing to be confident in one’s approach to an intractable problem!

    But there’s a decided absence of concrete suggested policies in this thread, as I’ve already stated.

    In the United States, there’s a popular saying about politics and elections: “If you didn’t even vote in the last election, you forfeit your right to complain about the outcome.”

    Now Tim, Arturo, John, Joe, M.H., and others have been pretty critical of one anothers’ perspectives on the problem. Fair enough: If you think the other guy has it wrong, there’s no reason you shouldn’t say so.

    But if you’re confident the other guy’s got something wrong, that rather implies that you possess more accurate information than he, doesn’t it?

    So get to it, all you smart guys: Propose a solution to the problem!

    I’ve already tried to “prime” the pump for you, back in Posts 72, 73, and 75. But the flow of useful suggestions is still more like a trickle.

    I’ve had discussions with several of you previously, and I hope you know from them that I respect you all and intend no insult.

    But fellas, unless you’re so enamored of my Straw-Man proposal that you’re willing to accept it in toto as the “Official Immigration Policy of InsideCatholic” (and while I thank Joe H for his kind acknowledgment of it, I doubt he’ll go that far) it’s time to put up or shut up.

    Because pointing out the lack of charity, or realism, or whatever, in another person’s post only gets you so far. Eventually, you gotta decide on something, and do it.

  • John Zmirak

    First, a comment on Pope John Paul’s comments quoted above: “Christ, who died to gather together the dispersed children of God (cf. Jn 11:52), to rehabilitate the marginalized and to bring close those who are distant; in order to integrate all within a communion that is not based on ethnic, cultural or social membership, but on the common justice.”

    Last time I checked, that communion which Our Lord died to gather was the CATHOLIC CHURCH. Not the United States of America.

    Chesterton once quipped that America was a “nation with the soul of a church.” He meant it as a criticism. Must we now develop an ecclesiology for the American nation as well–and pretend that “extra America nulla salus est”?

    In response to R.C. I will next week, with the editor’s indulgence, offer my own proposals–drawn from years of studying both this issue and historic Church social teaching–for reforming our immigration system in line with the rights due in justice to our citizens, and the demands of charity toward foreigners.

  • Caroline

    Annex Mexico to the United States. No more arguments.

  • Joe H

    RC,

    Of course there are differences between labor and capital – that is sort of the point. Capital can go where the labor is cheap, where it doesn’t have to tolerate such inconveniences as workers rights, i.e. China. The economic consequences of capital flight are, from everything I have ever seen on this subject, far more devastating than the consequences of immigration. Immigrants bring something to the table – their labor, often at a lower price, which ultimately every American consumer, including the biggest whiners about immigration, benefits from. Capital flight brings nothing to the table but rather clears it.

    Your list brings up points that for me couldn’t be less relevant. Immigrants are here to work, often to send home money to families back in Mexico, and they can’t do that with welfare checks. The immigrants I have known, undocumented immigrants, were actually more frugal and smart with their money than most of the white kids I knew growing up.

    The vast majority of immigrants do not commit crimes, and I believe many of them are willing and able to learn the language and have their children learn it. From what little I know of the Mexican immigrant community, it is actually seen as a benefit, and not some mark of shame, to be able to speak English.

    These issues, again, are to me meaningless. When Michael Savage bellows “boarders, language, culture!” I think to myself, global economy, most people in the world speak a second language, and America is a cultural cesspool anyway. My life is not made worse by immigrants, they don’t bother me, I’ve found the ones I’ve known personally to be as nice and as flawed as any American, I’ve seen that they have strong families and a strong work ethic, that there are also some troublemakers and criminals in the bunch – it all adds up to so what?

    I don’t blame immigrants for wages going down – I blame a system that encourages social atomization and never bothers to encourage alternatives to the wage system, as if it were the only way people could ever exist.

    I don’t blame immigrants for the budget crisis since immigrants didn’t slash taxes on the wealthy to the tune of billions of dollars,launch a war with Iraq under false pretenses that would then cost billions of dollars, and make up the difference by borrowing from East Asia.

    The problems facing this country have been caused by the people at the top, in the government and big business. Even those at the top who haven’t caused them are more responsible for fixing them than people with barely nothing who just trying to survive. No one is going to throw George Bush in jail or deport him because he lied about WMD or put us so deeply in debt to China and Japan that, if America is still around, my great grandchildren will be paying it off.

    Regarding solutions:

    My very first choice to solve the immigration would be to encourage the poor people in every area of the world to pool together what they can as collective capital and keep their economies local. People wouldn’t need to migrate if they could create a vibrant local economy.

    So I’m hoping to work with some other distributists and maybe even take it internationally, go around to countries such as Mexico or the poorest areas of the US, and figure out ways to do just that. But that is a one brick at a time approach, and I realize that in the immediate sense we need policy. All I can say is that I don’t think anyone should be deported who hasn’t committed a violent crime.

  • R.C.

    Thanks for the levity, Caroline.

    (I presume and hope that’s what it was!)

    In all perfect realism, while I must observe that any country previously administered by the British Empire generally has excellent governance to this day…I fear that the U.S., in that way at least, just ain’t British enough.

    For of course the Brits held that empire on which the sun never set when they were in the height of their cultural confidence: A sort of early neoconservative idealism mixed with congenital pomposity, White Man’s Burden racialism, cockeyed missionary zeal, and unquestionable effectiveness.

    But that dubious mix gave them the certainty required for their generals and administrators to say such things as the quote ascribed to General Napier in India:

    You say that it is your custom to burn widows alive with their dead husbands. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.

    Granted that even the deeply flawed American governance is way better than current Mexican governance on its best days, still, can anyone imagine the Politically Correct modern American elites having the, uh, “stones” to say anything like the Napier quote?

    So, no, there’ll be no annexation. And even if there was, it wouldn’t result in an export of good government. It’d be all the weak-tea platitudes and posturing we’ve come to know and loathe in the ensuing decades.

    Now, having Bill Gates buy out Mexico? There’s a notion with promise!

  • Steven Falls

    “Whites becoming a minority and that there are too many brown skinned people here.” If there are illegals, and they go to the Church for help (food, clothing what have you)…the priest does not have to and should not have to turn them in. I support the perogative of the Church to not be turned into an arm of the Border Patrol. If I was a Bishop I would get in the government’s face on that one.”

    The issue nowadays isn’t that the Church should turn anyone in or that it should be turned into an arm of the Border Patrol. I don’t know of any Catholic concerned by immigration advocating anything like that. The issue rather is one of morally intimidating parishioners who uphold our immigration laws and don’t “welcome” illegals with jobs and other social benefits that accrue to American citizens.

    At Sunday mass in our parish we are led in chanting such refrains as

  • James Dominic

    Thanks for responding, Arturo.

  • Bender

    Unregulated immigration causes problems in more places than the United States. It is a problem in South America, it is a problem in Europe. I’m sorry that I had forgotten this earlier, when I said that the answer is to improve conditions in their home countries, but this supports my point. From the press interview on Pope Benedict’s recent flight to the United States (4/15/08) —

    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.

  • Joe H

    Bender,

    I’m not sure how you think this quote supports the positions you’ve been advocating thus far. I don’t want to say anything insulting but I am honestly baffled as to how you think this supports your position.

    Nowhere does Benedict put the responsibility for creating a healthy economy on the Mexican migrants – as you did in response to me and some others previously, or even as you introduced these quotes.

    It is a collective responsibility but the impetus has to come from those with the power to make changes. That is why Benedict says that the US, and I will emphasize what I think is important, “ABOVE ALL” is responsible for addressing this issue.

    One more time: “it is above all the United States that must help these countries to develop.” He didn’t even mention the government of Mexico, let alone its impoverished peasants and workers.

    I do not, and I think I can safely speak for those who agree with me on this issue, deny or reject the fundamental solution that Benedict proposes. We reject the ridiculous suggestion that people who are so desperate they risk their lives just to find sub minimum-wage work in another country are going to be able to solve these problems on their own.

  • Jason

    I have used this story before in other contexts on this site, but I think it’s applicable here as well:

    While pursuing my master’s degree in education administration, all my classmates were current teachers. There was a consensus on their part that they were increasingly being asked to fix problems that were family-related. I pointed this out and they all emphatically agreed: when a primary institution fails in its responsibilities, no other institution can adequately pick up the slack and fill the gap. I reiterate this recently to another class of teachers – this time I was the professor. And they also emphatically agreed.

    And we see this in law as well when it comes time to assigning blame & responsibility between two advers parties – generally speaking, the party in the best position to mitigate the damage bears the responsibility of doing so.

    And so I would point this out – that the countries themselves from which all these poor workers emigrate have the primary responsibility to care for their citizens, and there’s something unfair about you, them or Pope Benedict expecting the United States to be “above all” responsible for addressing this issue.

    Further complicating the issue is the FACT that some people (countries) simply will not be helped. We see this individually with many of our own “domestic” poor whose irresponsibility, anti-social choices and apathy are the primary causes of their own poverty. We see it on a macro scale when, for example, Middle Eastern moslems are incapable of forming a stable, democratic State, and yet it is “our responsibility” to lead them where they don’t want to go. Now we’re seeing it as regards helping these nations develop and modernize – that it is again our responsibility to move them in this direction when the necessary infrastructure doesn’t exist (recognition of private property rights and the rule of law, liberal public education, etc.). And if we start to create these conditions that are necessary for these countries to achieve the modernization we are required to lead them to, we are despised for “meddling” and “cultural imperialism”.

    There are no easy answers and both “sides” seem to be advocating solutions that have obvious negative consequences. Based on what I’ve been reading here, no proposed solution is without a downside. But we all agree that something must be done. Can we once again tone down the rhetoric and playing “gotcha” and agree on even just a few fundamentals, despite the negative consequences that inevitably reside in every choice we make? Such as:

    1) People have an inherent right to seek work and the betterment of their situation, but not an inherent right to do so in a particular country.

    2) Being born on American soil does not make you an American citizen.

    3) All welfare programs, inlcuding free medical care for non-citizens should immediately cease, thus removing one incentive for illegal immigration, lowering the tax burden on citizens, removing a source of resentment AND serving justice.

    I also have a few questions for those who know more about this issue than I:

    Someone said that illegal aliens are paying taxes into a system from which they will never receive benefits. How is this so? If they are “illegal” / undocumented, why are they paying these taxes at all?

    Can someone explain to me what is so bad about NAFTA? And if it’s as obviously bad as people here seem to believe, what are its good points? Why was it voted into law to begin with?

    I look forward to continuing my education in this forum about an issue that does not touch me presonally (I live in Michigan and there are no Canadians crossing illegally to find work), but that I believe I need to learn more about.

  • M. H.

    Jason wrote: Someone said that illegal aliens are paying taxes into a system from which they will never receive benefits. How is this so? If they are “illegal” / undocumented, why are they paying these taxes at all?

    Although I can’t answer your other questions, the answer to this one is IDENTITY FRAUD. Illegals “appropriate” social security numbers currently active in the SSA database. It’s not uncommon in the southwest U.S. for up to 50 illegals to be using the same social security number at the same place of residence — which is why, when they’re deported, the U.S. business owner that has “winked at” this should be fined and jailed for subverting the laws of the U.S.

    R.C., it’s a busy day, but I hope to be able to respond to one of your posts later.

  • Tina

    Joe H wrote:
    Yes, of course people in Mexico had jobs, but what kind of jobs? How much did they pay? Was it enough to support a family

    So illegal immigrants come here and make it so that Americans can’t get a job to support their families?

    My question is why when we arrest illegal immigrants we don’t deport them back to where they came from. They sit in our jails.

    I’m not anti-immigration but if you want to be here you need to play by the rules. I have to.

  • Andrew

    Found an interesting video I saw once, any thoughts?
    Seems to be a reasonable, or at least fair, presentation of the problem.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7WJeqxuOfQ

  • Gabriel Austin

    I am often bemused by those who complain about suggestions that Mexico / Mexicans claim the S.W. states. It is not that long ago that these states were taken from Mexico. There is nothing God-given in the U.S. claim to these states. It was a simple piece of aggression and conquest.

  • Mickey

    When did the Catholic idea of preferential treatment of the poor and care for the immigrant become open and flagrant disregard for the law?

    I’m from Texas…I love “Texian” and “Tejano” culture because I grew up in it. I love the food, the music, the love of life, and the piety of my friends and neighbors who are Tejano.

    But what makes Tejano culture special is that it is uniquely American…not Mexican. Tejano is a fusion culture…Spanish speaking American.

    Illegals come to Texas and bring crime, poverty, and make themselves vulnerable to abuse.

    Can we make the US immigration laws more just? Yes, probably…Mr Bush’s Guest Worker program was an attempt at that.

    Should these current laws be defied? Nope.

    Any of you people who are making the case for ignoring the “unjust” immigration laws live in the border states? My guess is “no”. It’s easy to live in NY or Seattle or SF and stump for “sanctuary.” It’s not such a rosy picture from Del Rio, TX and Mesa AZ. Just ask the residents of Laredo if they’re OK with illegal immigration….

  • Paul

    John,

    I always find your posts well-written, insightful, and imbued with a love for the Church. I would love to sit down with you sometime over scotch and cigars. Oh well, probably not in this life.

    Thanks again for the article. I’ll be ruminating on this one for a while.

    In Christ,

    Paul

  • kathy

    Great article, John.

  • PaleoConservative
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