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  • The Importance of Borders: Fixing the Immigration Crisis in 9 Steps

    by John Zmirak

    My piece last week on immigration flowed from my longstanding policy of spreading oil on the waters — then setting them on fire. Dozens of thoughtful responses offered a wide array of views on how to strike a Catholic balance between Church and state, mercy and justice, globalism and patriotism.

    But the most important question posed by several posters came down to: Okay, Zmirak, what would you actually do about the immigration problem? So this week I offer a concrete program.

    The goals of U.S. immigration policy ought to be several, with the most important coming first:

    • Secure the U.S. border to prevent people-smuggling in an age of international terror, and minimize deaths and injuries at the border — both among would-be immigrants, and our besieged and outgunned Border Patrol.
    • Reduce the influx — legal and illegal — of under-educated and low-skilled immigrants (be they from Mexico, Mars, or County Mayo) to diminish the downward pressure on wages for less-educated or less-skilled American workers — many of whom are Hispanic or black.
    • Prevent U.S. employers from reversing decades of social progress in improving the wages and working conditions of the American working class.
    • Reform laws and policies that unjustly benefit non-citizens at the expense of citizens, or the wealthiest Americans at the expense of our poorest countrymen.
    • Eliminate the most irrational criteria for selecting whom we admit to our country, and instead offer entry to immigrants who meet America’s needs.
    • Abolish programs that — intentionally or not — retard the assimilation into American society of newly arrived immigrants, or perpetuate ethnic ghettos.
    • Expose and overturn America’s unspoken policy of outsourcing child-rearing to families from other countries.
    • Attain a just and charitable outcome for those individuals who have illegally entered, lived, and worked in the U.S. for significant lengths of time — some of whom have children with American citizenship.

    If any reader considers that these goals are inherently unjust, or incompatible with binding, Magisterial teaching, they’d better have a darned good argument as to why. They should take full account of the Church’s principle of subsidiarity, summed up here by Pope John Paul II:

    Smaller social units — whether nations themselves, communities, ethnic or religious groups, families or individuals — must not be namelessly absorbed into a greater conglomeration, thus losing their identity and having their prerogatives usurped. (Sixth Session, Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Feb. 23, 2000)

    That’s an excellent description of what happens to local communities when the Federal government neglects its duty to patrol international borders. As a result, overtaxed towns — from their hospital emergency wards to their public schools — bear the brunt of social problems in other countries, radically changing the American towns’ cultural make-up and flooding historic communities with newcomers whose customs, language, and civic heritage displace what had come before. Pope John Paul knew whereof he spoke — remembering the centuries when German princes flooded Polish lands with settlers, as a prelude to claiming those lands.

    With this in mind, my critics should show why a democratic government should not first pursue the Common Good within its own jurisdiction — while showing charity toward foreign residents through generous trade agreements, carefully targeted foreign aid, and voluntary “fair trade” programs through which consumers use their purchasing power to foster economic development abroad. These critics should take full account of the classical Catholic teaching formulated by Aquinas that beyond the stark demands of justice we owe the most to our families, then to our nearest neighbors, then to our countrymen — and least of all (though still a significant amount) to strangers who are represented by foreign governments.

    If people wish to deny this principle, and suggest that (for instance) parents are obliged to deny their own children anything beyond the bare necessities of life and Christian education, for the sake of supporting (for example) foreign missions… well, I doubt they will find many adherents. Or for that matter, anyone willing to marry them and raise offspring in such conditions. So I guess that intellectual mutation is counter-adaptive, and I needn’t worry about it too much.

     

    Granting that the goals I laid out are not un-Christian, racist, eugenicist, or any of the other pejoratives that so readily fly from the lips of open-borders advocates, one might argue about their prudence. For evidence in their favor, click on the handy links I included in each of my points for supporting studies or testimonies — and decide for yourself.

    For this week, my task is to lay out practical steps for attaining these goals, consistent with the intrinsic dignity of all the people involved. (I know that at this point I should say “human persons,” as a hat-tip to personalism, but it sounds so goofy that I think it uncharitable to readers.)

    Here they are:

    1. To secure the U.S. border, we must complete a reliable border fence dividing the U.S. from Mexico — the source of most illegal immigration. This fence should not rely on natural “advantages” such as “impassable” deserts and other hazards likely to claim the lives of desperate migrants. Indeed, in such areas the fence should be doubly secure, since the stakes are especially high — not just U.S. law, but human lives. We must also track the comings and goings of those who enter on U.S. visas, and overstay them — such as most of the 9/11 hijackers.
    2. Reduce the influx — legal and illegal — of under-educated and low-skilled immigrants. This can and should be done by altering U.S. immigration law to focus not on the vastly abused principle of “family reunification” (as extended to include adult siblings and grown-up offspring) but the demonstrated labor needs of the U.S. economy. And there’s an easy way to tell what kind of workers our country is short of — the wages they can command. If the wages and benefits of unskilled workers and high-school dropouts were soaring, that would indicate a labor shortage and might (all things being equal) justify importing more such workers from abroad. In fact, the wages of the U.S. working class, adjusted for inflation, have been flat for some 30 years.
    3. To prevent U.S. employers from reversing decades of social progress by bidding down the wages and conditions of resident workers, cut the immigration totals for unskilled workers to fewer than 100,000 per year — making space in the economy for young, urban residents to find jobs, form families, and escape the underclass.
    4. Reform laws and policies that unjustly benefit non-citizens. While millions of working Americans cannot afford health insurance or attain quality education for their children, it is simply unjust to allow illegal residents to obtain non-emergency medical care at taxpayer expense, or demand cost-prohibitive bilingual and multicultural programs. For instance, the practice of importing teachers from Mexico into the U.S. to teach immigrant students history using Mexican textbooks — as happens in California, Oregon, and Utah. It is also immoral to offer immigrants affirmative action preferences over citizens. As the law stands now, any non-white illegal immigrant who was legalized by an amnesty would benefit from positive discrimination against a U.S. Army veteran who happened to be white.
    5. Eliminate the most irrational criteria for admitting immigrants, such as Ted Kennedy’s “visa lottery,” which awards the citizenship whose value our soldiers fight to protect in a global bingo game. (See, he’s really a Catholic after all!)
    6. Reform “birthright” citizenship — through which a pregnant woman who swims the Rio Grande and gives birth is now the proud mother of a U.S. citizen. This encourages either family break-up or the mockery of our laws.
    7. Abolish programs that retard assimilation. This includes ineffective bi-lingual education, but extends through the whole range of “diversity” programs that reward new Americans for continuing to hyphenate their loyalties.
    8. Overturn America’s unspoken policy of outsourcing child-rearing. Whenever an open-borders advocate tells you that Americans aren’t having enough children to [fund Social Security... grow our economy... maintain global dominance, whatever], think about what that really means. He admits that our current culture, tax, and social policies are anti-family — to the point where Americans are barely reproducing themselves. Instead of reforming these policies to bolster American families, it’s easier simply to outsource child-rearing to other countries.
    9. Attain a just and charitable outcome for those individuals who have illegally entered, lived, and worked in the U.S. This probably will never entail mass deportation — but rather a crackdown on employers who exploit illegal workers. As one of the respondents to my last piece wisely suggested, we might well look to Law & Order for an answer: Immigrants who report on the companies that illegally employ them could be spared deportation, and granted a fast-track to legal status. The only group of illegals which must be swiftly removed are those who commit other crimes.As for the remaining millions, as rational human beings they will respond to real-world incentives. When we squeeze out opportunities for them to work on the black market — without legal protection, safety inspections, health insurance or workman’s comp — through workplace enforcement of labor laws, many of them will return to their native lands where they can actually work. If our Congress could face down the cheap labor lobby, it would mandate the universal use of E-Verify, a currently voluntary government system for checking the legal status of job applicants.

    None of these policies are dehumanizing, cruel, or in any way contrary to Catholic teaching. Indeed, they are the bare minimum required to maintain our national security, the respect for just and legitimate law, and the well-being of our own working poor.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Bender

      If we are going to talk about Catholic teaching, then we must remember that the issues of immigrants, refugees, and illegal aliens are not limited to the United States, but is a problem throughout the world.

      It seems to me that the Holy Father, once again, has nailed it. We must exhibit charity toward all, including foreigners, but the foreigners themselves and their own home countries have moral responsibilities as well. This is not a one-way street, where only the destination country has obligations. Morality is for everyone.

      Remarks of Pope Benedict after the Angelus, August 31, 2008:

      In recent weeks the news has reported the growth in the episodes of irregular immigration in Africa. It is not rare that crossing the Mediterranean toward the European continent — which is seen as a place of hope to escape adverse and often unbearable conditions — ends in tragedy; what happened a few days ago seemed to surpass previous incidents in terms of the number of victims.

      Migration is a phenomenon that has been present from the dawn of human history, and it has always, for this reason, characterized the relations between peoples and nations. The emergency that migration has become in our times, nevertheless, calls out to us and, while it solicits our solidarity, demands, at the same time, effective political answers.

      I know that many regional, national, and international institutions are occupying themselves with the question of irregular migration: I applaud them and encourage them to continue this meritorious work with a sense of responsibility and humanitarian spirit. The countries of origin must also show a sense of responsibility not only because it is a matter of their own citizens, but also to remove the causes of irregular migration and cut off at the root all of the forms of criminality that are linked to these causes.

      For their part, European countries, and all other countries that are the destination of immigration, are called to, among other things, develop through consensus initiatives and structures that continue to adapt themselves to the needs of irregular migrants. The latter must be made aware, on the one hand, of the value of their own lives, which are a singular good, always precious, that should be safeguarded in the face of the grave risks that the pursuit of better situations exposes them to and, on the other hand, the duty of legality that is imposed on all.

      As the [Pope], I feel a profound obligation to recall everyone

    • Joe H

      I hope by being the first to comment, and with criticisms to boot, I’m not discouraging anyone else from giving their opinion, as someone else suggested on another thread. Surely Mr. Zmirak didn’t write this article in the expectation that no one would have anything critical to say. As far as I’m concerned, the people who have been having problems with the way these discussions have been going should perhaps try another website where the emphasis is on fun and games, and leave the serious discussions to the people who want to have them.

      Now unlike a lot of rabid anti-immigration folks, Zmirak addresses the problems of immigrants dying as they cross the deserts, either on foot or crammed into tiny spaces in vehicles (some of the “patriots” in this country have a “let ‘em die” approach).

      So what we have is an acknowledgment of the great lengths to which people are willing to go to come here. They are usually willing to risk their health and their very lives.

      Logic would seem to dictate that this means that the decision to illegally cross the boarder into the US is not a decision that is made lightly. It would seem to suggest that the economic pressures on the poor in Mexico are so great that their only viable option is to come to the United States.

      Yet none of the things Zmirak proposes are going to address the roots of this problem. When Pope Benedict says that it is primarily the United States’ responsibility to aid the developing world in solving these problems, he knows full well what he is talking about. He is talking about debt relief, he is talking about the policies of the IMF and the World Bank, he is talking about the massive disparities between poor and wealthy countries that the latter, through their policies, tend to perpetuate. These things were not mentioned by Zmirak. And yet until they are addressed, this problem will not go away.

      Another one of Zmirak’s top concerns is labor, and wages. Immigrants put downward pressure on wages, so the argument goes, and there is of course truth to it. But there is more than one way to address the problem.

      If a general amnesty were declared, then these newly-legal citizens would not be exploitable in the same way they were as non-citizens. They would have to be paid the minimum wage at least, they would have the right to organize into unions, they would be able to alert the proper authorities about workplace abuses without fear of deportation. This, too, would solve the wage problem, and probably faster than deportations and other draconian measures would.

      If the native American worker stood shoulder to shoulder with the immigrant worker, neither would be as easy to exploit, abuse, or degrade. Divided, of course, they will always be conquered.

      I can’t comment on everything because it would take too long, and surely some of you want to be spared reading anything more of what I have to say. In the end I am certainly not making the claim that Zmirak has strayed outside of the boundaries of Catholic morality, though the responsibility of the US and the other wealthy nations of the world is something that the Church HAS talked about and something Zmirak hasn’t.

    • Todd

      What Joe H said about labor and wages.

      #8 is a headscratcher, as it flies in the face of what Republican-supplied corporations want to do with our lives. The western goal is to consume, and if the family unit and communities can be divided in promoting this, so be it, say the Corporate Masters. They don’t care about fairness for anyone’s tax code but their own. I think Professor Zmirak is going to have to part company from his libertarian/conservative confreres to get serious about #8.

      I suspect that immigration reform is a bit more complex than a single writer’s set of talking points. There’s some decent stuff up there. There’s a lot of ready, aim, misfire, too.

      It was good to see something about businesses large and small that create the market for illegal workers. Not sure how it fits with the so-called un-skilled labor “bar.”

      Not impressed with cloaking this manifesto in Catholic social teaching. Much of this is in the realm of prudence. Which means there’s a lot of wiggle room to find the better answers.

    • Miguel Miramon

      John, without going into a lot of detail, I note your suggestions all involve “preventing”, “eliminating”, “securing”, etc. They involve someone (meaning government) doing something to other groups of people it sees as the “problem”.And, of course, whoever holds the reins of power in government will have the power to decide who the “problem” is even if they have the best of intentions (and we know what the road to hell is paved with).
      I live in the SW US and my family has been here for generations. I suppose I have a difficult time with the concept that we are doing our best to keep people of Hispanic culture out of an area that was traditionally Hispanic long before it was immorally and forcefully seized by the US. Yes, I suppose i have some sympathy for the “reconquistadores”. As long as we have a strong demand for labor from across the border and a willing supply from below the border it is going to be like keeping Romeo from Juliet.
      Immigrants have always been our strength. In a generation or two, the children of these illegals will also be the doctors, lawyers and engineers of this country.
      And you know what: it may not be a tragedy that American kids learn to speak Spanish!

    • Sid Cundiff

      #1 : recommendable

      #2, 3, and probably #9: With respect to the illegal, fair enough, but with respect to the legal, it is a scheme to take money out of my pocket. Anyone who is willing to work for less keeps prices lower, and lower prices are a good thing for everyone, including the workers, and especially families. This is even more true when the immigrant who works for less is also customer friendly, hard-working, eager to please, saving, and provident for his family — as are Latin American immigrants. And good working conditions were and are achieved by negotiation between management and labor, not by socialism, and implies a rich society, something socialism can’t achieve.

      #4 fair enough if applied to illegal. Otherwise, (1) racialist (the author himself uses

    • Oona

      Miguel said:

      And you know what: it may not be a tragedy that American kids learn to speak Spanish!

      There’s something so smug about that that I can’t let it go by. Why should Spanish be the default language? What about families who care about preserving their own heritage? What about Chinese, Jewish, Japanese, French, Italian, Polish and German families who send their kids to special schools or weekend lessons to learn Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, French, Italian, Polish or German? I know three families who send their kids to Greek school, for just that reason. There are sections of Brooklyn, NY where Russian should be the default language. Or Creole. Or Arabic. And you’re telling us that in addition to this, it wouldn’t be “a tragedy” for them to learn Spanish?

    • Sid Cundiff

      #8 recommendable but won

    • Eric G

      I have a Mexican friend (we’re both law students), and we’ve been debating this topic recently.

      He’s showing me these reams of documentation, to the effect that illegal immigrants contribute more to the economy than they take in social services, that they don’t commit a disproportionate number of crimes, that they do not depress wages, and how people have a natural-law right to “illegally” immigrate if they do so out of a real need to feed their families.

      Of course, I find opposing statistics, like those of Mr. Zmirak above, but I’m truly at a loss as to what to believe any more on this subject. I have to agree with my friend on the natural law part, but as to the net effects of immigration on the economy . . . IEvery side has their studies and their stats! I don’t know who to believe! It’s like the global warming debate . . .

      I might find myself to the left on this issue soon if I don’t get any clarification from someone or somewhere . . .

    • Ben

      Simple regulations are easier to manage than complex ones. In honor of a great aphorism, let’s ‘Keep it Simple (Stupid)’.

      1. You aren’t allowed in unless you show up at a check-point.
      2. Everybody who shows up at a check point is required to be identified/identifiable.
      3. If there is a warrant out for your arrest or you are a convicted felon – AND it isn’t in a country where the US has decided that the laws are a mockery of the human condition – you get arrested or turned away.
      4. Otherwise you are allowed in for as long as you want. Green cards are issued upon request; driver’s licenses follow.

      5. Only citizens are protected by the full bill of rights and are given any sort of medical care, social services, etc, EXCEPT for QUARANTINE AND/OR VACCINATION in case of a public health situation.
      6. Non-citizens are held to their own tax schedule.
      7. Achieving citizenship for a non-citizen requires significant effort, fluent English, and serious expense, with some exceptions for national security, human rights (to affirm and honor failed reformers oppressed and given asylum), or distinguished military service.

      8. Illegal aliens are detained and either deported, or for repeat offenders, put to hard labor, for life.
      9. Employers or others conspiring to import or employ illegal aliens (of which there would be relatively few, given that everybody but convicted felons are allowed in) would be punished very severely under RICO.

    • JH

      “To secure the U.S. border, we must complete a reliable border fence dividing the U.S. from Mexico — the source of most illegal immigration. This fence should not rely on natural “advantages” such as “impassable” deserts and other hazards likely to claim the lives of desperate migrants. Indeed, in such areas the fence should be doubly secure, since the stakes are especially high — not just U.S. law, but human lives. We must also track the comings and goings of those who enter on U.S. visas, and overstay them — such as most of the 9/11 hijackers.

      I am not against all fencing. IN fact the backers of immigration reform had that in their proposal. However the fences as proposed is not really a solution. A viable worker ID and system to track it(also that was in the legilstion last year) is where most money should be spent. The enormous Asian population of illegals did not get here by crossing the Mexican border

    • jh

      “Reduce the influx — legal and illegal — of under-educated and low-skilled immigrants. This can and should be done by altering U.S. immigration law to focus not on the vastly abused principle of “family reunification” (as extended to include adult siblings and grown-up offspring) but the demonstrated labor needs of the U.S. economy. And there’s an easy way to tell what kind of workers our country is short of — the wages they can command.

      I am afraid in this debate the terms under educated and low skilled is used way too often often feeding in sad sterotypes.

      If these folks were low skilled I don’t think they would be finding jobs. LEt me give a Hurricane Katrina example. Many of these “low skilled” and “under educated” immigrant came and rebuilt New Orleans and the Coast. I had a friend (he did not check his green card) that had work done on his house. THe guy brought his young son to learn the trade. Needless to say the guy said it was the best work he ever seen. Sadly I don’t think much of the returning population would have suddenally picked up the slack in that department.

      I have no problems with reforming family reunification. But I can think of two business where these “Under educated” and “unskilled” family folks have gone into very successful family business that are paying good tax dollars to the community

      Perhaps people should define what they mean by “under educated” and Unskilled”

      As for skilled highly educated employees it would be helpful if the major anti illingration lobbys in this country would stop fighting bringing these people in

    • jh

      “To prevent U.S. employers from reversing decades of social progress by bidding down the wages and conditions of resident workers, cut the immigration totals for unskilled workers to fewer than 100,000 per year — making space in the economy for young, urban residents to find jobs, form families, and escape the underclass. “

      What economic data backs up these very low and round number of 100,000 you are backing up.

      Question the Gulf Coast is ravaged. Again I find the term “unskilled” as I said before a red herring. However if we deport all the “unskilled folks” can I expect waves of the underclass to come down and fix the coast?

    • jh

      Abolish programs that — intentionally or not — retard the assimilation into American society of newly arrived immigrants, or perpetuate ethnic ghettos.

      I agree there could be some reform here.However sometimes I find the alleged problem here very overblown.

      As a Louisiana I laugh when I hear all these Italians and cajuns talks about how come these people can’t spoeak perfect English when I meet many their grandparents (good americans) whose English is very poor). That being said it is not 1920

      The best thing for assimilations is to get the population to move out to various parts of the country. That is happening but is being retarded to a great extent by not passing imigration reform.

      Agfain we have seen this before and theire is a natural process that works.

      ON a side note what about the Knights of Columbus that is a fine assimilation device and was crucial to past immigrants

    • jh

      I will hold off posting a while so not to take up all the comment section but I must respond to this

      “Granting that the goals I laid out are not un-Christian, racist, eugenicist, or any of the other pejoratives that so readily fly from the lips of open-borders advocates, one might argue about their prudence. For evidence in their favor, click on the handy links I included in each of my points for supporting studies or testimonies — and decide for yourself.”

      I agree that people that disagree on various parts of immigration reform should not be all be labeled racist, eugencist, or Un Christian.

      However that goes both ways. The term Open Borders Advocate is a shrill term that is not often accurate too whose use is mostly to inflame.

      I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that you do not belive in all fringe looniness. I am against utting people in boxes which is why in your last article I objected so strongly to you questioning Catholics Patriotism that might disagree with you.

      That being said it would be nice that if people making these arguments were not associated with Troublesome groups and blogs like VDARE. You scratch that and suddeally I am seeing links to Tanton Groups that are troublesome Council of Conservative Citzens and other disturbing oddities.

    • Joe H

      jh writes,

      “However that goes both ways. The term Open Borders Advocate is a shrill term that is not often accurate too whose use is mostly to inflame.”

      Thank you! I’m sick of that label, and I can think of no better word than “shrill” to describe it.

      I am encouraged by the number of responses here that take a critical and/or alternative view to the Lou Dobbs approach to immigration. We need to make sure that Catholics understand that we are not morally obligated to think this way about immigration and we may in fact have moral obligations to bend a little bit in the other direction.

      People complain about trads being “more holy than the Pope” but as soon as it comes to an issue like immigration then the complaint is that the Popes “don’t know enough to be competent” about an issue. Let’s take Benedict’s claim about US responsibility seriously. Until I looked for myself I didn’t realize what the full scope of his remarks were:

      “The fundamental solution [would be] that there is no longer any need to immigrate, that there are sufficient opportunities for work and a sufficient social fabric that no one any longer feels the need to immigrate. We all have to work for this objective, that social development is sufficient so that citizens are able to contribute to their own future.”

      Social fabric. Social development! Not, “everyone just needs to shut up and obey the law”, but everyone needs to work for this “objective”, to go after the root causes of excessive migration. On US responsibility:

      “On this point, I want to speak with the President, because above all the United States must help countries develop themselves. Doing so is in the interests of everyone, not just this country but the whole world, including the United States.”

      It’s not like this is some sort of infallible statement but I think it means that we Catholics should be able to rightly put the emphasis where it belongs – on the policies of the US government in the international arena – without being maligned by fellow Catholics.

      Thank you Benedict! First he validates the traditional mass, and now he makes it clear that on social doctrine he isn’t far from his predecessor, whom inspired me to come back to the Church through his writings.

    • Patrick Hall

      The root of the problem is continued Masonic/Satanic control of both the Mexican and American governments.

      As long as the Freemasons/Satanists remain in control, the social fabric of both countries will be continually ripped to shreds. Constant creative destruction is the goal of Freemasonry/Satanism.

      If Mexico were equally desirable in which to live, there would not be an influx of men leaving their families behind to work in the United States. A balance of immigration would be attained.

      Being that this is a fallen world in which we live, throwing off Masonic/Satanic rule of the New World would be a miracle that further proves the Divine Mission of the Church.

    • Opinionated Catholic

      Joe H

      Yeah that term drives me up the wall. I have no idea why many of us that were backing immigration reform (that gave increased border security, would have deported millions that could not have met the qualifictions, had workplace enforcement) were all called open border folks and people that did not respect AMerica Sovereignty!!!

      It is a tought issue that is for sure and the soolutions are not all black and white.

      The sticking point is what to do with those here and to be honest people screaming AMNESTY every five minutes does not help.

      I thought the immigration bill that was going through congress (or attempted to get out of the Senate ) was a good start. But even having the discussion and having ot go through the process was a huge threat and people felt it had to be killed by all means necessary.

      It was not our finest moment.

    • Sid

      Sorry my first post, “More NHNA signs”, was so poorly edited. I authorize its deletion and this put in place of it:

      #1 and #8: recommendable

      #2, 3, and probably #9: With respect to the illegal, fair enough, but with respect to the legal, it is a scheme to take money out of my pocket. Anyone who is willing to work for less keeps prices lower, and lower prices are a good thing for everyone, including the workers, and especially families. This is even more true when the immigrant who works for less is also customer friendly, hard-working, eager to please, saving, and provident for his family — as are Latin American immigrants. And good working conditions were and are achieved by negotiation between management and labor, not by socialism, and implies a rich society, something socialism can’t achieve.

      #4 fair enough if applied to the illegal. Otherwise, (1)racialist (the author himself uses

    • Tim Shipe

      My beef is that those who crave a huge Wall and massive new security measures- they are not addressing the root causes of rapid immigration from particular source nations. They are willing to throw billions of dollars (our tax monies, of course) in a fit of passionate patriotism. Meanwhile they studiously ignore the 800 lb. gorilla that Joe H. keeps throwing back at them- hello NAFTA et al!

      As Lou Dobbs wrote in his “War on the Middle-Class”- the Mexican people have been voting with their feet ever since NAFTA came down- this and other Free Trade Pacts were sold in large measure on their claims that they would turn the poorer countries into middle-class little Americas’ and pour cold water on the illegal immigration patterns- Hello?!

      This is something where all Clinton/Gore and most every Republican supporter has some serious explaining to do. Why hasn’t NAFTA turned Mexico into a comfort zone for hardworking Mexican workers?

      Why don’t we just try something first, before we start throwing billions of our dollars into Fortress America- let’s have our leaders re-negotiate NAFTA and any and all Free Trade Pacts, to have them work more like the Marshall Plan worked for Europe- you combine physical infrastructure projects and social service increased budgets, with economic initiative incentives and then let the genius of the people and the marketplace take off- you have no patience for crony capitalist models, and you back off the police state tendencies of entrenched oligarchies like in Mexico. It’s called People Power- not multinational corporate freedom raids on poor countries with corrupt leadership.

      Let’s try something like this with all parties engaged, the free press invited to take part in the proceedings, everything above board with Sunshine provisions- no secretive NAFTA courts and no denial of Labor Union, and Religious organization (Faith-based) participation. If we re-work NAFTA and give Mexican and other Central American workers here in the US a solid hope that their labor is actually going to be of mutual benefit to their families and their home nations- I think we will save a lot of money, and a lot of human suffering- with no walls, and no resort to a police state ourselves.

    • The Black Mantilla

      Everyone should read what The Pope said about this on August 31st, both Catholics and others. I’m asking myself how is it that I live in a world where The Pope has a more sensible and pragmatic view about economic and social policy than the people in Washington? That’s rhetorical: the answer is twofold. First, The Pope is looking at the situation globally, and you can call me Lady Bountiful, but the economic system that the US finds itself in is really global in nature (I like Shipe’s Marshall Plan idea, above). Both by the actions (and sometimes inaction) of our government and we do influence the economies of other nations, especially in this hemisphere. Any solution which fails to take our economic imperialism into account is doomed. Second, The Pope isn’t dependent upon donations from corporations to keep is job. I’m not saying everybody in Washington is bought and paid for…OK, maybe I am. They are. The Pope is untainted in this respect, and I hope he continues to address this topic. It’s refreshing to find someone so solution focused.

    • Tim Shipe

      Black Mantilla,

      You are on to something here- I recall when a friend of mine first starting giving me papal social encyclicals to read in the late 1980′s- they blew me away- I had been a pretty much by-the-numbers political American liberal- but the Church’s wisdom and ability to cut right through the tired liberal/conservative paradigm really opened my eyes. When considering a Church, I thought to myself, that the true Church of Christ, would have the ability to offer guidance that was consistent with Scripture and relevant to every generation to come. When I read the encyclicals I realized that the same Holy Spirit is moving throughout Catholic social doctrine to this day.

      It took me a while to find a measure of disillusionment however; when I found that the Church in America was reduced in many corners to the same liberal v. conservative BS that I thought I was escaping in my secular days. Apparently liberal Catholics think they are just fine without the Magisterium- especially Catholic university professors- and conservative Catholics seem to think that the only thing the Magisterium gets right when it comes to social doctrine and the application of such, is the intrinsic evils like abortion and gay marriage. They just love to run amuck when the subject of economics, role of government, environment, foreign relations and wars, immigration et al comes up. They make a lot of noise about being faithful Catholics who love the pope- but when the popes start talking about the above issues they suddenly find themselves distancing themselves from the popes, the Holy See, the American Bishops’ – in short the Hierarchies-

      Now it isn’t always the case that self-described “conservatives” openly deny the teachings or the social doctrine- many will claim to have read the documents and are applying the moral principles in good faith- perhaps- I have no way of judging their deep-down intent- but what makes me suspicious is that on matters mentioned above- they all get lumped into a nice, tight little bag called “prudential judgments” and even when the popes et al follow up on the official social teachings with speeches and direct comments offering their wise counsel on these other important political issues- they are often rebuffed or even ignored- or quoted in such a way that the larger point is obfuscated. In my humble opinion in any case-

    • Tim Shipe

      For example- I quote extensively from the social doctrine and encyclicals and for this I am criticized but I want to ensure that context is given for significant Church thinking on a particular subject. Now conservative economic advocates like to point to Thomas Woods as their chief defender- but when I read Woods in his own words- he seems very critical of the official Church in her ability to articulate a sound moral economy- he doesn’t seem to be saying that what he has found in his study of economics is right in line with the popes dating back to Rerum Novarum- no he is claiming that in many key ways his view is the scientific one and the popes are a little out-of-touch, or basing their economic teachings/counsel on bad input or false understandings. Now I think that this is where Woods and the conservatives have just simply got it wrong- I don’t think the popes are misleading me with their views on economics, Just War Doctrine applications, immigration relationship to Natural Law, and certainly not on abortion or gay marriage. I don’t think the Holy Spirit is somehow bypassing the Apostolic Church in all the social doctrine matters beyond the intrinsic evils- and allowing me to be deceived- that God really wants all of us to become American Conservatives when it comes to our politics- I really do believe that a sincere reading and absorption of the entire social doctrine of the Church will more likely lead one to be very cautious about cheerleading any ideology or political party- I wouldn’t put my name and reputation on the line for what McCain or Obama stand for- I will engage the process, work to reform both major parties- especially my own chosen Democratic Party- but I can

    • Tim Shipe

      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

      In light of the ambivalence of Catholic social teaching toward migration (it is a right, but is in some ways regrettable), it recommends a set of policies that guarantee the right, yet at the same time seek to make it less likely that the right will be exercised. Paul VI urges an international agreement to guarantee the right of emigration; according to John XXIII, one of the benefits of international peace between countries is that it makes migration easier, helping to guarantee the right. 9
      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

    • Tim Shipe

      Sorry- the first part of Prof. Yuengert’s (Pepperdine U.) article on Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration did not post before the conclusion- I’ll check back to see if it made it through later- If not I’ll re-send it- you can read the full article at the Acton Institute- just google this and Yuengert and you can find the article- I need to learn how to link in these com boxes- if anyone wants they can send me an email as a private tutorial- thanks-

    • Tim Shipe

      By the way I am a fan of Thomas Wood;s works other than his take on papal economics- I use his book- How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization- in my Church History classes quite extensively- I am also going to supplement using Dinesh D’Souza;s – What;s so great about christianity- as well-

      We should not fail to vigorously discuss all important political issues within orthodox Catholic circles- we can move beyond the ad hominem attacks, assume that everyone is of good will- but there is a lot of room for taking in all that the Church provides us in terms of teachings and with the Hierarchical commentaries and speeches- we must at least inform our orthodox Catholic consciences- and put forward the best possible policy initiatives. God Bless.

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