The Immigration Debate

Recently I engaged in a debate with John Zmirak on Inside Catholic regarding the status of Catholicism in modern America. Those who want to try and sort out the back and forth can go here to follow the exchange.

Particularly we disagree on the issue of immigration, but it seems there is a more fundamental disagreement as well. John was originally going to indirectly reply to some of my comments with another article on IC, but instead published his thoughts in Taki’s Magazine. Although he doesn’t mention me by name, he did say that our exchanged inspired him to write what he did.

The charges he levels against me, or at least those he assumes think like me, are amusing in their wild inaccuracy. The reader can examine for him or herself their specifics; the primary purpose of the second half of this polemic is to portray us as those who would sacrifice our children’s future out of a desire to extend mercy and charity to the undocumented workers that have come to our country seeking to support their own families.

My hope is that his final screed against the “modern American liberal” was intended for the faithless, a group distinct from those such as myself who are openly devout Catholics who simply disagree with his hierarchy of values.

The crux of the issue is indeed this hierarchy of values, this list of moral priorities that we hold as Christians and as Catholics. For Mr. Zmirak, family and country are at the top of the list; for me, unconditional charity and mercy for the least of our brothers and sisters are at the top. In their right order these values are not in conflict, but when they are put out of order everything becomes confused.

I believe that what I call “my” hierarchy of values is indeed the one already evident in the Gospels, the Catholic tradition, and modern Catholic social teaching. I didn’t invent my priorities; I radically altered them as I decided to follow Christ and join His Church.

In the first place it is undeniable that, according to the Gospels, we will be judged by Christ at the end of the world on the basis of how we treated the least of our brothers. In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25, Christ identifies Himself with every type of needy person: the hungry and thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the prisoner, the sick, and there is no reason to assume that the list is limited to these alone. With the inclusion of the prisoner, it is important to see that even “law breakers” are deserving of compassion and mercy (which is not the same as saying there should be no law or no consequence for violating it; more on that below).

Is it possible to rationalize one’s way out of this serious obligation? If it is, I can’t see how, and even if could, I can’t see why I or anyone else should want to. Now the devil, as they say, is in the details. We may disagree as to how best extend this mercy to our brothers and sisters. But what seems to me to be the first critical point of agreement is that we should always begin with is that we are dealing with human beings that have an inherent right to exist.

If we always keep this in mind, and if we always strive to see Christ in every needy person, we cannot fail to do our best to devise humane solutions to social problems. On this point our recent Holy Fathers have agreed. Mr. Zmirak’s attitude simply cannot be reconciled with, for instance, what John Paul II said so clearly on World Migration Day in 1996:

“The first way to help [illegal immigrants] is to listen to them in order to become acquainted with their situation, and, whatever their legal status with regard to State law, to provide them with the necessary means of subsistence.”

Imagine that – the very first thing we are to do is to listen. Not to react, not to horde, not to chase away, but to listen. The very next thing we must do is provide them with the necessary means of subsistence. There is nothing ambiguous here. Then there is a specifically Catholic duty the Pope outlines with respect to illegal immigrants as well:

“In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters.”

Mr. Zmirak sneers at the Catholic social principle of solidarity with respect to immigration, citing it as “dangerous” when it means what no one, least of all myself, has ever suggested: forcing one’s children to go to a school that doesn’t meet their standards. This is not how solidarity is ever to be understood. That being said, it most certainly is to be extended even to the illegal immigrant:

“Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble. For Christians, the migrant is not merely an individual to be respected in accordance with the norms established by law, but a person whose presence challenges them and whose needs become an obligation for their responsibility. “What have you done to your brother?” (cf. Gn 4:9). The answer should not be limited to what is imposed by law, but should be made in the manner of solidarity.” (emphasis added)

By what right therefore does Mr. Zmirak begin hurling around proclamations that begin with “we may not”, when it is clear that he he is either unfamiliar or indifferent to statements made about this subject by the highest authorities in the Church?

Like the leftists who wish to circumvent Catholic teaching on sexuality and life issues out of a regard for what is practical, a false assumption of “how things really are”, Zmirak and those who share his views do the same with respect to immigration policy. Pope Benedict recently took a lot of heat over the AIDS controversy in Africa, but even before that Republican politicians such as Tom Trancredo were attacking him over his views on immigration, which are similar to JP II’s.

Does the Church call for open boarders or some other disastrous policy in response to the immigration problem? Of course not. The USCCB has clearly stated in its own documents on immigration that boarder control is not a sin, and in fact is a duty of the State. I agree. At some point there must have been some confusion over what my policy aims are, since I do not oppose border control, especially if it is done in conjunction with policies that will address the root causes of illegal immigration.

The critical question is what we are to do with the immigrants who are already here, and those that may come here illegally in the future, since totally sealed boarders and mass deportations are an impossible fantasy – and would present a moral hazard even if they were not. To me the answer is clear: we are to meet the human needs presented before us with mercy and charity, and nothing else.

It is not immoral to impose penalties for violating immigration law, but the punishment must fit the crime; my solution is fines that can be paid out over time or other forms of restitution, and in accordance with what the Church has firmly taught, never any punishment that would break up a family and leave them destitute. This has nothing to do with long-term policies to control the flow of immigration, though as we formulate those we still have to begin from that fundamental standpoint of the human person.

If the argument is that we are absolutely being forced to choose between our families survival and welcoming the stranger, then I reject that argument as a false premise. I seriously doubt that Mr. Zmirak’s family is living in a cardboard box because an illegal immigrant took a job from him, though if I am wrong I will certainly apologize for the erroneous assumption.

What is really at stake is an “American way of life” that is several times wealthier than anyone else’s way of life anywhere in the world. I don’t accept that illegal immigration poses a serious threat to American wages for many reasons I won’t go into here. But let’s say for the sake of argument that it might mean more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fewer trips to the restaurant. It might mean shopping at Wal-Mart for clothes instead of The Gap. It might mean any downward adjustment in lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean destitution or homelessness.

We must therefore keep in mind what John Paul II wrote elsewhere, and here, he only echoed with all previous Pontiffs writing on social questions had argued:

“This is the culture which is hoped for, one which fosters trust in the human potential of the poor, and consequently in their ability to improve their condition through work or to make a positive contribution to economic prosperity. But to accomplish this, the poor — be they individuals or nations — need to be provided with realistic opportunities. Creating such conditions calls for a concerted worldwide effort to promote development, an effort which also involves sacrificing the positions of income and of power enjoyed by the more developed economies.

This may mean making important changes in established life-styles, in order to limit the waste of environmental and human resources, thus enabling every individual and all the peoples of the earth to have a sufficient share of those resources” (Centesimus Annus, 52)

Nowhere have I seen the Popes even consider as valid the argument that extending mercy and charity to the illegal immigrant, or even this more general call for sacrifice on the part of the wealthy nations, conflicts with one’s obligations to one’s family. If it did, we may presume they wouldn’t have said such things to begin with.

106 Responses to The Immigration Debate

  • Let me apologize in advance for the formatting errors! I thought I had it all sorted out when I published it, but its my first time, so I hope you can all forgive some of the sloppiness, and the absence of emphasis where I indicated it ought to be :(

  • I fixed whatever formatting errors I saw.

  • Thanks!

  • Dear Mr. Hargrave,

    Thank you for this articulation of the Church’s position. It is helpful to clearly state the moral backbone of practical discussions.

    Might I coax you to take this a step farther?

    Forgive me for stating a few underlying assumptions.

    We should, in my opinion, assume that:

    1. There are at least 15 million persons present in the US without lawful status.
    2. At least 1 million of those persons have committed criminal charges for which they have either been convicted for which there are open warrants for their arrest.
    3. At least another 3 million are either presently in Removal Proceedings or have a final order to leave the United States.
    4. At least half of those persons have little or no education and are functionally illiterate in their native language.
    5. At least half of those persons have no skills marketable in the American economy.
    6. There are at least 3 times as many persons abroad who would quickly make the trip to the US if they thought they could be included in any proposed remedy.

    Would it be too much to ask for you to apply your thesis to these challenges and to lay out a rough draft of what an ethically sound immigration policy would look like?

  • You don’t ask too much, but I’m not sure if I agree with all of your assumptions. The website “Justice for Immigrants”, part of a Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, busts a lot of myths about immigration here:

    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/myths.html

    No policy can adequately address this problem. The structure of the global economy is responsible for migration patterns, a system that is largely out of the control of any one government. Any policies I propose would begin with these assumptions:

    1. Immigration, legal and illegal, will continue.
    2. It is neither practical nor ethical to take the sort of extreme measures that would be necessary to seal the boarders.
    3. Assimilation is therefore the only realistic policy. We already have special teaching programs aimed at low-income areas such as “Teach for America”, and these efforts could be expanded and focused on teaching English to immigrants.
    4. Along the same lines, the sooner these people become citizens, the sooner they can form unions or at least demand their basic rights as American workers, thus nullifying the wage and tax issues.
    5. The issue of crime can’t be used to hamstring genuine immigration reform. Let murderers be punished as murderers, regardless of their status.
    6. The vast majority of these immigrants are Catholics and so the Church can play a major role in these efforts. It wouldn’t kill us to learn Spanish either. If we serve our brothers and sisters through the Church, God will reward us.

  • I have long thought that immigration and economic policy is a moral weak spot for conservatives in much the same way that right to life, family and sexuality issues are the liberals’ weak point.

    In response to G-Veg, I assume that an ethically sound immigration policy would include the following:

    Illegal/undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes (punishable by jail or prison time) should be subject to deportation. Those who are currently under orders to leave the U.S. should leave.

    Those who have little or no education should (if they are able bodied and of sound mind) be required to learn English to at least a functional level as a condition for any kind of legalization of their status. (I would make an exception for elderly or disabled who are being cared for by relatives with legal resident or citizen status.)

    As for your assertion that half of all illegal immigrants “have no skills marketable in the American economy,” if that is true, why are they here and what are they doing to support themselves? I do not believe they are all drug dealers or some other type of professional criminal. Are you referring to unskilled agricultural or factory workers? If so, then I suggest that legal guest worker or temporary worker programs designed for such people be expanded to meet the demand.

    I do believe there must be a balance between a hard-line policy of deporting all illegal/undocumented with absolutely no regard for their situation, and a no-questions-asked open-border policy. I suggest a policy that makes legal immigration easier AND consistently enforces consequences for breaking the law; once this is in place, illegals who are able to do so could be made to return to their native country and start the legal immigration process over again.

  • The question I asked elsewhere. Given that Catholic Social Teaching also teaches that the state has a right to limit immigration, what is the right level of immigration for the US? What level will make a just immigration policy?

  • The Corproal Works of Mercy

    * To feed the hungry;
    * To give drink to the thirsty;
    * To clothe the naked;
    * To harbour the harbourless;
    * To visit the sick;
    * To ransom the captive;
    * To bury the dead.

    The Spiritual works of Mercy

    * To instruct the ignorant;
    * To counsel the doubtful;
    * To admonish sinners;
    * To bear wrongs patiently;
    * To forgive offences willingly;
    * To comfort the afflicted;
    * To pray for the living and the dead.

    All begin at home, within the family. To begin with the other, especially the illegal alien, is an error many liberals make.

    I think that if Mr. Zmirak intended to direct his polemic against you personally, he would have used your name. He is not shy.

    Brother, I think you are trying to corral a chimera. IOW, I do not think you grasp what Zmirak is writing.

    You begin by writing;

    ” Although he doesn’t mention me by name, he did say that our exchanged inspired him to write what he did.”

    and then you proceed as though he was directing his argument against you personally:

    “The charges he levels against me, or at least those he assumes think like me, are amusing in their wild inaccuracy.”

    I suppose you can court insult and injury but, speaking for myself, I don’t have to romance any stones.

    Enough real ones exist.

  • 2. It is neither practical nor ethical to take the sort of extreme measures that would be necessary to seal the boarders.

    I reject this assertion on it’s face. If the state has a right/obligation to maintain order and limit immigration to levels which will support the common good then the borders must be secured. Period. This is in no way related to the question of how many immigrants is enough, unless YOU think it’s good to have illegal immigrants who subject to all sorts of exploitation by their employers, their fellows and criminals at large?

    3. Assimilation is therefore the only realistic policy. We already have special teaching programs aimed at low-income areas such as “Teach for America”, and these efforts could be expanded and focused on teaching English to immigrants.

    Not a fair assumption that the taxpayers should welcome, feed and clothe the stranger but also educate him? This would be great place to expand the efforts of charitable institutions though.

    4. Along the same lines, the sooner these people become citizens, the sooner they can form unions or at least demand their basic rights as American workers, thus nullifying the wage and tax issues.

    Absurd, there’s no need or reason to accelerate the citizenship of any guest. A guest worker or green card holder in this country possesses all of the rights of American workers, pays taxes and is protected by all laws. The only difference is voting which rightly is reserved for those who have shown through many years of LAWFUL presence and becoming a contributing member of society, developing strong ties to and interest in the United States. What you’re suggesting is a reversal of this principle, that in order to be contributing members they must be citizens. Is it really just an attempt to grow the constituency of people generally dependent on government aid and thus likely to support socialist policies which increase that aid…

    5. The issue of crime can’t be used to hamstring genuine immigration reform. Let murderers be punished as murderers, regardless of their status.

    So, not only should the taxpayers feed, cloth and educate the stranger we must now rehabilitate him when he commits crimes in this country? Absurd. Any felon should, after serving sentence be deported forthwith to his home country.

    6. The vast majority of these immigrants are Catholics and so the Church can play a major role in these efforts. It wouldn’t kill us to learn Spanish either. If we serve our brothers and sisters through the Church, God will reward us.

    The Church should play a HUGE role in helping bring legitimate immigrants here and helping them to assimilate, on this we agree, in fact this has been done for many years, it would be a far better focus then socialist political activism. Not sure it helps people to assimilate by giving them “immersion” in their native language when the language of upward mobility in the US is English and certainly will remain so for a long time. Interestingly, I travel regularly to St. Louis and there is a large number of Polish taxi drivers who were brought there in the 80′s by Catholic Charities, they are all Americans now.

    Elaine K,

    consistently enforces consequences for breaking the law; once this is in place, illegals who are able to do so could be made to return to their native country and start the legal immigration process over again.

    Absolutely! It is completely ridiculous that people who have been waiting for years to come here legally are made to wait for those who have come here illegally. Perhaps though, a temporary worker program (contingent on a spotless record) that allows them to remain a couple of years in preparation for returning home to complete the process would ease the impact on the migrant and society.

  • Mr. Hargrave,

    With respect, the distance between moralism and sound policy is large and I again ask you to bridge it in your argument.

    Ms. Krewer,

    Thank you for providing a partial answer my question.

    The marketable skills statement was shorthand for a much more complex argument about the skills necessary to advance the economy beyond the 20th century economy that is faultering. It was meant to suggest that, at a minimum, a person who is not able to read or write and has limited skills with digital technology is at a significant disadvantage and provides limited “value” to the economy.

    (I acknowledge that this is “harsh” in the sense that, but for the grace of God, each of us would be living in a box or worse.)

    Moralism is inspiring but ineffectual if it fails to address the practical problems a society faces.

    More particularly, I take issue with the suggestion, by many fellow Catholics that the immigration system is fundamentally unfair or disrespectful of human rights. This is simply not true.

    Many of the persons unlawfully present entered the US through fraud. Is this a small enough crime that we should ignore it? Many others entered by knowingly enriching smugglers who also trade in drugs, sex, and weapons. Doesn’t this bring some degree of moral culpability to the table? Many of those unlawfully present are previous deportees. Doesn’t a legal adjudication carry weight in the discussion? And what of those who are using the identity of our fellow citizens and permanent residents to work illegally? Don’t these acts, roundly considered to includ moral turpitude, mitigate the moral burden heaped on the United States for this supposed poor treatment?

    Unquestionably, a nation has an obligation to treat guests, welcome or no, fairly under the law. But, how is it immoral to deny those unlawfully present permission to work, obtain a free education, and obtain public assistance? Is an injustice visited upon our own citizens or permanent residents to enjoy benefits that regulation bars them from? Surely a society has a right, perhaps even a duty, to exclude?

    Stepping down from the soap-box…

    What is so very wrong in conducting a worksite raid?

    A company knowingly hires persons without permission to work, knowing that doing so provides the company with insurance against work stopage. Employees that HAVE permission to work call in a tip and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Department of Labor (DOL) conduct preliminary checks, thereby determining that labor and immigration laws are most likely being violated by the company. ICE and DOL execute a raid, checking the identity and documents of persons found on site and instituting proceedings against the company. Those without valid work status are placed into removal proceedings (there is, on average, an 18 to 24 month time before reaching a final decision to deport someone) where they can argue for permission to remain in the US permanently. Those placed into removal proceedings are granted legal status to work. (It is a curious thing that working illegally can get you into removal proceedings but being placed into removal proceedings will get you permission to work legally.) Immigration Judges are famously “pro-immigrant” and Congress is constantly tweaking the law to grant groups temporary halts in removal such as NACARA, TPS, etc.

    So, pray tell, what is morally reprehensible in this? What about the execution of an immigration officer’s sworn duty justifies condemnation?

    If your argument is solely that successive waves of illegal immigration has dminished the capacity of our government to effectively enforce law, then it is not a moral complaint that you are lodging but, rather, a practical argument that it is simply better policy to once again grant amnesty to as broad a group of law-breakers as we can stomache and hope that, this time, it will be a real remedy and not merely a placebo.

  • CORRECTION

    Above, I stated that “[t]hose placed into removal proceedings are granted legal status to work.”

    This is true in MANY cases but not all.

    If one fits one of the definitions contained in 8 CFR 274.a.12, one is entitled to work authorization.

  • I really want to be charitable and generous with my fellow Catholics, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I am saddened, and hurt, not at some of the rather crude misunderstandings directed at me – those I find amusing – but rather by the fact that some of your hearts are so hardened that you skip directly to those crude misunderstandings, apparently not understanding at all what lies at the heart of the Church’s teaching on immigration.

    Yes, I get it: some of you are hard-nosed, practical men, you want practical solutions to practical problems in a practical world, and you don’t want to be troubled with the lamentation of the women or the moralizing of the effeminate scholar.

    But you act as if I personally made these arguments, that I personally told you that your views are misguided. You avoid and dance around the fact that some of the greatest leaders in the history of our Church have set the tone of the immigration debate, men who understand Scripture and Tradition better than any of do or and likely ever will.

    When you heap your accusations and wild theories upon me, you heap them upon them.

    Matt McDonald, did you even READ the original post, or did you skip right to the com boxes? Would you address John Paul II, whom I quoted four times in this article, the way you addressed me? Do you even care about what he or the USCCB or anyone else has to say, or is what originates somewhere in your brain the only thing that matters to you?

    “Spartacus”, are you completely ignorant of the fact that John wrote this on IC?

    “I will address all the well-meaning misunderstandings in Joe H’s piece in my next column here…”

    And later:

    “this conversation did inspire me to write something else”

    I.E. what I linked to?

    I realize that the two of you are the presidents of each other’s fan clubs, but I’m not making this story up. What he wrote had everything to do with our exchange.

    As for this:

    “All begin at home, within the family. To begin with the other, especially the illegal alien, is an error many liberals make.”

    You just don’t give a damn what the Bible says, or what Church teaching says, do you? You and Zmirak think you can just make up whatever you like, insert your own little phrases, and be done with it. No one says this anywhere, no one of authority, importance or intelligence.

    Jesus Christ did not say, “that which you did for your family, you did unto me”, he said “the least of my brothers”! You have no Scriptural basis for your claims, and I am certain you will find nothing in the documents of the Church.

    You have only your own propaganda, your own fears and yes, your own prejudices to guide you, the “facts” of a Rush Limbaugh or some other demagogue looking for a scapegoat. Why should any faithful Catholic who cares about what their faith teaches on so critical an issue ever listen to either one of you?

    Phillip,

    “Moralism is inspiring but ineffectual if it fails to address the practical problems a society faces.”

    How can we ever form policies if a whole country’s moral compass is broken? How can we expect to survive as a society at all if we have completely lost our moral way? You and I aren’t law makers. The best policies we could craft would not be implemented. How is it practical to tinker around with fully formed policy proposals that we can do nothing with?

    Even if we could write up some master proposal and get some prominent politician to sign off on it – if we lived in such a fantasy land (and I’m the impractical one) – we would still have a moral problem on our hands. To assume that moral problems can be solved simply by policies is wrong. The solution to every social problem, as I have learned only with great difficult but finally with great joy and hope, is in our hearts.

    Only when we have the proper disposition can we hope to formulate policies that will be humane and just. I suggest we begin by taking JP II’s advice and seeing in the illegal immigrant a special challenge, whose needs we take on as our own responsibility.

  • Mr. Hargrave,

    The statement that you attribute to Phillip appears to have been mine.

    You posed a moralist position, admittedly based upon Church teaching, and we now ask how such a position should be implemented. This is reasonable and fair.

    No one is asking for a master proposal or even that such ideas be able to be implemented. You are being asked to do two things: 1) support the assertion that, with regards to immigration, America’s “moral compass” is broken and 2) provide a framework for implementing your views of Church teaching.

    As to the first, since the injustice that you assert to be so profound as to require immediate remedy is caused by a system you assert to be broken, we ask “how shall we fix it?” As to the second, the only constraints seem to be your own imagination.

    It is well and good to quote Pope Benedict XVI and JPII but they did not offer practical guidance on how to implement Church teaching. If you wish to infuse your view of the Church’s teaching into the immigration debate, you need to do more than merely restate it. You need to offer at least a baseline on which policy should be crafted.

  • Great post.

    The plans that werre advocated the last two years were all very sensible. Sadly there was a contigent that said NO NO NO. I think we might see what real amnesty is going to be like. I never understood the political chess game some people thought they were playing last time. It was a losing hand.

    I am geting pretty tired of being called an open border fantatic and worse. The plane that Bishops got behind and would have been tought(millions would have been deported) and got to the root of some of the problems. It would have also been fair and moral for the most part.

  • G-Veg

    I thinkwe had a good understand at least as to Benedict that the Vatican was not dismissive at some of the Reform Proposals

    What in practical terms. Well the Louisiana Bishops much like other Bishops gave an outline

    http://takingbackthesacred.blogspot.com/2008/05/catholic-bishops-of-louisiana-comment.html

    The problem is with the people here. Also the major problem that many of these illegals are now in families of mixed legal status which makes a Tancredo approach not only immoral but unworkable

  • Allow me to apologize to Phillip for the mistaken quote. Got a little mixed up there.

    G-Veg,

    When it is evident that SO many people don’t even have the right attitude or framework, it does need to be restated.

    I’m not sure what you want from me in the way of policy. I support some of the ideas that have already been proposed, and have already said so – a path to citizenship, reasonable fines that will not excessively burden immigrant families as a penalty for breaking the law, more concerted efforts to secure the boarder in the future while addressing the economic problems along the Mexican boarder.

    I am not a lawmaker, I am a Catholic, and as such I think my responsibility is to point out what what I think the moral LIMITS on any such plan or proposal ought to be. Within those limits I and everyone else ought to be flexible.

  • I’m still confused as to what you consider “immoral” about the present situation. Is it the enforcement of the law as it is now or the law itself? (If it is only a dispute about the efficiency and practicality of the law then we are on the wrong discussion.)

    The question matters because the answer directs where one’s attention must be focussed in righting the wrong. Surely Catholic teaching includes doing more than sitting on the sidelines? If so, what is the injustice that needs to be fixed and from where does it flow?

  • Not hard-nosed. Even Catholic Social Teaching acknowledges that the world is not perfect, that a utopian society cannot be established, and that changing societies flaws is a slow process. That being the case, a Catholic layman is left with practical, imperfect and limited solutions at times.

    Catholic Social Teaching also recognizes that justice is directed by prudence. Thus practical considerations.

  • G-Veg,

    I don’t believe immorality is the property of a “situation”, but rather the thoughts and actions of individuals.

    The present situation is that we continue to straddle the fence between reform and something far uglier that I don’t wish to see take place: mass deportations, the break up of families, the potential loss of lives that could ensue. In the meantime immigrants here are denied humane treatment by employers, exploited and abused, and then reviled by a significant segment of the population.

    What is required first is a conversion of heart, and I firmly believe, Catholic unity on the question. Policy disagreements we may have, but only within the moral parameters, and on the basis of the moral foundation, laid by the Church. You may not think that attitude and disposition are as important as the concrete policy proposal. But if you do, I think you are mistaken. To me what is most important, prior to policy, is how we see the immigrant, how we envision his rights.

    It is evident that many people, even many American Catholics, do not have the right attitude about this, and as such their policy proposals will not reflect a Catholic moral position. I don’t think we can make any progress until we look at immigrants as a part of the human family, as our brothers and sisters, and treat them with love and respect. That hasn’t happened yet.

  • I would also add the immigrant’s duties. These go hand in hand according to CST.

  • I would also add that most (all?) of what people have discussed has not contradicted CST. Its just applying all of its subtleties that are lost at times in rhetoric.

  • Phillip, I disagree. Do you really think the attitudes on display here can be reconciled with what John Paul II taught as quoted in my original piece?

  • What John Paul taught must be incorporated into the totality of CST. The right of the state to limit immigration, that an immigrant has duties and not just rights, that cultural and economic considerations can be taken into account in immigration limits, that policy is practical and not utopian, and that change takes time are all aspects of CST.

  • My heart definately needs conversion. Who is it among us that doesn’t. However, I take exception to the idea that there is some underlying thread of inhumane views regarding immigrants in neither seeing a legal injustice that needs to be addressed and wanting to delay immigration policy changes until such a time as we have a better plan of action. This newly fired-up debate smacks of being a knee-jerk reaction, not the least of which because our legislators have no more idea about the numbers of persons we are talking about or the policy changes that would be truly helpful than we do.

    Let me state quite clearly that I am Catholic and believe wholeheartedly that Christ meant to challenge us when taught that what we do to the least of our brothers we do to Him. Let me go further to say that immigrants and immigration are more of a blessing than a burden – that like finding out one’s wife is pregnant after losing one’s job, the mixed feelings tell us no more about the blessedness of the situation than does the strength of the wind.

    But, that one is blessed with a child or with immigrants does not change the fact that both present challenges for which the rational mind was the tool that God intended us to employ. Tears, thumping our chest, and waxing poetic won’t find a job or provide guidance on crafting a durable immigration policy.

    Pray and express sentiment but turn your mind to the practical too for I assure you that there are darker forces at work on both sides of the immigration debate who couldn’t care less about the teachings of the Church.

  • G-Veg,

    Well said.

  • G-Veg,

    I too appreciate what you have said, but I just want to repeat that I’m not a policy maker. I have always thought about things from a theoretical and moral perspective, and with respect to policy proposals, my concern is whether or not they fall within an appropriate framework, not in the details.

    Blame my Meyers-Briggs personality type if you like, it’s an INTP thing. Without the framework, we have nothing. We have formless content without a shape or a shell.

    I don’t think it is wrong at all to focus on the wrong attitude, which I think Zmirak and his follower possess. I don’t think they base themselves in the teachings of the Church, I think they are dangerously close to those “darker forces” you mention, and I think that in turn is a danger to Catholic unity on the question.

  • Here’s the problem. G-Veg and I are those “nuts and bolts” kind of guys. The theoretical must be made practical in society. Doesn’t make us acting contrary to the Church. That’s what laymen are called to do.

  • Skimming the TakiMag piece, I agree with you in finding fault with it. In part because I think that it’s economics simply don’t work. (I’d argue that both immigrants and the US end up better off in the long run, as the large population creates more wealth.) His comments do strike me as fairly standard paleo-conservative fare, but then, I tend to tread that neo/traditionalist borderland in conservatism.

    However, I think your commenters here are bringing up some pretty valid concerns and you’re perhaps being a little hard on them.

    First, while I actually agree with you that we should be looser in our immigration policies, it strikes me that you do have a bit of a moralistic do-loop here in that once one asks oneself, “Should we care more about our lifestyles or doing the right thing for our brother’s and sisters” there’s simply no end. It’s like asking yourself, “Am I spending enough hours volunteering to help others.” You can always volunteer more, and it will never be enough to fill all the need in the world, yet at a certain point (even if one is shockingly well off) one does start to shortchange one’s direct obligations.

    Second, the path to citizenship question is genuinely thorny, and I’m sure what sort of answer can work. You mention fines which are not enough to permanently impoverish, yet make the point that one must obey the law. And yet, if the fines aren’t enough to impoverish you, they may well seem like a good deal to someone who would otherwise be living in poverty in Central America. Rather than imposing a fine, you might find yourself simply providing a “get out of following the law” fee.

    I see how deportation seems like an inhuman option (and I don’t necessarily support it except for those who have committed other crimes than just sneaking into the country) but any punishment short of that may well look like a better deal than following the law.

    And we should keep in mind, while punishing illegal immigrants (whether through deportation or some other penalty) may seem like it is merely being hard on them, there is a pretty real sense in which those who sneak into the country (and those who encourage that behavior) are responsible for the continuing stalemate on immigration reform. When we know that a million or more people are sneaking into the country illegally every year, it’s hard to make the case for doubling or tripling the number who can come in legally. So by breaking the law, illegal immigrants hurt many who are equally in poverty who are hesitant (rightly) to break the law.

  • “…but any punishment short of that may look like a better deal than following the law.”

    What if we significantly expand the time before they can become naturalized citizens?

  • Given that I’m being grouped with “dark forces” that frighten Mr. H, I’m tempted to feed his moral hysteria by commenting simply, “What I have written, I have written.” He’s clearly out of his depth here, which is why he’s shouting and pounding the table. However, for the benefit of other readers, I’ll offer here the other pieces I have written that address the economics and moral principles involved in this serious policy question.

    First the principles:
    http://tinyurl.com/6hjlpm

    Then the policies:
    http://tinyurl.com/dj8ycg

    And finally, the voices of Pope Benedict and the Catechism:
    http://tinyurl.com/ch4qzo

    I really have nothing further to add to any of that, other than to congratulate most of the commenters here for their cogency, charity, and patience.

  • What if we significantly expand the time before they can become naturalized citizens?

    Not to be cynical, but how much does that really sting?

    I’m honestly not sure what’s a good answer, though the best I can think of would be introducing a national ID card system and giving one to anyone currently legally able to work in the country, and to all those who legally come in in the future (hopefully with significantly larger quotas), and hoping those left out will choose to go out and come back in legally.

    But I’m sure lots of holes could be poked in that idea too. It’s simply a messy problem.

  • I don’t know. But if one extended the time to say, 15 or 20 years of legal residency, it might sting. At least those who are using this issue cynically to gain votes in a near-future election.

  • I guess my ultimate point is that citizenship is more than birth or proximity. It involves rights and duties. Duties which are as essential as rights. The illegal immigrant has shown, if not contempt, at least a disregard for this concept of duties. There may be good and perhaps even just reasons for this. But the extended time may help foster such respect where it is absent. Just a musing.

  • path to citizenship

    Why does the illegal immigrant have to have a “path to citizenship” at all? I believe our obligations to help the stranger could be completely met without citizenship for those who broke the law and pushed their way to the front of the line? A green card would provide all the benefits needed to secure a good life here for oneself and one’s family.

    Furthermore, why is it that liberals always propose that the options are reform or mass deportation? I have not seen ANY commentator here or much of anywhere advocating for the mass deportation of 10-15 million illegal immigrants. Yes there are the Tancredo’s of the world, but I don’t hear them on this blog.

  • Illegal immigration is one of those issues where all the attention goes to people at one of the two extremes — the left-leaning activists who basically want open borders and blanket amnesty, or the right-leaning activists who insist that illegal immigrants are all inherently evil people who “sneaked across the border” in the middle of the night and pose a dire threat to the nation.

    In reality, immigration law is complicated and “sneaking” over the border is not the only way illegal immigrants enter the country. Some overstay their visas for various reasons. Some were brought to the U.S. as infants or children and have basically grown up as Americans, discovering only when they reach adulthood (and, perhaps, have gotten married or had children) that they are “illegal” and subject to deportation.

    A just immigration policy simply has to make allowances for different situations. Someone who is here illegally due to an honest mistake or oversight, or through no choice of their own (i.e. brought by their parents at a young age), or who has significant obligations to young children or elderly parents, should not be treated the same as a drug dealer or gang member with a long criminal record here and/or in their home country. However, some (not all) conservative-leaning immigration activists make no distinction and simply treat all illegals as if they were criminals.

  • Elaine,

    However, some (not all) conservative-leaning immigration activists make no distinction and simply treat all illegals as if they were criminals.

    I agree that we need to have the deportation hearings consider situations, I don’t think it’s wrong to consider anyone who knowingly commits a crime to be a criminal, that describes the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants.

  • Matt,

    Denying citizenship is another possibility. Just not one I wanted to think about.

  • Moral hysteria, Zmirak?

    This is absurd, coming from someone who can’t be bothered to read or reference what the Church has taught about immigration.

    I suppose JP II was bogged down with “moral hysteria” on World Migration Day in 1996 as well. The immigrants we are speaking of here are not simply people living a lower-middle class life who want to come to America for an upper-middle class one.

    It is therefore completely disingenuous to merely quote what the Catechism says about immigration in general while completely ignoring what other Church authorities have said about illegal immigration from poor countries to rich ones in particular. Yes, the Popes have specifically addressed this situation and they have made it clear.

  • While I am no expert on immigration law, I am acquainted with people who have dealt with it and who can vouch for the red tape and expense involved. I can understand how those who took the time to jump through those hoops might resent people being able to “get away with” ignoring those laws.

    Hispanics who immigrate legally have even more cause to be upset, since the large number of illegal immigrants creates a presumption among Anglos that anyone who speaks Spanish or looks Mexican is probably illegal, leading to unjust discrimination and prejudice against those who do follow the law.

    I would rather see immigration laws made more “liberal” and enforced consistently than to continue to have a strict law that is NOT enforced consistently. Conservatives make a big deal out of respect for the law (and rightly so), but you do not foster respect for the law by making strict laws and then not enforcing them.

    Finally, one conservative argument I have lost patience with is the “my ancestors came here legally, why can’t they?” argument. That argument overlooks the fact that it was a lot easier (bureaucratically, NOT financially or socially) to immigrate legally in the 19th and early 20th century — you just showed up at Ellis Island or a similar facility, passed a few rudimentary health exams, and you were in. You did not have to jump through nearly as many hoops as immigrants do today. Record-keeping in the 19th century was also more spotty so chances are more of our ancestors were actually “undocumented” than we might care to admit.

  • Phillip and G-Veg,

    “Here’s the problem. G-Veg and I are those “nuts and bolts” kind of guys. The theoretical must be made practical in society. Doesn’t make us acting contrary to the Church. That’s what laymen are called to do.”

    I understand this but is there any practical policy that can possibly make millions of people go away? If not, does that not mean that all practical solutions must begin from the premise that these people are here to stay and will continue coming in greater numbers? Accepting this reality, must we not then say – these are our brothers, who live among us, what are our duties towards them?

    It would just be a negative utopia, a dystopia, in the opposite direction to try and force a solution to this crisis by way of mass deportation or completely blacklisting illegal immigrants from work. The solution is to make them citizens, unionize or at least inspect their places of work so that they are making the same wages as everyone else, have them pay taxes like everyone else, and allow them to live here as long as they stay out of trouble. We must make their de facto citizenship – they live here, work here, have children who are legal citizens here – de jure citizenship, for the good of all.

  • In Louisiana besides theese people not having “21 century” skills they came in handy after Katrina

    Just curious since we are giving no mercy to the illegals and their family what sanction should we give to my many friends that got their house repaired by them or in fact were working on the levees

    I mean fair is fair. We ahve no mercy to them. Shall we give my bud that had is house repaired by an illegal a Felony

    Fair is Fair.

  • Joe,

    Some can go and some stay. It doesn’t have to be an either or proposition.

  • jh,

    Since your question is flippant I’ll say sure.

  • Matt

    with all due respect though there be no person on here that was advocating mass deportation(and it should be noted this blog was not in operation during the heat the immigration debates) the deport them all or starve them across the border has been adovated by FAIR, CIS, NumbersUSA, etc that has a agenda more radical than AL Gores.

    The question is will Catholics come in and advocate a polcicy that is sane and meets our obligations as Catholics

    I am not so sure. I see a ton of “pro life Catholics” that never gave Mccain the kudos he deserved on that. I understand why. We don’t want to offend our more conservative friends. That includes some psoters on here. BUt the fact remains that McCain was much more closer to a Catholic understnding of immigration policy whether it was left or right. It was the fact he was not an extremist on either side that got us upset.

  • Alright, now we’re getting somewhere. But who can stay, and who can go?

    I say, violent criminals, drug dealers – these can and should go.

    People whose only crime is violating immigration law – these must make restitution, but should be allowed to stay.

    With respect to Darwin Catholic’s point about this being an incentive to migrate, here is my reply: the trek north is quite dangerous, never undertaken lightly. The incentive to continue living and supporting one’s family usually comes first, it is the strongest incentive, and only a policy which called for gunning down anyone caught trying to cross the boarder would really make significant numbers not want to even try and come.

    I knew a man who hitch-hiked from his family’s failing farm all the way in Colombia to get the US. They already risk their lives to get here, so there is little we can do to make coming to the US more unattractive than staying put.

  • Phillip

    My question is not Fippant. It meats reality. There shall be no mercy to those that broke the law that crossed the border to feed their family. Why should their be no mercy toward those that hired illegals to rebulid their house?

    I get into arguments with Daivd Vitter my Senator with this all the time

    I mean fair is fair? Just is Just?

    In other words you cannot make the sanctiion of law fall on one group because one other group has the power to make sure they are not sanctioned.

    We have invited for over 20 years people here to fuel our economy and to fuel our enterprise and they did weird things. Like take down roots and had Children!!!

    Just saying if we are going to go illegal is iilegal what is the price Americans shall pay

    Or perhaps should we come to a compromise.

  • I would rather see immigration laws made more “liberal” and enforced consistently than to continue to have a strict law that is NOT enforced consistently. Conservatives make a big deal out of respect for the law (and rightly so), but you do not foster respect for the law by making strict laws and then not enforcing them.

    I don’t know what you mean by “liberal” immigration laws… if by that you mean strict laws but with liberal numbers permitted to immigrate then fair enough, but I don’t see how having simply “liberal” laws suggests that any good would come of it. I do agree that what laws on the books ought to be enforced, and that there are constituencies in the conservative realm who oppose such (WSJ crowd).

    must begin from the premise that these people are here to stay

    To a great extent this is true.

    and will continue coming in greater numbers?

    Not illegally. No, border enforcement is not that complicated.

    Accepting this reality, must we not then say – these are our brothers, who live among us, what are our duties towards them?

    is it any less than our duties to our brothers suffering in Africa, and Asia? OR is it only the brothers here that we should help?

    force a solution to this crisis by way of mass deportation

    Who said anything about this?

    or completely blacklisting illegal immigrants from work.

    Well it is illegal, so yes.

    The solution is to make them citizens, unionize or at least inspect their places of work so that they are making the same wages as everyone else, have them pay taxes like everyone else, and allow them to live here as long as they stay out of trouble. We must make their de facto citizenship – they live here, work here, have children who are legal citizens here – de jure citizenship, for the good of all.

    Why not let people who apply legally to come here be the first to benefit? Why give preference to those who jumped the queue? Why do you keep insisting on citizenship when a legal worker and/or permanent residency provides all that they would need? Unless it’s to expand a certain constituency?

    jh,

    In Louisiana besides theese people not having “21 century” skills they came in handy after Katrina

    Yes, they were greatly exploited after Katrina, instead of paying the poor black residents of New Orleans a decent wage, slave wages to the illegals.

    Just curious since we are giving no mercy to the illegals and their family what sanction should we give to my many friends that got their house repaired by them

    Yes, he should be punished for exploiting illegal workers, they should have stepped up and paid the true cost of wages to legal workers.

    or in fact were working on the levees

    I mean fair is fair. We ahve no mercy to them. Shall we give my bud that had is house repaired by an illegal a Felony

    Fair is Fair.

    Good heavens, nobody here is calling for the execution of illegal workers! Except perhaps Obama providing a death sentence for all the babies of illegals who land in an abortion clinic.

  • When I say “liberal” I do not mean that term in a political sense, but simply in the sense of being easier to abide by than what we have now.

  • jh,

    That’s what we’re trying to figure out. And we’re all starting from principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

    Good night all.

  • Matt let give you a education

    I am sorry but the fact that blacks were not put to work in New Orleans had little to do with “slave wages” of illegals that were actually pretty good. THe fact that illegals are being robbed at gunpoint by native black gangs in New ORelans of their wages is a huge problem. But we can’t talk about that because well it is impolite

    I said no where that someone calling for the execution of illegals. I am talking about justice What sanction shall everyday Americans get for hiring illegals? I am not talking corporations but your neighbors. A felony? A deprivation of voting rights? I mean if we are talking about Justice it is a two way street

    Again this siisue makes us all get out our comfort zones and I know it is not easy. But it must happen

  • jh,
    with all due respect though there be no person on here that was advocating mass deportation(and it should be noted this blog was not in operation during the heat the immigration debates) the deport them all or starve them across the border has been adovated by FAIR, CIS, NumbersUSA, etc that has a agenda more radical than AL Gores.

    Then you should refrain from opposing that position here and oppose it where it is offered.

    The question is will Catholics come in and advocate a polcicy that is sane and meets our obligations as Catholics

    I am not so sure. I see a ton of “pro life Catholics” that never gave Mccain the kudos he deserved on that. I understand why. We don’t want to offend our more conservative friends. That includes some psoters on here. BUt the fact remains that McCain was much more closer to a Catholic understnding of immigration policy whether it was left or right. It was the fact he was not an extremist on either side that got us upset.

    It is not true the only Catholic position would match McCain’s (at least not necessarily the one he originally held, as it was somewhat modified in response to the amnesty fiasco).

    and only a policy which called for gunning down anyone caught trying to cross the boarder would really make significant numbers not want to even try and come.

    I knew a man who hitch-hiked from his family’s failing farm all the way in Colombia to get the US. They already risk their lives to get here, so there is little we can do to make coming to the US more unattractive than staying put.

    Fences make good neighbors, and while the currently proposed fence is far from perfect it would significantly aid with border enforcement… that is rounding up illegals and returning them before they can set down roots in the interior.

  • Matt

    The postion that MCain offered was much more Catholic than the “Tancredo” approach. It at least offered conversation and discussion

    As to the Fence sorry I am not going for a multi billion dollar boondagle. As McCain and others ponted out over half the problem is people overstaying their visas

    It is true that a “catholic” position” did not have to match McCain’s at a specific moment in a legislative process but a Catholic postion could never meet the Taccredo radical element.

    We cannot just deport all illgals and their families. I saw no compromise at all from the other side.

    That no compromise has hurt us in many ways

  • jh,
    I am sorry but the fact that blacks were not put to work in New Orleans had little to do with “slave wages” of illegals that were actually pretty good. THe fact that illegals are being robbed at gunpoint by native black gangs in New ORelans of their wages is a huge problem. But we can’t talk about that because well it is impolite

    So why is it that the blacks were not offered this work? And were these illegals provided ss/medicaid, unemployment insurance, medical insurance, etc. ? Hmmm… I wonder.

    I said no where that someone calling for the execution of illegals.

    No mercy? Sounds like a death sentence to me, or at least a long prison term, neither of which is waiting for an illegal worker, only a short prison term if any and return to his home country.

    The postion that MCain offered was much more Catholic than the “Tancredo” approach. It at least offered conversation and discussion

    Surely, it was, but what about Huckabee’s or Gingrich’s? You may be able to label Tancredo’s position unCatholic, but that doesn’t mean McCains is the only “Catholic” one.

    We cannot just deport all illgals and their families. I saw no compromise at all from the other side.

    That’s absurd, Tancredo got no traction in the primary because “the other side” did not support him or his policies, the fact that McCain was nominated suggests that the “other side” was willing to compromise, the others Huckabee and Romney did not have a “deport ‘em all” policy either.

  • Matt,

    “is it any less than our duties to our brothers suffering in Africa, and Asia? OR is it only the brothers here that we should help?”

    Not at all! But our first duty is to meet the needs presented before us. We also have a serious obligation all of our brothers suffering all over the world. I believe we can serve them by providing incentives, negative or positive, for certain regimes to embrace workers rights.

    “Why not let people who apply legally to come here be the first to benefit?”

    I have no problem with that. Let there be a proper order of events. Make citizenship an option in the future, make permanent residency an option in the meantime. That’s fine.

    Like I said, what I am concerned with are the parameters and the overall attitude. That’s what concerned me about Mr. Zmirak’s argument, and why I think we would do better to listen to John Paul II. I believe that if we begin with compassion, we can still be practical but we will also be merciful and charitable as Christians should.

    Some people need to stop living entirely in the “practical world” of Machiavellian politics and Benthamite utilitarianism. Policies are always guided by fundamental moral principles and dispositions, by what is in our hearts as well as our heads. It would be a delusion to claim otherwise. If we love our brothers we will find ways to solve our problems and theirs at the same time.

    My concern, though, is also what some people consider a problem. A decline in American middle class living standards is not as grave a problem as the starvation and destitution of Mexican families, though I stress again that I think globalization, union busting, and an out of control financial sector hurt us several times more than immigration.

    The more serious problem carries more weight, the less serious problem can still be addressed but it cannot trump the greater problem.

  • Matt

    I will be totally honest . Most native New Orleans people hired ilegals because not only were they they were skilled( again one does not have to have a High School diploma to be valued) but they wanted to work. I had a friend that was amazed that an illegal he hired not only did the jobn well but brought his som to learn a trade. He was so shocked to see people want to work.

    I understand Tancredo did not get traction but what is your policy. I am tad sensative to this topic because as I always tried to offered compromise after compromise on this subject I was attacked as some traitor, or Quisling, or some open borders fanatic whatever. I am tad miffed that my conservative friends did not at least come into to mediate. It was too easy to name call. So yes I have some wounds over this debate which is one reason I am so vocal.

    I understand why this poster has some problems with Mr John Zmirak posts. I have followed for them sometimes. He makes all of us that want to find a solution that might differ with his as some disloyal faction.

    So what is the solution you offer?

  • Matt,

    So why is it that the blacks were not offered this work? And were these illegals provided ss/medicaid, unemployment insurance, medical insurance, etc. ? Hmmm… I wonder.

    At the risk of sounding racist: For whatever cultural reasons it seems to be the case in a lot of our border and southern states that Hispanics (whether legal or illegal — a lot of my relatives on the Mexican side of the family are in construction, and we’ve been in the US for five generations) simply seem to be more willing to sign up for construction work. If there are able bodied, unemployed, black residents of New Orleans who are missing out on the work, it may simply be that they don’t want the work.

    It’s not necessarily slave wages rebuilding NO, though. Heck, I know a couple of totally Anglo guys who’ve headed over there to work for 6-12 months simply because the construction money is so good. There’s been enough demand for work that people have been heading down there from other parts of the country where unemployment is higher.

  • Another important moral distinction to be kept in mind is the difference between moral laws that prevent inherently evil acts like murder, rape, theft, etc. and laws that help maintain social order, like traffic and zoning laws. Immigration law falls into the latter category.

    Social order laws are important and we have a moral obligation to obey them most of the time. They exist for good reason — for example, speed limits and other traffic laws help prevent life-threatening accidents. However, exceptions can and should be made when a higher good is at stake or a greater evil must be avoided. A fire truck rushing to a burning home is not obligated to obey the speed limit or to stop for red lights.

    Also, while moral laws should never be changed (murder, theft, rape, etc. are always wrong), social order laws can be changed or even abolished when they no longer serve their intended purpose, or when their enforcement becomes more of a burden than a benefit to society.

    For these reasons, Catholics are not obligated to a particular point of view regarding immigration in the same way they are with regard to laws concerning moral evils such as abortion. Unfortunately, some conservatives (NOT anyone on this blog) seem to place both issues (abortion and illegal immigration) on the same plane as “litmus tests” of “true” conservatism — which I believe is to their detriment.

    As long as the basic principle of treating everyone (illegal immigrants, legal immigrants and U.S. citizens) as fairly as possible is followed, there is plenty of room for disagreement about what kind of immigration policy the U.S. should adopt.

  • Elaine,

    I think JP II said it perfectly:

    “Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble. For Christians, the migrant is not merely an individual to be respected in accordance with the norms established by law, but a person whose presence challenges them and whose needs become an obligation for their responsibility. “What have you done to your brother?” (cf. Gn 4:9). The answer should not be limited to what is imposed by law, but should be made in the manner of solidarity.”

    I am a Catholic today largely because of this man.

  • No Joe, I’m not accusing Pope John Paul of moral hysteria. Just you. His statement was balanced and nuanced and open to discussion on how to implement it. It was theologically interesting and demands our further thought–like any other statement of a pope speaking as a private theologian. The reason I cited the Catechism instead is because it is more authoritative than the allocutions of Pope John Paul, of Pope Julius II, or any other pontiff. Hence it is the statement which we are BOUND by as Catholics. We judge the authority of papal statements both by the context and the content. Pope John Paul’s private statements are LESS authoritative than the Catechism he approved–as he would certainly have insisted. He was no egomaniac, and had no illusions that every word proceeding from his mouth constituted magisterial teaching.

    However, granted that distinction, I have no problem reconciling Pope John Paul’s statement with my position. YES, we should treat immigrants with “solidarity,” granting their equal human dignity, worth, responsibility and value to our own. In fact, I hold immigrants to the same standard I hold myself; I don’t violate just laws simply because they suit my social and financial aspirations. No one is arguing that Mexicans are starving en masse, or subject to genocide–the only circumstances that (following St. Thomas’ argument that a man may steal a loaf of bread if he is starving) would justify trying to steal citizenship in a foreign country. I do not demean poor people by pretending that they are just too weak, pathetic, wretched and beneath human responsibility to be held accountable by the law. The economic difference between a Mexican immigrant and me is DWARFED by the difference between me and one of the people I used to work for, as a doorman, on Park Avenue. If I moved into one of their apartments and insisted on taking up residence there, and they responded to me with “Aw, you poor widdle blue collar mallrat. Let me find you some menial labor to do….” I would be far more insulted than if they called the cops.

    Nor have I anywhere called for mass deportation, as you know very well since you read my previous articles (linked here) and commented on them. You can’t plead invincible ignorance, so perhaps you’re simply being “disingenuous.”

    I continue to await some rational response to the social justice case made in my articles (see links) that mass immigration harms the American poor–particularly African Americans, legal Hispanic immigrants, and blue collar whites. I will not hold my breath.

  • John,

    I find it sad that you trivialize the realities of Mexican immigrants by comparing their concerns with those of middle class Americans, or that you equate in this case the charitable offer of a family-saving job with a demeaning handout.

    I have always been open to discussion on how to implement charitable policies.It is your hysteria and blindness that has lead you to take my concerns with your argument and transform them into “PC dogmas” or some other nonsense.

    I don’t see a charitable or merciful spirit in anything you write. I see a perplexed longing for a kind of Church that could only exist in one kind of America, and it isn’t the kind of America we live in now.

    The Catechism does not address the specific phenomena of illegal immigration from poor countries to rich countries. It only addresses immigration in general. From the Old Testament down unto Catholic Social Teaching, the poor HAVE been held to different standards. The Book of Wisdom states that God has a special mercy for the lowly, and a terrible judgment for the mighty. Christ says that what we do the least of our brothers, we do unto Him. Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum says that the poor, and not the rich or anyone else, have a special claim to assistance from the State. Pope John Paul II was not speaking in private, but to a great public audience:

    “Today the illegal migrant comes before us like that “stranger” in whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself.”

    Your personal standards aside, this entire country is mighty compared not only to Mexico but the rest of the world.

    The issue of immigration – this specific kind of immigration – cannot at all be separated from what the Church has taught, in the Catechism and in authoritative encyclicals, about the poor and about the economic gap between rich and poor countries.

    On a final note, why is it that you have the right to sidestep statements such as those I quoted – to act as if they don’t really matter – but anyone who questions you is being “irrational” and “hysterical”? You lumped my arguments in with radical abortionists and other leftist fanatics in your article, or at least left it open for others to conclude that this was your intent, and yet you aren’t going to “hold your breath” for me?

  • Furthermore, not even the Compendium addresses illegal immigration. The only statements we have are those “private theological” statements of the Popes. It does say, however, in paragraph 158, that

    “The Church’s social doctrine, in consideration of the privilege accorded by the Gospel to the poor, repeats over and over that “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others””

    Over and over! I don’t think this translates into the sort of extreme measures you think I advocate, but I do think it indicates what our general attitude is to be. If you don’t like my arguments, blame my teachers.

  • Joe,

    It is your hysteria and blindness…

    I realize that I’m seeing things in the middle of an argument that’s got some history to it, but I’d tend to think that debate will go more smoothly without quite “going there”.

    I find it sad that you trivialize the realities of Mexican immigrants by comparing their concerns with those of middle class Americans, or that you equate in this case the charitable offer of a family-saving job with a demeaning handout.

    It’s not a wholly apt comparison, but do keep this in mind: To the extent that illegal immigration from Mexico (where the average wage is around $4/hr) tends to suck all the oxygen out of any political attempt to expand immigration quotas across the board, illegal immigrants from Mexico are crowding out the chance of people form much poorer countries (some countries in Asia and Africa have average wages down around 0.50/hr) to get to immigrate.

    Potential immigrants from Mexico have a geographical advantage over those from Pakistan or Indonesia or Kenya. On the complete world stage, even a Mexican day laborer who makes around $5000/yr is not actually doing as badly as the “bottom billion”. And if people abide by immigration laws (and we reform the ones that we have) that can be one of the ways of attempting spread the opportunity around more fairly.

  • Darwin,

    You’re right of course, and I suppose I would be childish if I said that John called me “hysterical” first.

    It is one of my many faults to engage in counter-productive tit-for-tat. I can only beg the pardon of my friends and brothers for that.

  • Elaine,

    Yes, social laws exist for a reason – to order society. A fire truck rushing to a fire is a known exception to the law and not subject to it. If fact the law points out that other drivers must yield to an emergency vehicle. If a fire truck was rushing to the supermarket it would not be for the common good. If people didn’t yield to the fire truck it would also complicate the common good.
    But that’s the point. There are laws that are ordered to the common good. How many immigrants can come in? That’s a decision for the state to make for the common good. And if its a just limit, it should be obeyed.

  • Yes, Phillip, all that is true. The hard part is deciding what is a “just limit” to the number of immigrants and under what conditions they will be admitted. Should the limit be lower or higher than it is now? Should more or fewer exceptions be made? Under what conditions should illegal/undocumented immigrants be permitted to stay in the U.S.? Should they be penalized for breaking the law, and if so, how? How should employers that knowingly hire illegals be penalized? These are all questions which “good” Catholics, with the common good of ALL people in mind (citizens, legal immigrants and illegals) can come up with widely divergent answers for.

  • Yes. My point in asking my original question 60 comments ago.

  • Philip, Elaine: Thanks for your comments. I do try to answer these questions specifically in these two pieces, which might be of interest. They’re mentioned FAR above, but pardon me for plugging them again:

    First the principles:
    http://tinyurl.com/6hjlpm

    Then the policies:
    http://tinyurl.com/dj8ycg

    I’d be very interested in your comments on the specifics. God bless!

  • I quickly read them yesterday. Will need more time to digest them and comment. Do you have an email I can comment to? If you don’t wish that public I can give some comments here.
    I have been giving this some thought lately since I am in a course on Catholic Social Teaching and many controversial topics have come up. Unfortunately the answers are usually approached from one side.
    BTW, I see you are at Thomas Moore in N.H. Lived in Salem in the now distant past. Miss New England still. Except in January and February.

  • Dear Philip,
    Please write me at Zmirak@hotmail.com. But feel free to comment here as well. I want to continue and deepen the debate. Thanks,
    John

  • John,

    I did like most of your thoughts though at times the tone was a bit strong for me.

    I did like you pointing out that the Church, and perhaps more appropriately some Churchmen, have made prudential judgments that have been painfully wrong in the light of history. I think some current pronouncements on immigration will also be seen in such a light.

    I also agree that one has a duty first to one’s own countrymen and not to members of another country. This does not deny that we have obligations to them, just that we first have obligations to fulfill to members of our society before those of others. An analogous case would be taking care of our own immediate family before we tend to other families in need. I think this can be supported from St. Thomas himself on his comments on patriotism in the Summa though I cannot find the citation at this time.

    I think most important of all, is to begin to consider citizenship as not merely a right conferred on others, but also a significant duty that is also imposed on the immigrant. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    “By civil allegiance is meant the duty of loyalty and obedience which a person owes to the State of which he is a citizen. The word allegiance is a derivative of liege, free, and historically it signifies the service which a free man owed to his liege lord. In the matter in hand its meaning is wider, it is used to signify the duty which a citizen owes to the state of which he is a subject.

    That duty, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, rests on nature itself and the sanctions of religion. As nature and religion prescribe to children dutiful conduct towards the parents who brought them into the world, so nature and religion impose on citizens certain obligations towards their country and its rulers. These obligations may be reduced to those of patriotism and obedience. Patriotism requires that the citizen should have a reasonable esteem and love for his country. He should take an interest in his country’s history, he should know how to value her institutions, and he should be prepared to sacrifice himself for her welfare. In his country’s need it is not only a noble thing, but it is a sacred duty to lay down one’s life for the safety of the commonwealth. Love for his country will lead the citizen to show honour and respect to its rulers. They represent the State, and are entrusted by God with power to rule it for the common good. The citizen’s chief duty is to obey the just laws of his country.”

  • This was the gist of some of the comments I was making. Other factors need to be considered in becoming a citizen. Some are captured in the link above to First Things. An abstract here:

    “Contemporary liberalism’s difficulty in justifying restrictions on immigration should give us pause. Its conclusions vary widely from the ordinary assumption of most people (and, traditionally, of international law) that the state is entitled to regulate immigration. Not, of course, that states may do anything they like in this regard. Most people acknowledge obligations toward refugees and asylum seekers, or even a broader obligation to admit at least some of the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But these obligations to outsiders are not commonly thought to cancel out our collective right to protect the national culture or defend the economic interests of existing citizens.

    Nor should we regard restrictions on immigration as merely self-interested attempts to escape our moral obligations. To be concerned about working-class Americans who might be displaced by cheaper immigrant labor and to sympathize with those who find their neighborhoods transformed by an influx of immigrants is not rank self-interest. We have obligations to children whose education suffers as teachers struggle with classrooms of students whose command of English varies widely, and to doctors and nurses whose ability to serve their communities is strained by the need to treat poor and uninsured migrants requiring emergency care. We have obligations, as well, to bequeath to future generations both a political order that has nurtured liberty across centuries and the cultural heritage that has sustained it (and—not coincidentally—enabled us to absorb large numbers of immigrants over time).

    To recognize these obligations is neither nativist nor selfish. Not that they cancel out our other obligations to more-distant outsiders. Rather, all these various obligations exist side by side. But, if we are to navigate the immigration controversy appropriately, we ought to recognize the full range of our responsibilities. Describing the issue in these terms, moreover, reveals it as a variation on a familiar moral difficulty: the tension between universal and particular duties. We are called to recognize the image of God in every human being, and we owe something to each person simply by virtue of his or her humanity. But we also stand in particular relationships to certain persons for whom we bear special responsibilities: sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, fellow citizens. These special relationships channel our potentially endless obligations and make them practicable.”

    Full link here:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=5490&var_recherche=immigration

    Among the duties of immigrants thus becomes the duty to assimilate to the new culture. I believe this cultural obligation to assimilate is violated in some way among illegal and legal immigrants. See here:

    http://catarina.udlap.mx/u_dl_a/tales/documentos/mes/gonzalez_s_ae/capitulo5.pdf

    These are beginning thoughts.

  • Thanks, Philip, for posting that sober and charitable analysis. As laymen and citizens, attention to the virtue of prudence is our particular calling; those of us who are students of history, politics, and economics have a Christian duty to apply this knowledge to the proper application of Catholic teaching in every field. Hence, an economist who saw that a papal injunction might be misapplied in counterproductive ways would have a duty as a Catholic to point this out–while maintaining a careful respect for the pope’s teaching authority, and the doctrinal truth the Holy Father was trying to implement. (In this way, Thomas Woods in his book on the Church and the Market discusses Pope Paul VI’s call in Populorum Progressio for massive foreign aid–noting that over decades, government-to-government foreign aid to Africa has more often than not proved counterproductive and INCREASED poverty.) Likewise, a Catholic historian might question the decision of a particular pope to call a particular Crusade–without detracting from the truth of Just War teaching. So we as Catholic laymen who study the particulars of a given social and political situation have a solemn duty to take into account the “nuts and bolts” of the situation, and apply Church teaching as best we can–balancing rights and duties, universal calls to charity with particular duties of pietas, common human dignity with patriotism. Thanks to you, Non-Spartacus, Elaine and others for furthering that discussion.

  • I’m not going to re-open old disputes and restate old problems, since they’re never going to be acknowledged anyway.

    There is a fine line between discerning when a papal teaching might be “misapplied” on the one hand, and putting ideology before Church and God on the other. I’m not going to say who has crossed the line and when in this debate. But it does happen.

    What is happening now with immigration is nothing but cyclical payback, in a way – in Europe and America – for its earlier imperialistic domination of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Having retarded development in many places there for their own benefit deep into the 20th century, many in those countries now find they have no choice but to follow, at long last, the plunder train back to the mother country.

    The Popes condemned every form of imperialism in the 20th century, including those, as John XXIII pointed out, that were craftily concealed as financial or economic imperialism of the former colonies. Secular governments didn’t listen then. Now they reap what they have sown.

    I believe the most powerful nation in the world has a greater obligation – a much greater obligation – to do what it can to meet the human needs presented before it than the poor migrant does to place the welfare of that powerful nation at the top of his list of priorities, above that of his own family.

    “Underemployment” is at 25%, 40% of Mexicans live in poverty (that’s Mexican, not American poverty), the average Mexican wage is 4 dollars an hour – in many cases, entirely insufficient to support a family.

    I am sometimes called “sentimental”, yet those who are teary-eyed for “country” often seem to be removed from the reality that we live in an increasingly globalized economy, where it would be absurd to try and absolutely restrict the flow of labor when capital, cash, information, advertising and everything else economic can move across the planet in an instant through wires. If labor could be harnessed and shot through a wire, there would be no immigrants, and no need for people too. It may one day come, but we aren’t there yet.

    That said, I am:

    a) Not opposed to boarder control – provided it is not excessively violent, and it is accompanied by policies to address the economic situation in Mexico.
    b) Not opposed to reasonable penalties on those who break immigration law.
    c) Not opposed to every effort by states and local communities to immerse immigrant children in English language programs.

    If there is agreement here, then there is no need to argue further. What I am opposed to are:

    a) militarized boarders
    b) mass deportations
    c) employment lockouts for undocumented workers
    d) denial of medical or educational services to undocumented workers

    Shall we perhaps continue along those lines?

  • Joe,

    your statement is self-contradictory:

    That said, I am:


    for:
    a) Not opposed to boarder control – provided it is not excessively violent, and it is accompanied by policies to address the economic situation in Mexico.

    against:
    a) militarized boarders

    So, you want border control, you just don’t want it to include a wall and uniformed armed people guarding the wall. Before you build a straw man, nobody has suggested shooting people for entering the US illegally, they armed for their own protection against the criminal invaders.

    I have no idea what border control is without a and/or armed uniformed guards.

    b) Not opposed to reasonable penalties on those who break immigration law.

    c) employment lockouts for undocumented workers
    d) denial of medical or educational services to undocumented workers

    You’re fine with penalties, as long as those don’t include not allowing them to continue to offend by working illegally, or NOT paying for their education? What sort of penalties did you have in mind.


    c) Not opposed to every effort by states and local communities to immerse immigrant children in English language programs.

    What about efforts by states and local communities to immerse all immigrants in English language programs? Such as limiting non-essential services to English?

    If there is agreement here, then there is no need to argue further. What I am opposed to are:

    b) mass deportations

    How do you define mass deportations? 1, 10, 100? Certainly interior enforcement should be controlled by a juridical process so that each case is examined, but if the rule of law is to mean anything there needs to be enforcement efforts. Border enforcement must include automatic and expedited removal. Much greater penalties on those who employee ILLEGAL workers, and ceasing this ridiculous policy of not enforcing the existing laws on employment verification (SS lookup).

    How do you propose to resolve the Mexican economic situation? Regime change? That’s the principle problem with Mexico’s economy, a deep culture of corruption. Additional financial aid will not help in fact recent information is that foreign financial aid actually helps countries become self-sufficient, I assume that’s your goal. How do you propose the US avoid the label of imperialist if increased involvement in Mexico is what you’re asking for.

  • Matt,

    When I say militarized, I mean, the deployment of the US military.

    I’m not talking about the regular boarder cops.

    “What sort of penalties did you have in mind.”

    First of all, children born here are legal citizens, so that’s not what I am talking about – they have a right to public education. I mean educational services that would allow adults to learn English while they are here.

    As for the penalties, I think fines payable over a period of time, in increments, and possibly some community service.

    “How do you define mass deportations? 1, 10, 100?”

    How do you define mass murder? I’m talking about a systematic campaign of police efforts to round up as many undocumented workers as possible and throw them out of the country. Whether it nets 1 or 1,000,000 is besides the point. It is the terror it would impose on society, and most importantly, the break up of families and their possible destitution that matters to me.

  • Joe Hargrave,

    When I say militarized, I mean, the deployment of the US military.

    I’m not talking about the regular boarder cops.

    Ok, so if the guy wearing combat fatigues, a flak jacket and carrying an M-16 is a border patrolman, but not an infantry soldier, it’s different how? Is there some moral principle that differs in how the federal government organizes it’s personnel? What about the Coast Guard? The US Border Patrol doesn’t possess sufficient sea-borne capabilities to protect the coast, should we transfer some cutters to them, or is it OK for the USCG (part of the military) to handle this? What about the use of such things as predator drones, can they be flown by the air force, or must the border patrol

    I mean educational services that would allow adults to learn English while they are here.

    So, one of the penalities is taxpayer funded ESL?

    As for the penalties, I think fines payable over a period of time, in increments, and possibly some community service.

    Ok, so you’re fine with my suggestion of not allowing them to continue to break the law?

    “How do you define mass deportations? 1, 10, 100?”

    How do you define mass murder?

    So deporting 10 illegal immigrants is your definition of mass deportation?

    I’m talking about a systematic campaign of police efforts to round up as many undocumented workers as possible and throw them out of the country. Whether it nets 1 or 1,000,000 is besides the point. It is the terror it would impose on society

    Why is it that you prefer the term “undocumented”? They are in fact working and residing ILLEGALLY in the US, regardless of your policy on them, wouldn’t an accurate term be more appropriate? This is part of the reason that liberals earn the label “bleeding heart”, they try and change the viewpoint based on emotion, trying to remove negative imagery by introducing less judgemental terms. The classic example is “pro-choice”. The other popular tactic is to drop the distinction between illegal and legal immigration, painting all who oppose law-breaking as anti-immigrant.

    A large scale systemetic effort to hunt them down would not serve the common good, enforcement should include every incident of police contact aside from victims and witnesses.

    , and most importantly, the break up of families and their possible destitution that matters to me.the break up of families and their possible destitution that matters to me.

    This is a difficult question, and the reason why interior enforcement is always a judical process. However, it is important that having USC children or relatives should not, in and of itself mean a free ticket. This would encourage a very problemetic behaviour of creating “anchor babies”. The USC child is of course entitled to live here, but they should, like every child remain with their parents, so if they go home the child goes with them. To reiterate, this should be reviewed on a case by case basis. It is absolutely critical that we understand that every ILLEGAL immigrant who is allowed to remain, displaces a potential immigrant who may be far more destitute, but unwilling to break the law, or, very likely punished by geography to be unable to make it to the US. What is it about being born in a neighboring country makes one more entitled to immigrate to the US? I’d prefer to see a more balanced approach that includes more immigrants from Africa, Asia, and perhaps more Christians who are deeply persecuted in their homelands. Some communities have a much greater record of being assimilated, and those communities should have preference (subject to need, obviously Europe and Canada do not have needs).

    One thing I liked about last years ill-concieved amnesty program, was that it tried to balance the needs of those desiring to come here, with those who could more easily assimilate, as well as those who could contribute to the common good here.

    When it comes to helping the poor of the world, it seems questionable to me that the policy would be to bring as many poor people here as possible (though, at one time it may have been a good approach). There are perhaps 1 billion or more impoverished people in the world, what’s the largest possible number we could absorb without putting the country into deep turmoil which would NOT serve the common good here or globally.

  • Matt,

    Why are you so hostile? Why are you addressing me as if we are fighting?

    You seem to have this constant urge to fight, this will to battle. Maybe you should join the military or something. Maybe you are a veteran who doesn’t know the war isn’t here on The American Catholic. I don’t know, but I’m just sick of everything being a battle with you. I accept that you disagree with me, I’m ready to engage this reasonably. Please put away your sword.

    I reject the idea that we need a military response to what is essentially a humanitarian crisis. We are not at war with poor people trying to find jobs, and if we are then I don’t want anything to do with this society.

    “his is part of the reason that liberals earn the label “bleeding heart”, they try and change the viewpoint based on emotion, trying to remove negative imagery by introducing less judgemental terms.”

    This is ridiculous. Why is my concern for the immigrant any more or less “emotional” then all of this chest thumping for America? All of this patriotic posturing? Don’t try to pretend that you don’t get emotional. It’s just over a different thing.

    I call them undocumented workers because that is what they are. We don’t call law breakers born in this country “illegal citizens”, there’s no reason to call a person an “illegal alien”. Breaking the law doesn’t deprive you of human rights, especially when it is done for grave reasons – to feed one’s family.

    I want to refer you once again to the example of our Holy Fathers, particularly JP II, on the subject of illegal immigration and how we are to treat the immigrant regardless of his legal status. If you can’t follow that example, or at least tolerate it without blowing a gasket, why belong to this Church, with its preferential option for the poor, be they individuals or entire countries?

    “A large scale systemetic effort to hunt them down would not serve the common good”

    We agree!

    “It is absolutely critical that we understand that every ILLEGAL immigrant who is allowed to remain, displaces a potential immigrant who may be far more destitute, but unwilling to break the law”

    People who are destitute – truly destitute – don’t have the luxury of waiting for the process to work for them. Some people have families to consider. You can, if you like, admire someone who is willing to let his family starve before he breaks the law. But as a rational and humane society, we have to say that no law trumps the right to survival.

    “What is it about being born in a neighboring country makes one more entitled to immigrate to the US?”

    It has nothing to do with location. I extend the same considerations to all immigrants regardless of where they come from. It just happens that they are coming from the nearest country. That’s meaningless.

    Finally for the last time I am not suggesting that “to bring as many poor people here as possible” should ever be the actual policy. The REALITY is that people will continue coming here until we start killing them in mass numbers at the boarder, and so if we’re going to use REALITY as our starting point, and not a patriotic fantasy far more naive than any “bleeding heart” idea I’ve ever voiced, we need to begin with the assumption that these immigrants are here, and that only acceptable methods of boarder control that don’t devolve into mass murder are still not going to be able to prevent more immigrants from coming in the future.

    In a way, I say again, this is “payback”, just as Rome got it towards the end – you spend a century building an empire and extracting resources from the periphery to the core, and then, lo and behold, the periphery comes to you. People go where the wealth is, where the opportunity is. And you can deny it until you are blue in the face, but America and Western Europe spent a long time manipulating and subverting the economic progress of the third world. They still do it today, through the international financial and trade organizations.

    That’s the other reality that needs to be acknowledged. It’s what Pope Benedict means when he talks about removing the long term causes of immigration, since elsewhere he acknowledged and validated the third world complaints against Western economic domination. Immigration has to be looked at as part of the global economy and the geopolitical situation. Until the global imbalances between rich and poor countries are resolved, until the legacy of imperialism is finally washed away, immigration will continue and no humane methods can stop it.

    That means immigrants can either be treated as human beings, integrated into society, and asked to pay and work a little more as restitution for breaking the law, or that you all can continue to ignore the reality and treat these people like nothing more than a “problem”, a problem that you can’t solve, and that only puts your own soul at risk per Gospel of Matt. 25.

  • Again Joe I think you create a false dichotomy. We can of course send people back, should and will. And arguments can be made according to CST as I have begun above. But I don’t think we will come to agreement here.

  • Joe,

    You seem to have this constant urge to fight, this will to battle. Maybe you should join the military or something. Maybe you are a veteran who doesn’t know the war isn’t here on The American Catholic. I don’t know, but I’m just sick of everything being a battle with you. I accept that you disagree with me, I’m ready to engage this reasonably. Please put away your sword.

    obviously this topic is deeply emotional for you, so I will leave it as you can not remain objective and avoid dropping down to ad hominem with you.

  • No Matt,

    I’m not the emotional one here.

    And maybe you need to re-take that logic course at the community college.

    My characterization of your attitude as combative and hostile is not “ad homoinem”. I’m not using it to dismiss your actual argument, but pointing it out as an entirely separate issue. If it isn’t related to the argument you are making, it isn’t a logical fallacy.

    Logic is the science of establishing the validity of arguments. I don’t claim that your argument has anything to do with your attitude. I just don’t like your attitude.

    In fact my actual criticism of your argument is that it doesn’t seem to begin from the reality that we have 12-20 million people who are here to stay and more on the way, regardless of what we do (within ethical bounds).

    But if you want to stop discussing it because you’ve had it, that’s fine. Just don’t hide your retreat under these accusations. Just say, “I’m done”. That’s what I’m saying right now.

  • No Jor,

    Joe says: I’m not the emotional one here.

    and he says: I’m just sick of everything being a battle with you.

    One can only assume that you are not physically ill, so it must be a metaphor for the emotional turmoil you are under.

    And maybe you need to re-take that logic course at the community college.

    ad hominem.

    My characterization of your attitude as combative and hostile is not “ad homoinem”.

    perhaps not but this is:

    Maybe you should join the military or something. Maybe you are a veteran who doesn’t know the war isn’t here on The American Catholic.

    Not only “ad homenim”, but a disgusting slander aimed at veterans who deserve our thanks and respect. You are mis-charaterizing them in a profoundly uncharitable way. I know you won’t apologize to me, but perhaps you ought to consider apologizing to any of the readers who served this nation for treating them as if they are unbalanced or confused. If anybody is confused about where the battle is it is Joe Hargrave.

    Did you get these ideas from the DHS report that came out recently? Does this perhaps explain your hostility towards conservative pro-lifers? Just curious.

    I’m not using it to dismiss your actual argument,

    really…. re-read them.

  • sorry missed this little uncharitable personal attack:

    Joe in an emotional rage says:
    If you can’t follow that example, or at least tolerate it without blowing a gasket, why belong to this Church, with its preferential option for the poor, be they individuals or entire countries?

  • Keep Fighting the good Fight Joe.

    Despite what you said in your recent post your position on immigration is not from the left or liberal .According to exits polls about half the Republican primary voters wanted some compromise.

    The Cato Inst and the Wall Street Journal wnated immigration reform. And people Like Rep Flake that is in one of the most conservative districts in the country and also on the border is an adovocate. He get relected by huge numbers.

    I would like to point out that even among hispanicesthat are more touched by this situation they are quite aware of the role of immigrant(and illegals) and their responsibilities in this matter.

    Hispanic voters have largely while wanting to have Comp reform are also for tough sanctions

    If anyone wants too look at some good data on this as well as get scared out of mind if you are a Republican if we don’t change the perceptipon go look at this election data see my links here(especially the PDF file)

    http://opinionatedcatholic.blogspot.com/2009/03/national-review-meets-immigration.html

    I reeally wished conservatives would realize there is also a pragamatic poltical picture here. If we lose the west then we are going to have a tough time getting other Catholic pro-life concersn throught

  • “Not only “ad homenim”, but a disgusting slander aimed at veterans who deserve our thanks and respect.”

    lol, and I’m the emotional one? Oh yes, we’re done here.

  • We’re not QUITE done…
    http://tinyurl.com/daf6po

  • John,

    This is another attempt to reduce your opponents arguments to an absurd strawman so you can easily knock it over. At this point it isn’t frustrating, its just pitiful.

    Projection is an interesting thing, isn’t it? No, the rational John Zmirak doesn’t get emotional or misty-eyed over culture, language, and other sentimental artifacts.

    Reactionary sentimentalism is more pathetic than liberal sentimentalism because at least the latter doesn’t try to hide what it is.

    I responded with “why are you addressing me as if we are fighting” because I see no need to continually fight over this. My original post to you on IC wasn’t hostile or sarcastic, it was a simple statement of differences.

    Yet your snarky response, your lumping me in with radical abortionists and even the rebellion of Lucifer reveals no emotional investment in the issue at all, right? That was a perfectly objective, logical, rational response to a disagreement. Oh how I wish I could emulate such heroic stoicism!

    “All the moving parts are ordinary words, wrenched out of context and used to suit your polemical purpose.”

    Yes, of course. That’s nothing like what you did, right, when you suggested that my argument implied that the Church should:

    “become simply a pro-life, gay-squeamish chaplaincy to the left wing of the Democratic party? Are intact, hard-working families to be treated as wretched pharisees, their interests forever disregarded in favor of endlessly prodigal, dubiously repentant sons of our dysfunctional culture?”

    That’s the conclusion you drew for yourself. Then you started talking about “Spiritual Franciscans” as if I had insisted that everyone take a vow of poverty, when all I did was call attention to a theme that has been repeated in Catholic social teaching for about a century now: that immigration must be viewed in the context of global imbalances, and that yes, us in the wealthy countries may have to sacrifice some of what we have to redress those imbalances.

    You don’t deny that Popes have said this, but you argue that we’re under no obligation to listen. Fine. Don’t listen. Don’t do it. But for you to heap mockery and scorn upon those of us who take the teachings and the lessons of the Church seriously is completely unjustified.

    I was never closed-off to a rational debate about policy. You never broached the subject with me. You jumped from one statement I made to imposing an insane, irrational worldview upon me that I don’t hold.

    I guess it would be too much to ask St. Zmirak to abide by the same standards he holds others to. Since you’ve never misread or misunderstood Christ, surely you didn’t miss the part about being held to the same standard by which you judge others. So you must be willfully ignoring it.

  • “Here’s how The Generator works: Presented with a complicated problem that requires balancing the interests of groups with competing claims, it will draw selectively on Biblical references and Church documents to churn out rhetoric that simultaneously”

    With all due respect John after viewing a great deal of your work it seems you are not big on balancing

    If you are give your legislative palan below

  • Here’s my legislative plan, which is based largely on the recommendations made by (black liberal Democratic) Congresswoman Barbara Jordan in the 1990s, and rejected by Clinton after campaign donors complained:

    1) Complete the border fence. Make it secure, especially in areas where immigrants lose their lives trying to cross.
    2) Change the criteria for immigration from “family reunification” to one that welcomes immigrants whose work experience or education matches jobs where there is a labor shortage in the U.S., as demonstrated by rapidly rising wages in that field–so that the influx does not (as our current influx does) depress wages for the native working class.
    3) Reduce the total number of legal immigrants accepted each year to a more manageable number that will allow assimilation. If we accept (as we should) refugees from wars or famines, then the total number of other migrants should be reduced accordingly, to stay within a ceiling of, say, 300,000-500,000 per year.
    4) Eliminate birthright citizenship, so that the children of illegals don’t acquire citizenship automatically.
    5) Eliminate affirmative action preferences that give job advantages to recent arrivals over native-born Americans (including war veterans).
    6) Eliminate the “visa lottery” that awards U.S. citizenship to 50,000 or so people each year in a global raffle.
    7) Make E-Verify (the federal system for identifying if workers are legal) mandatory, and levy high fines on corporations that exploit illegal labor.
    8) Implement U.S. Visit, the system that tracks the comings and goings of people on temporary visas–such as the 9/11 highjackers.
    9) After, and only after, steps 1 through 8 are taken, grant amnesty to current illegal residents who haven’t committed other crimes.

    Those of us concerned about the devastating impact of mass unskilled immigration on the native working class (of every race) aren’t going to accept 9) without 1 through 8. We were lied to in 1986, when the last amnesty was passed with a list of empty promises. The issue of amnesty is the only political leverage we have; it is our sole bargaining chip, since it’s so massively unpopular. If politicians expect us to give it up in return for cosmetic or insincere efforts at prevent the influx of ANOTHER 1 million illegals per year, they’ve got another thing coming.

    I don’t fantasize about mass deportations. I fantasize about a stable society with upward mobility–like the one that my own immigrant grandfather helped build.

  • I’m going to choose to take this sudden list of proposals, delivered free of all invective and sarcasm, as the offering of a truce.

    Here is where I will respectfully disagree. Whatever I don’t mention, I agree with.

    “Complete the border fence. Make it secure”

    How secure? Military secure, or increased boarder patrol budget secure?

    With respect to #2, there are some jobs that Americans simply will not do for a competitive wage, such as heavy agricultural work. Until third world workers are paid better, or until agriculture is owned cooperatively, and I think there are ways to realistically fight for that, Mexican workers in the US are as close as it gets.

    The urban service sector is different, retail, cleaning services, etc. I’ll agree with you there.

    As for the rest, that’s fine. I’d simply add the absolute necessity of our government supporting homegrown workers and human rights movements in Mexico, and making some attempt to address the terrible consequences of NAFTA on Mexican agriculture, which plays a big role in illegal immigration.

    Its 9 that’s key – amnesty. If you said that from the beginning, we wouldn’t have had a fight. I can accept the rest as long as families aren’t forcibly broken up and good people terrorized by a heavy-handed police action.

    How many fellow conservatives agree with that?

  • “I realize that the two of you are the presidents of each other’s fan clubs”

    I cannot believe my brother in Christ would insult so viciously.

  • You think that’s vicious? Really?

    Anyway, (I think) we’re trying to move past it all, so why try to inflame dying embers?

  • I agree that breaking up families is wrong. However, undocumented workers can where practical be returned unless there are strong, compelling reasons for them to remain. One would be if they have been here a long time. Perhaps greater than ten years.

  • I think John has also argued that breaking up families would be wrong.

  • Here’s the way to stop breaking up families: As a pre-condition to offering amnesty to illegals who committed no other crimes (including identity theft), repeal “birthright citizenship.” That means that an illegal alien (or a tourist from Korea on an airline layover) who gives birth in the U.S. doesn’t become the proud parent of an “anchor baby.” Then give amnesty to those CURRENTLY with citizen children, keep the borders secure, and this problem will never arise again. In future, when illegals have kids, they can all return to their own country together. No broken homes, no anchor babies–win/win.

  • John,

    great suggestion! I don’t see that as the only approach. There’s no reason that the anchor baby causes an issue with “breaking” up families as it’s completely possible for the parents to take their USC child back home until he is of age to return here, at which point he could certainly sponsor his parents. The child should of course remain with the parents regardless of where they go, because that is God’s law and it supersedes American law.

    You’re right though, on securing the border, without that occurring there is NO solution for these problems. Those who desire a border which is porous, really are for open borders and must accept the consequences of such a policy. Like other leftist ideas, the consequence is, as Churchill said: equal sharing of misery

  • What are the limits to our “compassion?” Of course nobody wants to separate a family. Current immigration laws allow for immigrants to “Show Cause,” as to why they may remain here. Unfortunately, because of fear, or ignorance failure to attend an immigration hearing results in the issuance of an “Order of Deportation.” Our country has many humane safeguards that provide for compassionate treatment. The second assertion that we have jobs that Americans will not performed is a hallow notion. I realize that Mr. Bush made this very same point. However, for most of the last 15 years, or since the 1990s, the nation has enjoyed full employment (4% to 5% unemployment rate). Full employment meant that the economy was growing faster than the rate of available labor, in other words, we had more jobs than people able, or willing to fill the jobs. The compassion test comes into play when our citizens are informed of the fact that current immigration quotas limit legal immigration to approximately 40,000 entry applications per country. Point of fact immigration across our borders is significantly larger than the set quotas imposed on countries not having a common frontier with our nation. Question: Where is the compassion for those Philippines, Ghana nationals (or name your country) wanting to migrate to this nation. If we need more labor should we increase the quotas? The immigration question is a most compelling argument that we must have, as a nation. Especially, when one considers that our compassion for a specific set of people might be our dispassionate/unfair treatment of others trying to immigrate our great nation. There are no right or wrong answers, only difficult choices.

  • “As a pre-condition to offering amnesty to illegals who committed no other crimes (including identity theft), repeal “birthright citizenship.””

    Including identity theft – does that mean, included among things we aren’t going to look at, or at crimes that would make a person ineligible for amnesty?

  • “You think that’s vicious? Really?

    Anyway, (I think) we’re trying to move past it all, so why try to inflame dying embers?”

    Yeah, I do. I also think that saying oh let’s move on is, as the Irish say, being cute as an outhouse rat.

    The feeling and sensitive people don’t get the motes and beams thingy.

    If you weren’t so full of yourself, you would have said good point, now let’s move on.

  • Surely you have heard that charity begins at home. Before God ‘ we owe more to our own tribe and
    blood than we would to a pagan (yes Pagan!) half way around the world.

  • Mr. Zmirak is being disengenuous making his appeal for reasonableness on the premise of ending birth right citizenship. The only question is whether he is intentionally being so. Ending birthright citizenship would require a constiutional ammendment. It is as likely to happen as deporting 12,000,000 people.

  • Perhaps. That’s why it would be better to allow those who have families to stay though delay the right to citizenship for the illegal immigrant himself to a period of 15 years. Also why I believe those who don’t have families should be deported if they have been here less than ten years. Thus we avoid deporting families, recognize Constitutional limits, punish those who we are obliged to allow to remain here and punish those who are here illegally.

  • The Supreme Court case that granted birthright citizenship could be reversed by act of Congress. The current Court would uphold such a law.

  • Tvoh,

    If you want to pursue a petty dispute with me, have at it.

    You didn’t make a good point.

    Now let’s move on.

  • “If you want to pursue a petty dispute with me, have at it.

    You didn’t make a good point.

    Now let’s move on.”

    My brother in Christ,

    this is masterfully cute. A man who has not missed a chance to be petty to his fellow papists all of a sudden says, “Can’t we all just get along?”

    The last word is yours. Something charitable like “You didn’t make a good point.”

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