Monday, March 06, 2006
Illegal Immigration - A Moral Delimma In The Catholic Church
So there it is. My church, ( and maybe it's just one SJ Priest) has come out and said that illegal entry into the United States is covered under the auspices of charity, justice, and scripture. Wrong!
The issue of illegal immigration is not one of anti-humanitarianism; this is a national security issue, and stopping illegal immigration is the only humane way to end the deaths of those that sneak under our wires, cross rivers, and hide in sealed compartments in trucks and cars. It would be logical for the members of my church to revisit this position as one of national security first and the humane and legal processing of those that want to live and work here legally second. Here’s why:
This is a political lobby rather than a representation of Christ’s teachings. Such a position is absent of historical perspective, it is substituted with a brief skeletal and superficial creed of historic confessions and lacks a concern with precise Christian doctrine which is highly averse to theology. This one-sided worldliness and reactionary position injects a lack of persuasion based on doctrine and tries to overturn, I think, by brute force guilt-pandering issues of national security disguised as moral teachings. And what I fear is that once viewed by those outside doctrinal thought, the American Catholic Church looks more like a political body rather than representatives of Christ’s teachings.
And in the wake of all the scandals that have befallen my faith in the last ten years, not making waves within its flock is the right course of action to take. I would be interested in hearing about how other faiths are treating the issue of illegal immigration.
You stated that the national security angle should be well considered, but there's just not much teaching in the Bible that tells us to worry about national security, or at least that's how we read the Bible in the anabaptist tradition.
Which is not to say that we are unconcerned about the possibility of some sort of attack. But rather, that we think our call is one of justice and compassion and that, perhaps the best way to security in an unsecure world, is by placing our fate in God's hand and doing justice and building God's kingdom. Or, put another way, we don't trust a big military and big walls to provide any real security, we think just the opposite is true.
Thanks for asking.
Make no mistake, I think we have an immigration problem, too. The difference is, I think the problem is at least partially our fault.
By signing NAFTA (as well as other trade actions the US has taken), Clinton has caused poverty to increase in Mexico - more farmers in Mexico are not able to make a living now and are turning to the US to find jobs so their families don't starve. A reasonable decision if you are concerned about your family, yes?
I'm for changes in our policies that encourage FAIR trade, not "Free Trade" as has been defined by corporations. Once we've done so, Mexico may have a chance to improve their economy, farmers there may find they can make it in their own country (which they'd MUCH rather do - no one wants to leave their home and family just to keep them fed), and not feel like they have no choice but to cross the border.
In other words, if our policies are contributing to the pain and misery of others, the Mennonites and Catholics believe it is time to change our policies.
We'd do well to heed the prophets' repeated warnings in the Bible:
"Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice; correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow"
Or, at least that's what these two faith traditions are saying.
In regards to NAFTA/CAFTA, even if there is evidence that poverty has increased in Mexico, spurious at best if figures exist, is the avalanche of illegals entering the US really our fault? Nope. The issue that is our fault is to not stopping the flow of illegal immigration and encourage those who wish to enter here legally enter legally. Why can't these people enter legally? And why can't the Mexican government stop them from doing so?
If the problem you describe is as abysmal as you have laid out, then the flow of illegals shold be in the tens of millions if there is no hope for Mexicans to earn a living.
So your Church and those in mine have glommed on to the idea that NAFTA and CAFTA is the issue? Hum? If that is the case, then where is the widespread misery and suffering in the US? There isn't any and those that were affected in the US can and ahve been absorbed into the economy in other vocations. And if this is the case, then why can't Mexico absord those whom you claim are victims of these agreements? Why is it the US's problem to attone for the failings of the Mexican Government? It is not the US's responsibility to take care of Mexicans. It is our government's responsibility to allow the flow of legal immigration and stop illegal immigration.
Trade legislation is not evil, governments are not evil. Defending the rights of those who seek to enter the US legally is about all we should have to support, faith or no faith. And at a minimum, encouraging people to risk their lives to sneak into the US is about the most un-Christian thing any faith can support. I just can't find anything in the Bible that says a government should encourage anyone to risk a life in the pursuit of a better living. Maybe I am wrong, but my Church's stance of encouraging people to kill themsleves to get here illegally is about the most uncharitable thing I have heard.
We see it as a rich and wealthy nation whose policies are contributing to (not outright causing, but contributing to) the misery of the poor and as we read the Old Testament and Jesus' teachings and the teachings of the New Testament, we see many warnings to the rich not to oppress the poor, not to get wealthy off the poor, to join in solidarity with the poor, etc, etc, and we therefore do feel this to be a justice issue for which we ought to work.
As to the questions about FTA's, I'd refer you to the National Catholic Reporter:
Or any number of other articles by folk from different faith traditions that adequately document the failings or at least the questionable nature of "free" trade as it's been sold to us.
I, for one, am quite glad for the Catholic Church's position in most of these matters. You are free to disagree, of course.
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