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Seeking Church Teaching on Immigration

  /   Monday May 22, 2006  

Last night, I went to a talk on a Catholic perspective on immigration. Well, the speaker’s view seemed to be that we should just open the border because, as Catholics, we are a “Church without borders.” Needless to say, he was dead set against sending the National Guard to the border.

In the discussion that followed, I raised an issue, as I often do. My point is that openness to immigration and securing our borders were not necessarily mutually exclusive ends. We need to keep our borders secure enough that someone with an idea other than that of coming to find work (e.g. terrorists) won’t find easy entry. On the other hand, we can make our immigration process better for those who truly want to come in and work. By having them here illegally and without proper documentation, we open them up for exploitation.

Well, a certain professor whom I won’t name took issue with my idea that Al Queada might enter though the Mexican border, calling it “absurd.” His reasoning, spoken with the attitude of an angry liberal, was that they hadn’t done so in the past. Well, first of all, it might not be Al Queada, but someone else. Second, these guys were smart enough to find a plane with enough gas to fly from NYC to LA and hijack it. If we open our borders completely, I find it difficult to believe that no one will figure out that they can use it to get into the country. Keep in mind that I’m speaking only in terms of possibilities here.

Anyway, I do believe that it is important to be well-grounded in what the Church actually teaches. So, I looked in a couple sources. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has an explanation in paragraph 2241. Basically, it speaks of the obligation of a more prosperous nation, to the extent of its ability, to welcome the foreigner in search of a better life than he can find in his own country. However, the Catechism also states that political authorities can, for the sake of the common good, make immigration subject to certain conditions and to require certain duties of them. Immigrants are required to respect and support their new nation.

The Compendium of the Social Doctine of the Church has more good information. The relevant articles are 297-298. Paragraph 297 mentions that immigrants ought not to be perceived as a threat to the level of well-being obtained in a more prosperous nation. They can fill an important labor need that might not be fulfilled by the citizens. However, paragraph 298 explains that foreign laborers should not be exploited or denied their human rights. Interestingly enough, it goes on to say that appropriate regulation of immigration is an “indispensible condition” for ensuring that “immigrants are integrated into society with the guarantees required by recognition of their human dignity.” It also speaks of fostering appropriate conditions in the immigrant’s country of origin.

Of course, there can be health debate about exactly what our nation is able to do. There will be debate over what conditions should be placed on immigration. It seems necessary that we consider immigrants from all places and not just those from just across the borders. However, we must remember the guiding principles in the Church’s teaching in any solution that we propose.

I don’t know enough about the issues to know just how many people we can allow to come here. It seems to me that we aren’t likely to be able to completely secure our borders to where no one can get in, and we do need to have the means available for people seeking a better life to come here. I’ll end here by citing a couple of blog posts that I’ve found interesting:

This one from Steve Kellmeyer.

This one from Jimmy Akin.

I’ll leave these uncommented as they speak quite well for themselves.

Category: Posts imported from Danger! Falling Brainwaves, Uncategorized



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