Bishop blasts Arizona immigration law [CWN]

In a column published on the web site of the Washington Post, Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of Los Angeles offered strong criticism of Arizona’s immigration law "While it was …


Bishop Zavala mentions “migration” but the crux of this issue, particularly the Arizona law is the differentiation of legal from illegal immigration. Surely the good bishop does not encourage the breaking of U.S. Immigration laws. So many of us have friends here who have run afoul of the law, skipping their paperwork, overstaying their visa, or perhaps even lying and presenting false information to the authorities. When we disregard this out of misguided charity, we contribute to the breakdown of the system that the Arizona law is designed to uphold. Illegals cheat their brothers who want to come here but are willing to work within the system. They are in essence “line jumpers.” Be charitable yes, but be just.

“Line-jumpers” - - This might apply to foreign medical doctors, nurses, teachers and architects who live upper middle class lives, but not to the poor and the destitute who have no recourse to lawful visas from the U.S. for minimum wage jobs within their lifetimes.

The category for dishwashers, landscapers, maids, busboys, farm workers, etc. is an “E3” visa, the same as skilled and professional workers.

"E3 or Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States and their qualified derivative family members. Nurses and teachers fall under this subcategory."

Current quotas for all countries for all E3 visas is only 10,500 per year. That a poor person has to choose between waiting 3 lifetimes for a lawful visa or “line-jumping” to provide for his family, one can see how the Church says that our immigration system is dysfunctional.

Thank you Stylites, for pointing out that current immigration laws are dysfunctional. The goal of the Church in such a case should be to work for a more just immigration ratio. But to attack the Arizona law which only seeks to enforce current law or to encourage disobedience to the rule of law is to show disrespect for the will of the people and to contribute to the chaos.

Christians have always been enjoined to respect and act according to established authority, as far back as Paul’s epistle 1st Timothy (“respect the emperor”) and in the United States we have an excellent system of republican democracy that allows us to correct injustices of the kind you mentioned without acting as if we could determine individually which laws we deem worthy of respect. To encourage flaunting of current order is deemed a violation of the 4th commandment according to the catechism. I trust the good bishop would not encourage us to such sinful action.

Again, 10,500 visas for all architects, teachers, nurses, doctors, all degreed and skilled workers, as well as for all cooks and dishwashers and gardeners and busboys, and farm workers, when there is want and hunger among the poor and unskilled, and a great need here for unskilled and motivated workers, means that the current laws established by Caesar discriminate against the poor, and we are required to adhere to the Gospel before and above any law of Caesar or any majoritarian mob rule.

There but by the grace of God go you: If you were poor in Mexico and had a family to feed, and the law severely and unjustly restricted access to immigration, how much would you consider the need to respect unjust laws?

Since when does the Church consider theft okay, as long as you are poor and hungry?

I get tired of Bishop’s who rail against a law, but offer little in terms of actually fixing the problem. So what do you propose Bishop? Tell me specifically what you would fix in our immigration code, and how you would offset the financial ramifications of doing so.

Until then, you are just another loud whiner.

Sorry to be the one to inform you, but crossing a border without permission is not “theft”. Now, if you want to make mention of government services, then call them what they are: services. If the government “steals” from you to allow someone else to “thieve” from them, then your beef is with the government, not with a bunch of dishwashers.

That you “get tired of Bishops” who preach the Gospel, no one says you have to follow two masters; you are free to follow talk radio hosts, or Bishops, or both if you can. Good luck!

By the way, stealing can be morally justified in some situations.

Let’s face it. Rounding up illegal immigrants is like trying to empty a lake with a dixie cup. It ain’t gonna cut it.
Reforming the immigration laws is step one.
Step two is actually coming down hard on companies that hire illegals. If there’s no jobs they won’t come. I have hard time going after the poor and desperate while merely slapping the wrists of the companies that hire them to save a buck, avoid paying for safety measures, or avoid paying certain taxes.

Exactly. If there’s no jobs they won’t come. But doing that might also scuttle the U.S. economy. Employers who now employ illegals might close down, or just move across the border.

That is fine. List the situations where stealing, breaking the law, and not “rendering unto Caeser” is morally justified. Then we can decide whether or not breaking US law in this case is acceptable. Just because something CAn be something else doesn;t mean it IS something else. Ergo the debate.

And you obviously can’t read. Quote me where I said typed “I get tired of Bishop’s who preach the Gospel”, since that is what you said I typed.

What was typed was “I get tired of Bishop’s who rail against a law, but offer little in terms of actually fixing the problem. So what do you propose Bishop? Tell me specifically what you would fix in our immigration code, and how you would offset the financial ramifications of doing so.”

I’ll try and help you.

It is the post above yours, and everyone (except you, apparently), can read it. So either you can’t type, can’t read, or are a liar.

Which is it?

As already stated for those who can read, my beef is with people who have little insight into all the details behind the scenes, offer NO suggestions for how to actually fix the problem, but simply whine and say “this isn’t fair.” Life isn’t fair. We have an obligation to improve life for one another, and to serve God, but short of mandating all US currency be divided amongst the world’s indigent, there are debates about the best way to do those things.

No one is saying we shouldn’t care for the poor, or needy, as we certainly should. For safety reasons, we also have a right to enforce border security, and enforce just laws. There is abalance we have to find.

I assume you leave your doors open 24/7, thus allowing the poor and needy to come and go as the please? That WOULD be the Christian thing to do. Forget the danger it presents to your family - theft, rape, murder. Who cares about that, right? The poor need us…

The Bishops are not there to run society for you and I. They are speaking out against an unjust law which robs people of their dignity. If you whine about them not coming up with a solution to enacting just immigration laws which relect the reality of our society then you do not understand the role the Church plays in guiding our society.

That’s an easy cop out then, isn’t it.

“I’m not going to tell you what you need to do better, but simply tell you what you are doing isn’t correct.” Perhaps the Bishops limited view into the actual law, procedures,details, and finances involved is keeping them from being properly informed? How is this any different than the avergae citizen complaining about something, but offering NO alternative? It is easy to criticize. but much more difficult to solve problems.

If they had said “Look, we (all people) recognize a few key things. First, we have an obligation to care for our neighbors in need, whomever they are. We can not turn our backs on people. However, we (again, all people) have an obligation to obey the law, and attempt to work towards a solution that doesn’t endanger lives (lack of security), treats ALL people fairly, and doesn’t impugn anyone one group over another.”

All we get is “the law is unjust.” Did the same Bishop rail against the lack of law enforcement from the federal government as well, PRIOR to Arizona having to defend themselves? If so, kudos, and argument over. If not, he is being derelict in his one-sided attacks.

Catholics ought not impugn the authority or intelligence or competence of Bishops, as doing so is a great disservice to themselves. Again, a person can try to serve two masters if they want to, and good luck with that! Try and read what the Bishops are actually saying to Catholics about immigration reform, and about the rights and responsibilities of citizens and immigrants.

I don’t think someone always needs to have the perfect answer in order to criticise something as unjust. After all, if Bill Jones’ idea of ending world hunger is to kill every hungry person I don’t think the Church needs to have a comprehensive plan to end world hunger before She can say that Bill Jones’ plan is immoral.

The unemployment rate in Mexico was 5.51 percent in June of 2010.

In the US in July it was 9.5%. Economic forecast is not robust. Massive government entitlement programs and record-breaking deficit spending threaten the stability of our country. But still, unbelieveably, very few seem too concerned that the big mighty US of A could ever take a major tumble. It is as if we believe that we are too big to fail.

But if we do, as it seems we must if we don’t turn things around in a really big austere way, I wonder if … for a change … the US bishops would start pleading to other countries for assistance on OUR behalf, and more importantly, whether we would get any. We have to remember: on the social justice front, the US has done more than anyone for the rest of the world. So the bishops should be very careful that the causes they embrace are not the straws that break this camel’s back, and jeopardize our continued ability to provide the world with economic and other forms of aid. We certainly CAN fail, and we surely won’t be the only ones hurting if we do.

Just my 2 cents.

Entitlement programs and deficit spending are different issues to Bishops’ statement on the Arizona law.

Yes, but the bishop is not operating in a vaccuum, he is in the US. Somehow it is so easy to see the US as perpetually invulnerable to economic collapse, and that we will always be there for everybody. The bishop wants to give safe harbor to undocumented immigrants, great. Why aren’t the bishops of all Central American countries doing the same? Because the economy is better here … at least for now. But the bishops do not control the economy, and since they do not, they had better be aware of the problems developing in their own yard, before welcoming in scores of people onto a sinking boat.

Another question: Why aren’t the bishops and polititians in Mexico trying to improve the lives of their people there? Why is it so much easier for everyone to want the US to be the solution?

Kind of my point. Perhaps there is an outcry from bishop’s of other countries against the issues their countries face, but they aren’t loud enough to be heard. Does it happen?

Also, did this same Bishop rail against the federal government’s lack of border enforcement, which endangers the security of the US? It would seem that is a moral issue to weigh in on as well. As a man, I am entrusted to protect my family in many ways (financial, moral, spiritual, etc.) Should I neglect this responsibility, I have no doubt the Bishops would call me to task, or any man/father.husband.

Those I know who support the enforcement of immigration law are not uncharitable people. They are Americans who live and work and worship peacefully and who live according to the rule of law. They have no problem showing their i.d. at the voting booth or to a patrolman when they’re stopped for speeding. Yet somehow in this political climate they’ve been vilified by an advocacy press for holding their common sense opinions. They are called racists and bullies and made somehow to think that they have have a low moral standing because they strive to follow the rule of law. I remember being taught in citizenship class, now so many years ago, that it was the special prerogative of the executive branch to enforce the law. Now we seem to have an administration that picks and chooses which laws it deems worthy of enforcement, and judges that through obtuse reasoning and convoluted judgments seem to think it’s their mission to nullify valid legislation passed by the people or their elected representatives. SB 1070 does not refute Church teaching as expressed in the catechism, and though Christians in particular are called to a higher charity and generosity, they have never had a problem practicing that calling within the American system. We have always been the most generous nation in supporting the poor and suffering of the world in a system of personal achievement and individual liberty that has allowed us to prosper and to share our gifts with others.

One cannot view the bishop’s comments without wondering if he bothered to read the law because if he read it he surely doesn’t understand it.

“We celebrate that police cannot insist that anyone they deem suspicious provide documents proving citizenship, as the legislation called for"

This statement is false and grossly distorts what the law actually says, which is that police shall make a reasonable effort to determine a person’s immigration status when there is reasonable suspicion that he might be here illegally … but only after lawful contact has been initiated by police for another reason.

  • “For instance, it remains a crime to provide refuge for immigrants without documentation*”

This is another absolute falsehood. It is a crime to knowingly hire illegals - or “immigrants without documentation” - as the bishop euphemistically phrases it, and it is a crime to smuggle them, but it is not a crime to provide them refuge. Unless by that the bishop means hiring or smuggling them.

The fact that the bishop is passionate in his position is no excuse for being dishonest in defending it.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit