USCCB: mixed reaction to House Republicans' immigration proposal [CC]


The chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration described the House Republican leadership’s new immigration reform proposal as an “important step” …



Good morning and God’s blessings to all! I read the USCCB commentary on the House’s immigration position and I need help with all of this. I was formerly very anti-illegal immigration, as a conservative Republican voter. But my Catholic faith has become so much more important than any political party or position. And I love Pope Francis and he has given me a clearer outlook on this matter. But I am struggling with some issues and I pray that someone here can help me sort this out. My concern is that the Church supports unregulated and unlimited immigration, illegal as well as legal. While I support a system that allows anyone who wants to come to the US to be allowed to do so, unless they are known terrorists or criminals who can wreak havoc on society, I also must ask “What about the rule of law”? Is there no penalty for coming to the US, breaking the laws of the land, and creating for themselves a life in the shadows? The arguments for taking jobs of American citizens can also be made as well as the issue of bringing in communicable diseases. But I do feel that if our system of legal entry was made more streamlined we would not have the unchecked flow of human beings, risking their lives, for a better life. It should not take years to apply and be admitted. Does the Church have any opinion on the rule of law vs. the rights of human beings to enter the country illegally? Please help me understand, as I want to be the best Catholic I can possibly be, but I also want to be a patriotic one as well. Any advice on this matter is appreciated. I do not want to get into any “us vs. them” discussions, I just desire a faith-based discussion that can produce favorable opinions on all of this, and help me to reconcile my faith with my duty as an American citizen. Thank you and God bless us all.


The first thing to understand is that this is not the position of the church. She in fact has no position at all on this specific question. You should recognize that political opinions expressed by the USCCB or individual bishops are nothing more than their own beliefs about what actions should be taken; they do not represent the church’s position and we have no obligation to assent to them.*“No episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission; its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops.” *(Cardinal Ratzinger)

While I support a system that allows anyone who wants to come to the US to be allowed to do so, unless they are known terrorists or criminals who can wreak havoc on society…

I disagree with your position but the point is that we are both free to hold and act on our own beliefs.

Does the Church have any opinion on the rule of law vs. the rights of human beings to enter the country illegally?

The church presents guidelines and recognizes that there are conflicting obligations, which it is both the right and the responsibility of the laity to reconcile. She says that states have an obligation to accept immigrants but also the right to control immigration. The church does not specify where that balance is and the USCCB is not speaking for the church when it promulgates its own preferences.



Does the Church have any opinion on the rule of law vs. the rights of human beings to enter the country illegally?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the *foreigner *in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.


I think it’s a mistake to come away from this thinking the Church somehow supports unlimited immigration. Everything I have seen that comes from the Popes always qualifies it by saying it has to be consistent with the welfare of the people who are already in the country to which immigrants go.

There are a lot of layers to the concept of the 'welfare" of those already here. There’s employment, there’s potential crime, there’s potential terrorism, there’s a potential load on the welfare system that can’t be sustained. It’s not a simple thing at all, and the occasional blurb from this cleric or that one often treats it as if it is.

I think we have to be very careful about “immigration reform”. I have long believed that Bush allowed a tremendous amount of illegal immigration as a reaction to the lack of births of the native population. That’s a problem of all developed countries. By failing to rigorously enforce illegal immigration, Bush kept the population growth going (barely) and favored Hispanics who, at least, are Christian and western people.

What would real “reform” mean? Would it mean equal access to this country would have to be given to people from countries where Islamic radicals are prevalent? One can reasonably expect the courts would insist on that. Would the courts allow real vetting of criminals or suspected criminals? Would the Democrat party allow that? Would we even know who had a third DUI in El Salvador and two serious injury accidents?

And what of the illegals who come here because of currency differences, but who have no intention of ever becoming real citizens? I have known a fair number of those. But if the “pathway to citizenship” gives them preference, does anyone doubt there will be a lot of fraud in those wishing to take advantage of it? After all, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is HIGHER than it is in Mexico, for example. The difference is that American currency is worth a lot more than Mexican currency when it comes to buying things in Mexico. Am I justified in insisting that I be allowed to work in Lichtenstein for the very same reason, particularly if my doing so throws Lichtensteiners out of work?

I’m not saying I have the answers, but I do see a serious potential for the citizenry insisting on no immigration at all if the burden on employment, crime, welfare and concerns for terrorism reach a certain level. It’s one thing for Americans to accept millions of Hispanics (which we by and large do). It’s another to accept millions of Yemenis or Pakistanis, ten percent of whom (by polls) are believers in jihad against the infidel.

This is far from being a simple thing. So far, I have not seen anyone come up with a workable solution.


Yes. I think it’s altogether acceptable to plan for what manner of nation we prefer to have, just as city planning and zoning laws are made. I do not wish the victim of birth rate jihad, watching one of the last bastions of western thought become a Muslim nation.


Thanks to all who took the time to respond to my post. I think it’s really important to stress the differences between allowing in people from jihadist and radical Islamist nations and those who truly wish to pursue a better life. I would like to see the borders closed BEFORE any talk of “immigration reform” is taken up seriously. There are some workable ideas afloat and they include legalization for those who are here WORKING already, not the ones behind bars, and the requirement that the former “get in line with with all those already in line” if they desire citizenship. I think the idea that any party would risk the safety of its nation’s citizens simply to garner votes for themselves is traitorous behavior. We already know we CANNOT trust the Democratic Party to uphold any deal cut to close the borders, while giving them their unfettered amnesty demands first, as witnessed under Reagan. I just want to be fair but smart about this, and as I said, my faith comes before any party affiliation. Sadly, the Republicans will not step up this year either, being that it is an election year. We have to pray for an outcome that will eventually benefit all involved, and we should keep a Christ-like heart when it comes to our fellow human beings.


“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Mt 25:35)


Which proposal? Didn’t the same speaker who promised to put an immigration bill to a vote if it was brought before him, just backtrack for the second time? Far be it from me to compare that broken promise to “if you like your ($50/month, limited indemnity, minimal benefits :rolleyes:) insurance plan you can keep it”?


I think they have a valid point that we do not want to establish a permanent legally lower class. We could have a legal caste system. But it is a good start.


I think this is one of those assertions that sounds awful but on reflection is rather meaningless. How does allowing someone to be in the country legally without giving them citizenship consign them to permanent lower class status? Surely if it is beneficial for us that they take jobs from lower class workers it must also be beneficial that they take over middle class jobs as well.



How would it be a “permanent legally lower class”? There are a lot of legal foreign workers in the U.S., and it’s illegal to discriminate against them in any way other than in voting in most elections.

Granting citizenship without illegal immigrants’ having to go through the process legal foreign workers do if they want to become citizens is a different thing. I have a relative from Canada who got her permanent green card to work here, but she has never obtained U.S. citizenship. Didn’t want to, in her case. So the harm to her is what?


Rights of citizenship are more than just voting. How many times on a job application has one had to check whether one is a citizen or not? If there was little difference between citizens and non-citizens there would be little reason to oppose citizenship for all. So take all the arguments against such an open policy, and there is your underclass.


Actually, it’s pretty surprising how little difference there is between the rights of a legal alien with a permanent visa and green card, and a citizen, other than voting.

In my mind, there is a very good reason not to simply allow citizenship to all comers. If one assumes there is anything at all to an “American culture” and social compact, then citizenship does matter. In addition, citizens have a greater stake in the way the nation operates, since they typically do not have one foot in another society to which they can return if political mistakes make life worse here.

One can reasonably believe there is a difference between people who go through the hassle of becoming citizens legally and those who broke the laws to be here at all and are passively awaiting amnesty citizenship.


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