Immigration, justice and reality | Catholic National Register


EDITORIAL: It is worth considering how some of the human realities related to immigration have changed over the past decades and how our laws and policies can better respond to them.

The United States immigration system is broken. Our decades-long failure to secure our borders and pursue fair reforms in the way we welcome migrants has made our laws ineffective and our policies inadequate.

The deceptive rhetoric and inept implementation of the Biden administration certainly exacerbated the problem. But the recent encampment of 13,000 immigrants, mostly Haitians, along the southern border – and the record summer wave of immigration that preceded it – are just the latest examples of a failed system that has caused failure. both the American people and those seeking a better life. here.

Part of the violation of our laws stems from their inability to respond to the changing circumstances, which are hallmarks of life on this side of heaven. Human laws are not perfect ideals but are practical attempts at righteousness which must always be open to greater conformity with the law of God. One of the justifications for legal reform, notes St. Thomas Aquinas, lies in changes in human conditions. It is worth considering how some of the human realities related to immigration have changed over the past decades and how our laws and policies can better respond to them.

On the one hand, globalization has radically changed the nature of our relationships with people in other parts of the world. While someone like St. Thomas had little practical connection with someone overseas, the reality for us today is quite different. For better or for worse, our lives are virtually tied – culturally, economically, even politically – to people all over the world.

We must take this reality into account to determine our responsibilities and seek justice, as Pope Francis points out in Fratelli Tutti (All brothers). His predecessors also insisted on this point. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, for example, wrote that “in an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to achieve it cannot fail to take on the dimensions of the entire human family”.

Applied to immigration, this type of solidarity means that we must take seriously our duty to help those in other parts of the world to live free from violence and poverty, especially given the prosperity. relative material of America, obtained through the globalized economy.

While it is true that too much of this wealth has been amassed by the super-rich at the expense of the American working class, this should force us to tackle our problems of national income inequality, without ignoring the comes out of the others. For a country as prosperous as the United States, choosing between taking care of our own and helping those from elsewhere is a false choice.

Acknowledging our interdependence is not a call for utopian and borderless absurdities, nor a motive for neglecting our most immediate responsibilities at home. Instead, it’s a call to take responsibility that comes with being luckier than others. In fact, an important step in immigration reform must be tackling the factors that motivate people to leave their home countries, which the Biden administration has at least said it wants to tackle. But, as the Catechism says, we must also “welcome the foreigner in search of security and means of subsistence that he cannot find in his country of origin”, insofar as we can.

Immigration policies must also be assessed in terms of their impact on the common good of the host country. The social doctrine of the Church is very clear that immigrants have a duty to respect the culture of their new country and to contribute to its community life. Countries also have the right to consider how different peoples can or cannot contribute to the common good – and to regulate immigration accordingly – precisely because they have a duty to ensure the safety and well-being of their citizens. .

But too often, politicians and commentators talk about immigration in relation to a conception of American society that does not exist. Ethnically, culturally and socially, America is not the same as it was 50 years ago, let alone the way it was when it was founded. And we respond to ideology, not the gospel, when we use nostalgia instead of reality as a starting point in determining how to promote the common good today.

We can and must speak out against some of these changes – increasing secularism, increasing decadence, and widespread denial of basic human truths. But this decentralization is our own creation, not the product of immigration.

In fact, immigrants to America tend to be more religious and socially conservative than their native born counterparts. Additionally, immigrants to the United States generally integrate well into society, in part because America’s cultural foundation is rooted in political ideals, not inherent ethnic or historical ties. At a time when America suffers from a crisis of apathy, if not utter disregard, for its own values, we might wonder if those who are willing to risk their lives to come to our country could actually contribute, and not decrease, our common good.

True justice also demands a reassessment of how we enforce and even punish illegal immigration.

A nation certainly has the right to control its borders, regulate the influx of immigrants, and apply punitive measures – including expulsion – for those who enter illegally. But sometimes this application is viewed in an abstract and unrealistic way, especially in cases where a person has lived in the country for decades or entered it as a minor.

Deporting someone who has spent most of their life in America – contributing to our communities, serving in our hospitals and the military, paying a large chunk of our taxes – is unfair application of the law because the punishment of uprooting the life of someone is not proportionate to his violation. , which generally consists of establishing an illegal stay either by exceeding the duration of a visa or by crossing an authorized border. Alternatives, such as fines or the service required as a reward, as well as directing them towards a solid process of obtaining legalized status, are more reasonable and fair ways of correcting these situations. America missed its best chance at comprehensive immigration reform almost 10 years ago, when a cross-cutting effort for comprehensive reform was sunk by partisan politics. Today’s political climate is much worse.

The best thing American Catholics can do now is to avoid the polarization of political parties and fear of demagogues and instead serve as leaven in our national discourse by calling for real justice for immigrants and the American people.

Even more, we can resist the temptation to political abstraction and find ways to respond to the very real call to serve the immigrants in need who are in our country today.

Our first question shouldn’t be “Where are you from?” But “How can I help?” As we follow the example of the Good Samaritan – and ultimately Jesus Christ – in embracing all we meet as our neighbors, worthy of love and dignity.

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