Thursday, June 05, 2008

Immigration Revisited

Previously, in my series on Being Catholic in America, we have discussed
Immigration issues in a general and cursory manner.

Recently, Zenit, a non-profit news agency which reports news from the Vatican and other Catholic sources, published an interview with Johnny Young the director of the U.S. Bishop's Conference on Migration and Refugee services.

Mr. Young has several important and timely points to make about immigration reform and the upcoming election. I shall quote a few, but I suggest you read the entire article linked above.

Young explains the myths and misconceptions about immigrants which result from fear and ignorance and are often passed off as reasons for limiting immigration reform or to simply "keep them out." Young says,

In terms of the undocumented, the problems are numerous. For example, there is the myth of the undocumented not paying taxes and draining the system of resources for social service benefits of one kind or another. The empirical evidence demonstrates otherwise. They do pay taxes and are not an undue burden on social services.

In terms of taxes, they have paid billions into the Social Security system and will not collect a penny from it. They are in effect, helping to keep the Social Security system afloat. This, of course, is in addition to what the undocumented pay in income, real estate, sales and other federal and state taxes.

Then there is the forgotten fact that the undocumented are no different than any of us in wanting to do the best for their families.
Clearly, we must remember that these immigrant, documented or undocumented (NOT LEGAL OR ILLEGAL!!!) are human persons made in the image and likeness of God. Generally speaking they have the well- being of their families at heart, and they do a lot more than simply drain on our economy.

Most important of all is that the plight of the undocumented is part of a dilemma that has the American people in a conflicted situation of wanting it both ways, i.e. having the benefits of the labor and sweat of the undocumented, but without allowing them a pathway to citizenship for what they have contributed to our well-being and country.

This problem could, of course, be corrected through passage of a comprehensive immigration reform law.
Therefore, Young can add that,

From a Catholic perspective, once parishioners become better informed of Catholic social teaching, one would expect that they would become more welcoming of the stranger. After all, that is part of what their faith is all about. Unfortunately, not enough of our Catholic brethren are sufficiently grounded in these teachings, which are based on biblical principles and are all intended to open the heart to the wonders of God’s love.
Finally, paraphrasing some of what Pope Benedict XVI had to say in him visit the US, Young concludes,

[Pope Benedict] not only reminded us of those historical and biblical facts [which us to welcome the stranger and to care for the migrant], but reminded us of our duty to be kind to them, as the nation had been in the past. He was being the good shepherd in trying to steer his flock and the nation to which it belongs in the right direction.

If that simple reminder were being followed today, this country would not be experiencing the kind of turmoil it is presently undergoing in trying to come to grips with a totally broken immigration system.

We Americans derive many, many benefits from the sweat and hard work of immigrants and accept the benefits derived from their work as God given advantages and part of the blessings bestowed on this great country. At the same time, though, we don't want to give those who have "paid dues" through their labor and hardships a pathway to citizenship. This is simply not fair or just.
As Catholics we are called to follow the teachings of Christ and His Bride, Holy Mother Church, and our Holy Father Pope Benedict on this very important social issue. Let our opinions be led by the Spirit of Love and Hope and not by our political affiliations.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in us the courage and the hope to challenge our politicians and our government to work towards immigration reform that is just and charitable to all involved.

1 comment:

Padre Steve said...

Very nice post! I think with all of the immigration debate we tend to forget that we are talking about human beings. Charity has to be at the forefront of the discussion if we are really a Christian Nation.