Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"But they're Catholic, too..."

I'd like to respond briefly to a comment posted on my recent post "Bishop's love affair with illegal aliens", posted earlier today. I thank this reader for his comments, though I respectfully disagree with them. I hope he does not mind me using his comment to further elaborate my point.

Here is his comment, with my interpolations in red:

For me, and I'm sure for many others, the reason I empathize with the latin american immigrants, even the illegal ones, is that they so much resemble the other Catholic minorites - Irish & Italian - that struggled in much the same way [Do they really resemble them? I come from a family of Italian immigrants. I can trace my family right back to Sicily in the 1870's; I've seen the pedigree. Do you know why I can do this? Because they came here legally through Ellis Island and there are records of their coming over; everything is documented. After a few years they became citizens, dropped their native tongue; their kids were regular English speaking Americans. There is a huge difference between the old Irish-Italian immigration and this current wave].

America's immigration history is rife with anti-Catholicism, so I think the Catholic Church is right to support these people [So what? Nobody that I know of opposes mass illegal Mexican immigration because they are Catholic (and I personally am dubious of their Catholicism). I am opposed to them for three reasons (1) they come here illegally (2) they lower wages and take our profits back to Mexico, and (3) they don't assimilate].

I don't mean politically support illegal immigration, I mean offering support to them, such as services, education, training - things that help them build the better life they came to America for [I think they ought to be able to get medical attention, food, etc. But education and training? Why? I have to pay for my education. A person who violates the sovereignty of our nation by sneaking in here illegally is entitled to nothing in the way of public handouts. I'm sorry, but I don't care if it makes them better persons or not. If you want the benefits, you have to stand in line just like everybody else. Furthermore, too often the bishops' support of immigration rights turns into an active support for the right of anybody to immigrate into this country by any means necessary. This is terrible] .

The way I see it, the problem isn't so much the illegal immigrants. The huge majority of them are honest [is someone who breaks the law to get into the country really that honest?], hardworking people [if they were really that hardworking, they'd come in the longer, harder (but legal) way into this country] trying to make a better life for themselves and their families; in that way they are remarkably similar to almost every other American immigrant throughout history [no, they are not. Other immigrants came in legally, their wages stayed within the country instead of being sent back to their homelands, and they wanted to assimilate and learn English, not maintain their own distinct cultural enclaves. There is a tremendous difference].

The real problem is the system, which makes it so hard for these people to come here legally. What the Catholic Church should be doing, I think, is offering support to all her children, regardless of their legal status, while working hard to make changes in the system, so that all may come to America to seek the better life they deserve, especially our Catholic brothers and sisters.

["The real problem is the system, which makes it so hard for these people to come here legally." This reasoning presupposes that it is simply impossible for them not to come here. They have to come here, legally, if possible, but if that is too hard, then they're just going to have to come illegally. This reasoning doesn't seem to take into account the possibility that they don't come here at all. Like when you speak to a pro-choicer about outlawing abortion, they say, "Well, this will just make abortions more dangerous because they will be done underground by "back-alley" abortionists." They just presuppose that women simply have to have abortions and that since it is inevitable, you might as well just legalize it. This is the logic being applied here. If the system is too hard for immigrants to get through, then guess what: no immigrants get through it. Bottom line.]

I'd like to make a few more points. (1) Mass illegal immigration is also bad for the country the immigrants came from because, if they are really so hardworking and honest, then they are depriving their country of its most honest and hardworking people. If they really wanted to make their country better, they ought to stay and apply their talents where they are most needed. Like India: all India's doctors go to study in Britian or the US, but when they get their degrees, they move to those countries for the higher wages. Thus, though India contributes thousands of new doctors every year to the profession, India itself still has very few qualified doctors. (2) A country has the right to keep out any person for any reason, bottom line. The only exception would be genocide, which as the Catechism says, "knows no borders." But this is not the situation with Mexico. (3) Unrestricted immigration has not been the norm throughout most of American history. There was a large Irish boom in the 1860's and a large Italian boom in the 1910's, but did you know that for most of the 20th century, until the 1960's, there were limits set on the number of immigrants a certain country could send a year? The average for a third world country was about 600. That's it. This only started to change in the 60's and 70's.

Of course, the Catholic Church should offer material support to anybody who comes looking for it. But it ought not encourage immigration of illegals by setting up cooling stations in the desert, and bottled water centers, and sending her priests to speak at pro-immigration rallies. This crosses the line from supporting human needs to promoting a political agenda, which is what is so troubling to me.

Many thanks for the blogger who posted this comment originally.

See this post on the Catholicity of many central American Catholics.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

I think you are 100% right in your views on illegal immigration. My grandparents too came here LEGALLY from Italy.