Unboxing the catechism on immigration (and an aspect that rarely makes the news)


Showing a passport (CC0 via pixabay)

Believe it or not, the Catechism covers immigration in one issue, #2241. This number declares two functions that go in opposite directions. The USCCB does a good job of explaining both while quoting all of #2241.

The first duty is to welcome the stranger out of charity and out of respect for the human person. People have the right to immigrate and therefore the government should accommodate this right to the fullest extent possible, especially financially advantaged nations: “The most prosperous nations are obliged, as far as they can, to to welcome the foreigner in search of security and means of subsistence which he does not find in his country of origin. The public authorities must see to it that the natural law which places a guest under the protection of those who welcome him is respected. Catholic Catechism, 2241.

The second duty is to secure its border and enforce the law for the common good. Sovereign nations have the right to have their laws respected and everyone must respect the legitimate exercise of this right: “Political authorities, in the interest of the common good for which they are responsible, may subordinate the exercise of the right to to immigrate to various legal provisions. conditions, particularly with regard to the duties of immigrants towards their adopted country. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country which welcomes them, to obey its laws and to help carry the civic burdens. Catholic Catechism, 2241.

It is difficult to maintain a balance between these two functions. The duty to welcome immigrants we can welcome and the duty to regulate immigration and to require immigrants to respect the laws and customs of the new country.

USCCB Judgment

In 2013, the USCCB noted a significant point where none of these obligations are truly tracked. We are creating a system that encourages some form of immigration without giving them legal status or protection.

Today’s unauthorized immigrants are largely low-skilled workers who come to the United States to work to support their families. Over the past few decades, the demand from American businesses large and small for low-skilled workers has grown exponentially, while the supply of workers available for low-skilled jobs has shrunk. Yet there are only 5,000 green cards available each year for low-skilled workers to legally enter the United States to reside and work there. The only alternative to this is a temporary work visa through the H‐2A (Agricultural Seasonal) or H2B (Non-Agricultural Seasonal) visa programs which grant temporary status to low-skilled workers seeking to legally enter the country. Although H‐2A visas are not numerically limited, the requirements are onerous. H‐2B visas are capped at 66,000 per year. Both only offer temporary status to work for a US employer for one year. At their current numbers, these are woefully insufficient to provide the foreign-born with legal means to enter the United States to live and work, and thus meet our demand for native-born labor. ‘foreign.

We need hundreds of thousands of low-skilled immigrants to mow lawns, pick crops, clean hotel rooms, etc. However, we do not allow this legally. Thus, a system of illegal immigration continues: we do not welcome immigrants and do not grant them the protections of the law, nor do they follow regulated immigration.

Other immigration issues

The USCCB does not mention it but legal immigration seems very complex and bureaucratic in the USA. I’m a Canadian citizen with 10 years of post-secondary education and a sponsor promising full-time employment who’s seen a paralegal a few times, and I’ve always found the process difficult. I can only imagine someone with minimal education trying to get by.

Father Jonathan Morris has analyzed the current situation well.

We should be ashamed of our current system in which we entice immigrants to come, as they may, with the assurance of illegal employment, but without the assurance of security or fair treatment. In this sense, I don’t mind shaming our indifference and ignorance towards this reality and trying to awaken our national conscience. […]

It is not enough to say that we are in favor of “legal” immigration, as if the simple application of current laws were enough to solve our immigration crisis. Democrats and Republicans (including President Trump) have so far failed to rectify the hypocritical system we currently have. This system uses cheap labor saying you can’t come without a visa, and you can’t get a visa if you are poor, but if you manage to cross the border you will find work when you arrive here. And when you’re here and we give you work, we’ll pay you very little and you’ll have to live in the shadows for fear of random ICE raids. Oh, and if a young child is brought here, through no fault of his own, and grows up here all his life, he will live in fear of being deported to a land he has never known.

This is an unfair and dangerous situation for everyone. But it continues because it is too convenient for many of our small and large businesses, for example the restaurant, agriculture, landscaping and construction industries, to name a few. -unes, who benefit greatly and pressure Congress to do nothing at all because the status quo means money. […]

Currently, if you live in Central America or Mexico and are poor, it is almost impossible to obtain a work visa.

“Just get in line”, is an easy and offensive argument because for most people who cross illegally, there is no queue. The same goes for the simplistic argument of blaming countries of origin. Of course, these foreign governments deserve a lot of blame, especially for corruption and violence, but complaining from afar gets us nowhere.

The problems we have with illegal/unauthorized/undocumented immigration stem from a problem with our legal immigration system. Our legal immigration system provides far fewer than the number of visas needed and makes them complex to obtain. The solution is not to complain, band-aid or block Congress, but to reform the system.


Comments are closed.