The Catechism of the Catholic Church has something to say about immigration, not because it’s a hot political topic, but because it’s a moral one.
In my last article, I wrote about capital punishment – a hot political and moral topic – and received many comments. I feel compelled to acknowledge these comments because they helped me think about the issue in a new way. Several people shared personal stories that made me realize what people have suffered from criminals on death row. Others spoke of the possibility of repenting and reflecting on death row. The question of the dignity of the executioner also arises. This question is certainly worth considering. Finally, when I discuss the death penalty another time, I will base myself on Romans 13:3-4 and Ezekiel 33:11. The first seems to support the death penalty while the second seems to say, at least, that God takes no pleasure in punishing. In sum, I am very grateful for all the comments.
Immigration and the Catechism
Like the death penalty, I was drawn to the hot topic of immigration due to a series of interviews I heard from a Franciscan priest. Immigration, like the death penalty, is a thorny issue, but also one on which the Church has spoken out clearly.
There are arguably two main principles of immigration found in the Catechism. First, people have the right to migrate when they need to. Second, nations have the right to limit the number of people immigrating according to their resources. I will briefly examine each of these two questions.
The right to immigrate
The right to immigrate is granted by the political community according to the Catechism. To quote the Catechism, “the political community has the duty to honor the family, to assist it, and above all to watch over it. . .the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate” (2211). Immigration is therefore a basic human right that should not be denied. We all have the right to seek a better life for ourselves and our families. In fact, we have a duty to support our families.
The right to restrict immigration
The same idea of having a duty to our families can be applied to the issue of limiting the number of immigrants. Immigration can be rightly limited by countries in the same way that a family unit has the right to protect what is its own. Paragraph 2241 explains that “The most prosperous nations are obliged, so far as they can, to accommodate the foreign in search of security and livelihoods that he cannot find in his country of origin. Thus, as the duty of parents is first towards their children, the State must first take care of the needs of its citizens before extending its generosity to foreigners.
Reasons to limit immigration
Paragraph 2241 explains what might limit a nation’s obligation to allow immigrants into the country. It specifies that “political authorities, in the interest of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various legal conditions, in particular with regard to the duties of immigrants towards their adopted country. “. The Catechism means that immigrants should not be admitted indiscriminately. A proper verification process must be in place to keep the country safe. The opening of borders leads criminals and miscreants to enter the country to the detriment of citizens. Then, the Catechism goes on to explain that an immigrant must “respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country which welcomes him, obey its laws and help carry the civic burdens”. This suggests that an immigrant’s right to stay in the country and perhaps even enter it depends on their behavior. Again, the Catechism advocates generosity, but it also upholds basic common sense.
In conclusion, we might wonder what the US government’s policy should be towards the many people crossing the southern border. In short, where does this lead us? First, however complex the debate, the basic principles remain the same. Immigrants have the right to seek asylum while nations have the right to limit the number of immigrants entering the country. Whether or not the United States allows immigrants to enter the country should be based on a calculation of remaining resources. It should not be based on the race of a particular immigrant or, most likely, the religion of the person entering the country. Second, it seems clear that as a powerful and prosperous country, the United States has an obligation to welcome many more immigrants. Nevertheless, as protectors of its citizens, the United States has at least an equally strong obligation to control these immigrants and ensure that the basic rights of current citizens are not threatened. So, I hope that when US government officials consider proposals such as a border wall, they do so out of charity for both its citizens and immigrants.