Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
My heart was breaking at the news yesterday, watching video of Mexican Federal Police confronting immigrants who were trying to cross their border; families, women and children, husbands and fathers and sons, all looking for a better life.
They want to live in a just society
They are fleeing crime and violence, the threat of murder. They are heading north from South and Central America on foot, hoping to find jobs and a secure place to raise their children.
The Mexican Federali’s met them in force, in riot gear, used tear gas on them and pepper spray. They are doing this because Donald Trump threatened to close the border with Mexico if they did not do something to stop this annual migration of people.
This is a crime against humanity, and T-Rump is responsible for it.
People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families. This is the first principle of Catholic Social Teaching.
The challenges that the United States are facing in regard to immigration are not a crisis, it is the product of poor policy. We actually need immigrants, we need their labor, we need their contribution to our shrinking labor force, we need them to help us secure the future of Social Security and other entitlement programs.
We are a nation of immigrants and we need continued immigration to keep our society healthy and whole.
The challenges we face are nowhere near the scale of the challenges that Europe faces in the modern day, or the crises Europe faced at the end of world War II when “Pope Pius XII wrote Exsul Familia (The Emigre Family), placing the Church squarely on the side of those seeking a better life by fleeing their homes.”
Nevertheless, “because of the belief that newcomers compete for scarce resources, immigrants and refugees are at times driven away, resented, or despised.” This is a grievous moral sin and we are complicit in it when we allow our elected representatives to advance policies in furtherance of these crimes.
“People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families….the goods of the earth belong to all people.” This cannot be overlooked, our own history as the children and grandchildren of immigrants should never be forgotten. Our country is big enough, and great enough to support these migrations, and there is no doubt that we will be enriched through them.
Not all Americans are Christian, and public policy should never be based on the religious traditions of one religion over another, and though I am citing the teachings of Christianity in support of my claims, these principles on human migrations have been upheld by the United Nations and are detailed in the International Declaration on Human Rights that the United States of America is signatory too.
The basic tenets of the Christian faith teach us that: “Every person has an equal right to receive from the earth what is necessary for life—food, clothing, shelter. Moreover, every person has the right to education, medical care, religion, and the expression of one’s culture.” The United States of America is strong enough and wealthy enough to defend these principles, to defend these moral values, and to defend our identity as the leader of the so-called “Free World,” by furthering this mission, by living up to these aspirations. We cannot allow ourselves to be demoralized by the lying and corrupt cynicism of a man like Donald Trump, who seeks to bring suffering on poor people, not to protect America, but for his own political self interest.
It is disgusting.
These poor people who are trying to make it to America “live in fear, danger, and dehumanizing poverty….it is not God’s will that some of his children live in luxury while others have nothing.” Remember this, all of you who pretend to promote Christian values, “in Luke’s Gospel, the rich man was condemned for living well while the poor man starved at his doorstep (Lk 16:19-31).”
The entire Nation of Jewish people were once aliens in a foreign land, forced to labor without rights or recourse to the law. King David was descended from a Moabite, and Jesus was born in exile.
The fundamental truth that underpins the entire experiment in American democracy is this; our rights do not come from government, they are derived from God, and they are inalienable. “The native does not have superior rights over the immigrant. Before God all are equal; the earth was given by God to all. When a person cannot achieve a meaningful life in his or her own land, that person has the right to move.”
When those immigrants show the strength of will to walk thousands of mile, simply for the hope that they will have a better future for themselves and for their children, living in a just society, we want them here.
They make us better as a people, not worse.