Praised be Jesus Christ! Today (I’m writing this on July 2nd) the heads of the U.S. Bishops’ conference are visiting the Mexican border to draw attention to the plight of immigrants. There has been an ocean of ink spilled regarding this topic and our prayers are for some effective and lasting changes that will make this a more reasonable and humane process. Before sharing some basic points for our consideration, the first lesson we can learn is that our best chance for improving this lamentable situation is to actually spend some time thinking, researching, praying, and then discussing with others. Our world makes all of these things difficult and often times people go to their corners and start recklessly slinging mud. Relevant Radio’s Patrick Madrid is one of the guys I like to listen to because he is slow to make judgments and has a rather robust prayer life that begets wisdom. Now on to the points about immigration that are germane to our consideration: 1) the southern border of the U.S. is a mess – laws are outdated and enforcement chaotic, thereby making the current system often inhumane. But this goes back decades.... 2) Inconsistent enforcement of laws has created a human rights crisis, one that sadly results in as many as 80% of migrant women and girls being raped before they even reach the U.S. 3) The Trump Administration issued a “zero tolerance” policy earlier this year in an attempt to end the chaos at the border. It was this policy that resulted in the odious practice of separating children from their parents. Now these are some very basic observations that lead us to understand that immigration is a big problem for our country. Having laws that regulate who can enter our country is a reasonable enterprise. For example, we tend to be careful about who we would allow to stay in our home, especially if we have young children. A similar reality is in play when countries are discerning about who they allow to enter and who is denied. Our politicians have a duty to change some of the existing laws so that our immigration process is a reasonable one that will protect us from known criminals while allowing men, women, and children of good will to enter and make a contribution to this land of the free and home of the brave. Right now the process is so hopelessly impossible that many immigrants give up and simply cheat the system by sneaking in by whatever means available. If the process were more humane and reasonable, it would significantly reduce the temptation to break the law. Another element is that once reasonable practices are in place and just laws are created, we must do a better job of enforcing the laws in a consistent and just fashion. Frankly, it seems that immigration has not been all that important and so has sat on the backburner of American politics for generations. Our Bishops have long lent their voice to this extremely important civil rights issue, but mostly to no avail. And even though the social media gets carried away and turns just about any event into a veritable tempest in a teapot, maybe now that some tranquility has returned to this topic we’ll find some real progress being made. God knows this will be an extremely delicate and difficult process – determining who can come and who cannot is not a job I would ever want. But we’re hardly alone in this, as European countries find themselves struggling with the same questions. For as long as human beings have lived on this planet we’ve tended to be territorial and that means some people are excluded. While there are legitimate reasons to have a border so as to protect our own interests, we also have a God-given duty to treat non-citizens with charity. So we pray for our politicians (which we should be doing a lot more of – have you signed up for a weekly hour of Eucharistic Adoration?), that they will propose, debate and ultimately find solutions that work.
May God bless America and all who hope to join us as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin