Immigrants, the Church, and the lawA lot of people have asked me my opinion about the immigration debate, and asked me particularly if I feel any sympathy for the illegals/migrant workers, many of whom attempted to boycott the economy today (I do not think that they were successful in this regard) because so many of them are Catholic.
I have understanding for anyone who is truly coming to this country for better opportunity, and I don't blame them for that in the least. I think that the nation's Catholic bishops are primarily concerned that the House proposal would interfere with their obligation under Canon Law to grant the Refuge of the Church to anyone who asks for it. If it did make that requirement, no bishop would obey it, as his obligation to the Church (and therefore to God) trumps the civil law. However, that fear on the part of many bishops seems to me to be an irrational fear. Throughout the history of the nation, even in the most militantly anti-Catholic jurisdictions (in the days of the Know Nothings), local, State, and federal authorities have at least respected the Patrimony of the Church. I seriously doubt that respect would stop with the passage of a stricter immigration law.
If immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries are going to come to America, it must be for a greater opportunity than work, citizenship must be their goal. Our laws require a process whereby citizenship can be earned. I have no problem with people who have Hispanic heritage speaking Spanish in their home-but it ought to be required, certainly in the State of Tennessee, that all public business take place in the English language, and new immigrants need to learn that language. They also need to learn respect for the law-something that, for those among them who are Catholics, is a teaching of our Faith. Our laws say you need to have documentation to work in the United States, and so the newcomers need to be taught that Americans respect the rule of law.
At present, we have a government that is content to teach our new arrivals that it is alright for them to break the law in America. The administration wants them to be given amnesty and "guest worker permits" as a reward for breaking the law. Assuming that most of the new arrivals would stay, just what does that teach them about the nature of the rule of law in America?