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USCCB moderates tone on immigration reform? July 19, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, Immigration, Society.

It’s amazing the impact a massive popular backlash can have on people’s opinions.  A few months ago, we had a number of bishops telling Catholics that a law passed in Arizona intended to curb illegal immigration after the ridiculous failure of the federal government was “racist,” or to made use of Stalinist of Nazi-type terror tactics to curb the onslaught of illegal immigrants.   Now, in the wake of polls that show a large majority of Americans supporting Arizona’s law, and some 20% indicating that it does not go far enough (meaning that over 75% of Americans are in support of much more strict immigration controls), the bishops seem to be walking back their rhetoric a bit.  From Catholic Culture:

Addressing the issue of immigration reform, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson told a congressional subcommittee on July 14 that “the US Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB] wholeheartedly agrees that the rule of law is paramount, and that those who break the law should be held accountable.” In a change of tone from previous bishops’ statements, Bishop Kicanas, who serves as USCCB vice president, added, “Comprehensive immigration reform would honor the rule of law and help restore it by requiring 11 million undocumented to pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, and get in the back of the line. We believe this a proportionate penalty for the offense

As always, the devil is in the details, and as Carl Olsen at IgnatiusInsight points out, if one delves into the full text of Bishop Kicanas’ statements to Congress, while the headline rhetoric has changed, the bishops are still claiming those opposed to immigration reform have basically ugly motives and try to use emotion, rather than sound reasoning, to support their cause.   In fact, the USCCB is still wholeheartedly in favor of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which was tried and died a bloody death in Congress in 2007, and which is even less popular in the United States than it was then.  And they are still using very unfair rhetoric in claiming that much opposition to illegal immigration stems from a view that illegals are somehow less than human and thus deserve the Zyklon B treatment in the view of open immigration opponents like me.   As Olsen says:

Seriously, how does the term “illegal alien” characterize someone as “less than human”? “Illegal” describes the action/status of the person who is unlawfully where he shouldn’t be, and “alien”, in this context, means exactly what the dictionary says it means: “a resident born in or belonging to another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization.” Why is this so hard to comprehend?

And yet, from the words of Bishop Kicanas, it would seem the USCCB holds the view that those opposed to illegal immigration or current plans for “comprehensive immigration reform,” which entails all illegals currently in the US being made legal at the wave of a wand, are operating from ugly and sinister motives.  Heck, I’d even describe such rhetoric as UNPASTORAL, which I thought was the cardinal sin to commit in these post Vatican II days. 

The bishop says much more, stating that the voters are  just frustrated that “comprehensive immigration reform” hasn’t passed (ha!), and that spending time on illegal immigration redirects law enforcement efforts away from more “legitimate” crime, even though illegal aliens are already criminals in the eyes of the law and have rates of “legitimate” crime many times higher than the average population.  Once again, however, I think the bishops will leave most Catholics, and even more Americans, wondering at some of the rhetoric involved.  There are essentially no credible voices stating that immigration is in any way a negative for the United States, only that in the present national security and economic environments uncontrolled immigration over our southern border imposes unacceptable risks and costs to the United States.   There are few arguments presented in the illegal immigration discussions from what I will call the pro-status quo or pro-illegal side that do not involve emotion and logical fallacies.  In spite of their arguments, immigration reform will not happen in this country until something is done to better control our southern border.  I don’t know if this means a fence, a minefield, tens of thousands more border agents, high tech surveillance, or what, but for a very large and stable majority of Americans, they don’t want to hear about “amnesty” or “comprehensive immigration reform” (read: same as amnesty) until the problem of seriously reducing the influx of illegals is addressed.  Once that goal is achieved, I think reasoned discussions on what to do with the millions of illegals already here can begin.

When the bishops absolutely refuse to address this point, and insist on supporting legislation that will maintain the status quo on the border and turn millions of illegals into legal citizens, making a mockery of those who wait many long years to enter the United States from a place like the UK, Canada, or Germany, they appear to be ignoring the rule of law (have no doubt, this is what will occur).  Many doubt the bishops claimed reasoning, that they are only seeking to provide charity for their neighbor, when there are vast numbers of non-Catholic Africans or Asians who would like to come to the US which they do not lobby on behalf of, whereas they expend great efforts on behalf of largely Catholic hispanics.  Their preferred position, “comprehensive immigration reform,” would allow these many illegal hispanics a far quicker and surer path to citizenship than your denizen of Rwanda, or Mali, or Poland, or Thailand, who normally waits 10-15 years for the priviledge of coming here, if they can come at all.   “Comprehensive immigration reform” would not make it easier for everyone to become US citizens, just formerly illegal aliens who are almost uniformly hispanic. 

Curious, that.


1. Subvet - July 19, 2010

FWIW, I recommend reading “The Immorality of Illegal Immigration”. Written by a retired priest, it makes several excellent points. Among them is the culpability of the Mexican government in the problem, the detrimental effects on our own ethnic minorities in their struggle to better themselves, the harm done to families of the illegals, etc.

Can’t recommend it enough.

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