The current immigration system is undoubtedly flawed. Ineffective border enforcement strategies have contributed to numerous deaths, many immigrants have been forced to live in an unauthorized capacity, and family members of lawful permanent residents have been required to wait years for reunion. Most importantly, there is a need to balance the interests of border security with the interests of people seeking a better life in the United States.
A humane immigration policy must reconcile competing interests. It must not excuse unlawful entry or circumventions of immigration laws, but it must respond to the realities of separated families and growing labor demands. A promising approach is a comprehensive system of immigration that upholds the dignity of those transferring to a new country, while also including some border enforcement measures.
THE CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE
According to section 2241 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are two major duties with regards to immigration. The first duty is to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person. People have the right to immigrate when necessary and governments must accommodate this right as best as possible. The second duty is to secure the border of the nation and enact laws for the sake of the common good. Good government has the right to enforce laws and all people must obey the legitimate laws established by the government.
The Catholic Church in the United States is characteristically an immigrant Church, with a long history of embracing diverse newcomers and providing assistance and pastoral care. Catholics have a moral obligation to “welcome the stranger” (see Matt. 25:31-46) because it is a way in which they may encounter Christ.
In their pastoral letter Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity, the U.S. Catholic Bishops declare:
In this context of opportunity and challenge that is the new immigration, we bishops of the United States reaffirm the commitment of the Church, in the words of Pope John Paul II, to work "so that every person's dignity is respected, the immigrant is welcomed as a brother or sister, and all humanity forms a united family which knows how to appreciate with discernment the different cultures which comprise it" (Message for World Migration Day 2000, no. 5). We call upon all people of good will, but Catholics especially, to welcome the newcomers in their neighborhoods and schools, in their places of work and worship, with heartfelt hospitality, openness, and eagerness both to help and to learn from our brothers and sisters, of whatever race, religion, ethnicity, or background.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
-The position of the Catholic Church on Immigration Reform
-USCCB: Immigration Enforcement
-FAQs about comprehensive immigration reform and policy
-Cardinal Dolan: “Immigration Reform: A Moral Imperative”
Support Catholic initiatives to welcome immigrants
-Join the Justice for Immigrants campaign
-Facts and figures
Contact government representatives
-Send a postcard to Congress expressing support for meaningful immigration reform
Welcome immigrants into the community
-Host social events at homes and parishes
-Parish activities to help immigrants and those on the move
-JFI parish kit
Consider making a monetary contribution
-Donate to the National Catholic Fund for Migration and Refugee Services
We must pray especially for migrant families who are caught in the midst of immigration reform.
Good and gracious God,
we thank you for the gift of families.
We are grateful for all of the joy and love
that they bring into our lives,
and we ask that you provide
special protection for all families,
particularly those who face hardships
as they move in search of a better life.
Show mercy to those who travel in danger,
and lead them to a place of safety and peace.
Comfort those who are alone and afraid
because their families have been torn apart
by violence and injustice.
As we reflect upon the difficult journey
that the Holy Family faced as refugees in Egypt,
help us to remember the suffering of all migrant
families. Through the intercession of
Mary our Mother, and St. Joseph the Worker,
her spouse, we pray that all migrants may be
reunited with their loved ones and find the
meaningful work they seek.
Open our hearts so that we may provide
hospitality for all who come in search of refuge.
Give us the courage to welcome every stranger
as Christ in our midst. We ask this through our
Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and
reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.
Download the prayer card.