At this time, immigration is in the forefront of the media due to recent actions in Arizona. Many of us are concerned for the well being of all involved and people of good will differ on how to deal with the issue. The Church has not been silent about the need for a just solution to the issues surrounding immigration. However, most people have no idea what the Church has been saying. For details of the Church’s teaching on social justice in this regard, I point you to the U.S. Bishop’s web site.
In 2003, the U.S. Bishops issued a pastoral letter entitled, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope (http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/stranger.shtml), whereby they articulated five principles that govern how the Church responds to public policy proposals relating to immigration. The principles are philosophical and theological responses taken from the Gospel teachings and the teachings of Popes. All five principles need to be held in balance, not one over the other, not one at the expense of another.
1. Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland
2. Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families
3. Sovereign nations have a right to control their borders
4. Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection
5. The human rights and the human dignity of undocumented migrants should be respected
For more information, the bishops have created an additional web site: justiceforimmigrants.org/ I also highly recommend an informative article by Bishop John C. Webster which can be found online: http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/wester-interview.pdf
As a country, this issue will not be going away anytime soon. As long as there is such contrast in poverty and wealth between borders as there is between the U.S. and Mexico, as long as there is a market for drugs here and supply south of our borders, and as long as our immigration process remains broken and our borders insecure, people will be arguing about how to solve this issue. And these are only a few of the issues amongst many in this complex situation.
Finally, please keep all those involved in your prayers. Remember to keep charity in your heart and try to see all the sides of the issues. Remember that people of good will may disagree, but we are called to put on the mind of Christ and reflect the Gospel at all times.
Fr. William Holtzinger