Sunday, May 06, 2007

Social Justice?

In the social justice section of the Diocese of Austin's newsletter The Catholic Spirit in the section entitled "Social Justice" I found an article titled "Catholic immigration position is pro-life, pro-family." HERE is a link to the article.

The article gives the story of a family father, Enrique, who recieves a temporary worker permit and comes to the US to work. He has to work in the US because he can no longer make any money from farming corn in Mexico due to the United States' free trade agreement with Mexico which makes the corn shipped from north of the border extremely cheap. Aside from being a shot at the US' free-trade agreement and implying its our fault his corn doesn't make money, the article continues to go on by saying that it could be seven or eight years before his family could join Enrique as legal immigrants. The article's author, Barbara Budde, tells us

"The realistic picture is that Enrique and his family are completely separated for seven to eight years. For seven to eight years, Enrique’s wife is deprived of her husband and their children are left fatherless –– not because of death, but because of immigration laws. Is it any wonder that people would consider breaking such laws to be with their family?For every Enrique who came to the United States legally, there are thousands who have been forced to come illegally because they cannot support themselves or their families in their home countries. That is why the Catholic Church supports immigration reform. We are pro-life and pro-family. Families facing starvation is not a pro-life concept and families living in long term forced separation is not a pro-family concept."

It is certainly a sad story, but while Enrique is certainly separated from his family for maybe seven or eight years, is his family really fatherless? Separation doesn't leave a family fatherless. Do the children not know who sends them the money they eat with? While not ideal, is he not setting a fatherly example of sacrifice for his family? It seems to be assumed that immigration to the United States is an inherent right for everyone.

There are two main points I want to make regarding the short-sightedness of both the article and immigration liberalization supporters. First, no one every mentions why there is a problem in Mexico (save Mrs. Budde's blaming the US because of NAFTA). In the United States we always work for social reform, how much are we hearing this call in Mexico? In the US, the government subsidizes farmer's crops, paying them not to grow more than a certain amount, therefore keeping the prices and the supply at a reasonable level. Is this happening in Mexico? I certainly don't know, but surely if corn prices are bad in Mexico they should model their system after ours rather than send their population to us. A certain "give a man a fish..." cliche comes to mind. If the Church in Mexico and Mexicans would support government reforms (they are a democracy after all) in that country to help the people in the long term then immigration laws would be a non-issue. Instead, blame America for not letting more people be Americans is the rallying cry.

Point number two, in a post 9/11 world liberalized immigration laws can't work. I happen to have a particularly different insight into this since I was a military intelligence analyst and I worked the Americas for a couple of years. Interestingly enough, its not just Mexicans crossing our borders. Other foreign nationals have been caught, and low corn prices weren't their motivation. I've been reminded by so-called immigration "reformers" that the US is a nation of immigrants. While true, it would be self-deception to say that we weren't also now a nation of true Americans. Would it not be pro-life and pro-family to protect those who are citizens of this country? Mrs. Budde says "Starvation is not a pro-life concept." Were the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center buildings pro-life?

As far as claiming the labels "pro-life" and "pro-family" for her own crowd, Mrs. Budde has neglected the fact that there is a country on the other side of the border just as responsible for the separation of families and the potentiality of its people's starvation. Mrs. Budde neglects to see that there is a choice of either running to our country or fighting for life in their own. She has shown neither the pro-family or especially not the pro-life side of immigration reform.

The answer as to the morality of Mrs. Budde's opening question still remains: "Why would the Catholic Church be in support of law-breakers?" She doesn't answer it but instead tells us the sad story. Catholic philosophical thought supports the man who must steal bread to feed his starving family- if he has no other lawful alternative. Is there an alternative? Yes, Mexican reform for their own people. Can the Church support the breaking of immigration laws? St. Thomas Aquinas has said that it is okay to break the laws which are really "unlawful." Is the United States' position on immigration unlawful? By no means. It is designed to protect it's own citizens. Is this in some way not pro-life or pro-family? No, on the contrary it is pro-family and pro-life. I wish Mrs. Budde could see her own countrymen, she probably could if her nose wasn't so high.


ali said...

As a Mexican I can say that you are right when you say that the true solution to this problem lies in the Mexican side...

But the problem is that Mexico is supposedly a democracy but in truth the rampant corruption and power battles leave the citizens with no ability to change policy.

The U.S. has all the right to regulate immigration, but my only concern is what happens to the people who are already here? Did they break the law? yes. But the punishment should be proportional to the gravity of the violation.

When a person is deported they are incarcerated and then taken to the border and dropped there. They lose all their savings, their house, their job. They are separated from families, friend, communities and jobs, with no opportunity of appeal. Most of them have not hurt society, to the contrary they have provided work force, taxes and many encourage education for the next generation.

It seems to me that the punishments is extraordinarily disproportionate to the violation.

aggiecatholic said...

In Germany, if you are driving down a country road and you hit a farmer's chicken you aren't responsible for just the chicken you hit. You are responsible for the cost of the chicken as well as all of the eggs and chicks it would (potentially) have had on to the third generation of chicks and there eggs. The reason I mention this is because you say that the penalty should be in proportion to the crime. How many jobs are being held by illegal immigrants in America that could be held by legal immigrants or natural citizens? If the penalty is proportional to the crime shouldn't the illegal immigrant be held responsible for the money which would potentially have been paid to another worker? What if that pay might have been saved and helped a child go to college? Instead that child may have settled for a lower paying job, is the immigrant being held accountable for that loss? And if the person who didn't get the job because it was cheaper to hire an illegal immigrant had to go on welfare or unemployment because they didn't have a job should the illegal immigrant be held responsible for that as well?

We never seem to tell the story from both sides. The illegal immigrants in this country know the penalty for being caught, yet they take that chance. I'd say its the least we can do to take them back to their own country and not hold them accountable for having potentially held a job which may have been held by a citizen or legal immigrant. It goes both ways. Had the illegal immigrant not immigrated illegally, would they be risking the job they got illegally or the savings they collected illegally? No, and they could have pride in the fact that they got what they have by the rules.

Is it really punishment at all to take them to their own country? We aren't torturing them. Is Mexico that bad? I have a friend who left the United States to go to Mexico and find a job because he liked it better there. Whom is being punished?

So, Mexico is a county that is supposedly a democracy but is rampant with corruption. I won't doubt this could be the case. However, when the United States was formed it wasn't all peaches and cream. It was quite a difficult process to form America into what it is today, and I don't think thousands of people were fleeing the country because it was better in Europe. They stayed and they made the country what it is. We had a saying that we used all the time in the army "Freedom isn't free." Its true, and democracy doesn't come easy. But if its worth everything we think it is, why not fight for it instead of steal it.

Anonymous said...

During the 1980s my Catholic Church became very political. Unlike some dominations traditionally Catholic churches were not very political (except on the issue of abortion) but during the 1980s left wing politics inserted itself unfortunately into the local Catholic church through the very liberal Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen . Things would turn up regularly in the church bulletin such as notices about anti-nuclear protests at Bangor Navy Base or protests against Reagan’s Central American policy, or other left wing causes. It got pretty bad at times and it was one of the reasons I personally left the church.

Well, while I left the church, many in my family didn’t and I have had the opportunity to frequently look at the church bulletin, and during the 1990s and the early part of this decade, the inappropriate notices in the bulletin slowed down and then for the most part stopped. The bulletin became the non-political forum for church information that it was always supposed to be. But still what went on in the 1980s left a bad taste in my mouth (and of course the Priests scandals which our church was in the center of long, long before it became a big issue nationally). But, again, after the turmoil of the Hunthausen days, things had really improved and the weekly bulletin hasn’t in recent years been used as the tool of the Left Wing radicals as it once was.

But it seems that this is not the case again. This Sunday in the weekly bulletin in my church was a yellow piece of paper promoting the radical leftist agenda on immigration. It was by a group that has the following webpage:

The yellow insert states that Catholics must pray the following:

The Justice Prayer

Come, O Holy Spirit!

Come, open us to the wonder, beauty and dignity of the diversity found in each culture,

in each face, and in each experience we have of the other among us.

Come, fill us with generosity

as we are challenged to let go and allow others to share with us

the goods and beauty of earth.

Come, heal the divisions

That keep us from seeing the face of Christ in all men, women, and children.

Come, free us to stand with and for those

who must leave their own lands in order to find work, security, and welcome in a new land,
one that has enough to share.

Come, bring us understanding, inspiration, wisdom, and

the courage needed to embrace change and stay on the journey.

Come, O Holy Spirit,

show us the way.

Well, what you need to understand about Catholics is that most of them don’t go to church for political reasons. The Parish they choose, most often they choose merely because it’s the parish closest to them. For them religion is a matter of tradition; it’s not a matter of politics. They go to church to form a spiritual community, not to promote a political agenda.

I know Catholics and I know that like the general community most of them are totally against the radical agenda of the political left. But given the social and spiritual importance Catholicism is to them, they are intimidated (most of them) from speaking out for fear of the social repercussions. It is easier for them to remain silent and just look the other way to what is going on in their name, in their midst. Most people (liberals excluded) strive to live a life as much as possible without conflict and in most cases tend to remain silent and not make waves and rock the boat.

Liberals on the other hand live for conflict and due to that they seem to have an advantage when it comes to promoting their agenda. They are obviously using the Church in an inappropriate way, but they are not being called on it.

But those of Catholic persuasion need to speak out against the renewed radicalization of the local Church. Modern day catholic teaching doesn’t say that the Church is infallible on such issues, and when the church is being used by a radical few (yeah many of them in high places) to do something that will harm America, they practically have a duty to speak out despite the friction and division that would cause. After all they weren’t the ones who started the friction, they weren’t the ones who inappropriately hijacked the church to be used as a tool to promote a political agenda.

On this issue the Catholic Church has become a destructive force. Let’s hope that average Catholics get beyond being timid and take the church back from the radicals. They finally wrestled it away from the Leftists who had such a hold of it in the 1980s. It is critical that they do so now.

aggiecatholic said...

I was at a parish in Conroe, TX over the weekend and saw that justice prayer. I just rolled my eyes when during the announcements the priest said everyone should take one copy home to pray as a family. I can think of better prayers to say as a family.