Morality Reflections-Immigration

An issue discussed by O’Neil and Black in chapter 11 is immigration. I feel I have a particular stake in the discussion, given that I only became an American citizen not too long ago, after many years of living as a resident alien, and I have several friends and acquaintances who live in the country deemed by the law as illegals. Many people are of the opinion that we should deport all illegal aliens, based on the fact that they are criminals by definition, by being here illegally. People justify this stance by making the generalization that most people are felons, or that they are illiterate, or that they all place a burden on the resources of our country. Some others invoke the right of the nation to protect itself and use terrorism as an excuse to shut down the borders altogether. The first thing to keep in mind when dealing with moral issues is the right balance. Neither building a wall to close the whole border nor granting entrance to every single person seeking it is the right answer. O’Neil and Black speak of it as a balance between the needs of the immigrants with the legitimate needs of the citizens of the country (pp. 277-278). In order to arrive to a morally good position and in order to combat the ethnocentrism and racism present in some advocates of strict immigration restrictions, we begin first by establishing that all people have equal dignity. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, quoting Gaudium and Spes states that: “Since something of the glory of God shines in every person , the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of man before other man”, it continues “moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class” (p. 145). The USCCB’s document “Strangers No More: Together on the Journey of Hope” offers further guidelines for consideration in fairly resolving this issue: global anti-poverty efforts that will allow for jobs to be developed in immigrant’s native countries; paths for legalization that will help immigrants be reunited with families and achieve citizenship; and restoration of due process. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls for a welcoming mentality: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him” 2241. The Compendium summarized the Church’s view in calling for fair immigration policies: “Regulating immigration according to criteria of equity and balance is one of the indispensable conditions for ensuring that immigrants are integrated into society with the guarantees required by recognition of their human dignity” (298). Solving this issue will be solved only through conversion so that we see the presence of God in all peoples and recognize that one cannot say “I love God and hate his neighbor.”

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