Saturday, September 26, 2009

On Immigration

I'VE LATELY BEEN thinking about social justice, the phrase and concept discovered by the Jesuit theologian Luigi Taparelli from his study of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and developed into moral doctrine by Taparelli's pupil, Pope Leo XIII, who based his encyclical Rerum Novarum on these principles.

Consider the problem of immigration reform in the United States. There are two opposing hard-line positions:
  • Borders must be tightly controlled; and, immigrants get no rights given to citizens.
  • Borders must be open; and, immigrants get all rights of citizenship.
But what we have is a supposedly moderate policy, where our borders are porous while illegal immigrants — and even many legal ones — live in constant fear of deportation, and are afforded few rights that any citizen would normally enjoy.

Our current situation is rather convenient for some: this ensures cheap labor which can be threatened into submission; and also a ready-made oppressed class who can be exploited for radical political action.

So what could an immigration policy based on Catholic social teaching look like? Perhaps:
  • Borders and immigration are tightly controlled.
  • Immigrants are treated generously, and can obtain full citizenship fairly quickly and easily.
To me, these seem to be policies of both a well-ordered, and a charitable culture, whereas our current system shows signs of both chaos and hate, which are decidedly non-Christian.


  1. Seems reasonable. A visit to Immaculate Conception Church at Roma, Texas might provide a tutorial on the concept of the tightly controlled border.

  2. truthfinder,

    Run for office? No way!


    As to who is allowed into the country, and in what numbers, that is a prudential judgement with lots of various opinions. Honesty among those who make and enforce the immigration laws would be appreciated.

  3. As noted, a visit to that particular lovely historic little church is quite an experience, as those various opinions suddenly snap in to focus.

    If one is Catholic, there is also an overwhelming sense of gratitude to all who have gone before us on that complicated journey.