Monday, May 10, 2010

The Catholic Connection

As previously noted, Jewish organizations are strongly supportive of open borders and massive legal/illegal immigration to the US. But Jews are hardly alone in their enthusiasm over mass immigration. Most American Catholic bishops and Catholic organizations have also taken up the cause of increased immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens. Since the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants are from Catholic countries like Mexico, the Catholic Church has an obvious self-interest in seeing that these illegal aliens are ultimately granted legal residency and even citizenship in the US (a far more obvious self-interest than Jews would seem to have).

The Catholic Church's position (and its negation of America's national interests) is nicely summed up by Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, in a recent interview with Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic publication. Bishop Wester first explains that the Catholic bishops strongly support the concept of national sovereignty and border control, and then proceeds to eviscerate both concepts into oblivion when it comes to actual immigration.

In the case of immigration, the U.S. bishops believe that the broken U.S. immigration system contributes to the exploitation of migrant workers in the workplace; their abuse by ruthless smugglers; and their deaths in the desert as they seek to find work to support their families. They come illegally because there are insufficient visas under the current system to come legally. Our system contains only 5,000 permanent visas for unskilled laborers to come to the United States, but the demand for their work is much higher, since as many as 300,000 undocumented people each year are absorbed into the U.S. workforce.

Note how Bishop Wester explicitly blames the US for illegal immigrants breaking US law. According to the bishop, illegal aliens are forced to break American law because the US doesn't grant enough visas to accomodate them all. Consider the implications of this statement. Under the bishops' view, the desire of illegal immigrants to come to the US trumps the right of the US government to decide how many immigrants it wishes to take in. If the number of visas offered is fewer than the number of immigrants desiring to enter the US, then the illegal immigrants are forced to break the law, which is unjust because it does not correspond to the illegal immigrants' desires. How exactly does this position do anything but negate the right of the US to maintain its territorial integrity and sovereignty? This is the equivalent of arguing that if I ask my neighbor for a $5,000 loan and he offers me only $1000, I then have the right to steal $4,000 from him because he didn't meet my needs and desires. Contrary to the bishops' assertion no one has a right to immigrate to the US.

Note that Bishop Wester also displays a fascinating view of economics. The US current has an official unemployment rate of almost ten percent (unofficial estimates are substantially higher). If millions of legal Americans currently can't find work, what would be the effect of adding millions of additional potential workers, skilled or unskilled? The effect would be exactly what has already happened: wages for less skilled workers would fall precipitously, since the pool of available workers would be substantially larger than the number of jobs available. Employers would be able to offer lower wages since the larger number of workers would supply a ready supply of people willing to work for almost anything. But in the current economic mess, this translates into more people seeking various forms of state aid - a position that would be disastrous for many states already teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

So the admission of more legal immigrants is likely to undercut the economic position of native born Americans and recent legal immigrants (especially unskilled workers, but also those with mid-range skills, whose jobs are being outsourced or given to workers imported from south Asia). How exactly is this in keeping with Catholic social justice theory - unless the real meaning of that theory is to make everyone equally poor.

Bishop Wester also helpfully explains what the Catholic bishops would like to see, vis-a-vis, US immigration law:

Comprehensive immigration reform, which the U.S. bishops support, would replace illegality with a system based on legal presence and legal entry, thus restoring the rule of law to a chaotic system while also protecting the basic dignity, and lives, of our fellow brothers and sisters. It would require those who have broken the law to get on the right side of it by paying a fine, taxes, learning English and waiting in the back of a long line to have a chance to become a U.S. citizen. This “path to citizenship” is in the best interests of migrants, who are able to become full members of their communities, and our nation, which will continue to benefit from their contributions without sacrificing our long-held values as a nation of immigrants: freedom, fairness and opportunity.

In short, amnesty. This would grant legal status to millions of Latinos, most of whom just happen to be Catholic. Imagine that. And what if those millions don't want to learn English, or pay a fine, or stop flooding over the border? Well, having already surrendered the idea that the US has the inherent right to make and enforce its laws, one can easily see how those minor provisions could be later argued away too. I mean, if the illegal immigrants have a right to break US immigration laws they don't like, why wouldn't they have the same right to break laws regarding fines, learning English and paying back taxes too. If amnesty is granted, it will only be a short time before Bishop Wester and his ilk are arguing that the terms of amnesty were too onerous and that, in the name of "freedom, fairnes and opportunity, we should waive the fines, back taxes and accept Spanish as the new national language.