Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, wrote a letter to members of Congress on March 15, in order to express the bishops’ support for two pieces of legislation relative to immigration: the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. He also urged the legislators “to work toward a larger, more comprehensive legislative reform of our immigration laws,” and pledged the support of the USCCB in that regard. The current crisis at the southern border of our country makes that reform both essential and urgent.
From a Catholic perspective, nations like ours have a moral obligation to welcome at least some immigrants. As the Catechism says, “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.” (CCC 2241) This is basic Christian charity. The Catechism goes on to say that those who are welcomed into another country should receive respect, appropriate help and legal protection. That idea, along with every other principle of Catholic moral teaching, is rooted in the notion that every human being has a fundamental, God-given dignity, since every human being is made in the Lord’s image and likeness.
From a Catholic perspective, true immigration reform is a “two-way street.” This, unfortunately, is a crucial point which is often left out or ignored in public discussions of the issue. As the Catechism tells us, “Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” (CCC 2241)
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin recently offered his thoughts on how immigrants are now caught in the middle of this two-way street, one that is cracked and flawed and needs to be repaired as soon as possible.
“The immigrants, families and children, coming to our country, are pawns in a partisan chess game,” he said. “They are victims of a broken system. We need to fix this systemic problem. In this Passiontide, pray for immigrants and refugees.”