The ongoing furor over illegal immigration has reached a higher pitch lately with the murder of Kate Steinle earlier this month by an illegal alien who’d already been deported five times and returned yet again. There are strong opinions all around. Junto members are well acquainted with Church teaching about immigration but it bears repeating CCC 2241:
“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner… Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions…”
Catholics might disagree under what circumstances our obligation to welcome foreigners is superseded by the state’s right to protect the common good. The Government Accounting Office’s 2011 report on Criminal Alien Statistics does indeed contain some sobering numbers. The vast majority of criminal aliens come from Mexico and other countries south of the border. In the last four years covered in the report about half of the deportees, on average, returned to the U.S. Ten percent of criminal aliens had more than 25 offenses.
“About 50 percent of the criminal aliens in our study population were arrested at least once for either assault, homicide, robbery, a sex offense, or kidnapping. About half of the criminal aliens were arrested at least once for a drug violation.”
But legality aside, in the last few days I’ve recalled an interview on Catholic Answers Radio from back in 2012 in which Catholic speaker Jesse Romero brought up an aspect of immigration (especially illegal) that I hadn’t thought of, but which has troubled me ever since: men who come to the U.S. with the intention of sending money back home and eventually finding a better life along with their families; but who get here and essentially establish a new life and abandon their wife, their kids and their Catholic faith. Women are left behind to raise fatherless children who are more prone to gang influences. Men who feel guilty about their actions are drawn away from a Church and to more lenient Protestant denominations. Although I haven’t readily found statistics on this phenomenon, the logic of it rings true to me and I believe those Catholic families risk being destroyed. And I haven’t even discussed the exploitation by human smugglers.
At the very least the fate of family life in Mexico and the other countries of origin needs to be included regularly in the debate about U.S. immigration, illegal and otherwise. I don’t hear about this very often from our church leaders. As a middle class American it’s easy for me to say this but I believe it: a poor intact family lives a more virtuous life than one separated and under the constant temptation of abandonment.
Uncontrolled immigration is hurting our country as well as good migrant families simply seeking a better life.