Skip to comments.Life and Dignity, Persecution and Hope (pro-"migrant" piece with HOT rejoinder by Mrs. Don-o)
Posted on 05/03/2010 3:31:46 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
A brief walk through one countrys history reveals why people migrate.
In the turbulent early years of the 20th century the Catholic Church seemed to face persecution almost worldwide. In his book on the 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church, Triumph (Forum, 2001), H. W. Crocker III writes of one particular country that in 1917 became the first explicitly socialist, anti-religious, and constitutional revolutionary republic in the world (p. 395). In the two decades that would follow, the Catholic Church in this country would witness all its property confiscated and nationalized and more than 40,000 Catholics killed and martyred, including 90 priests (equivalent to two-thirds of the Catholic population of East Tennessee and all of its priests and deacons).
Three papal encyclicals would be written between 1926 and 1937 concerning the dire situation in a country where 4,500 priests once servedbut by 1935, according to some reports, fewer than 340 would remain to minister to a much persecuted and suffering Catholic population. At the turn of the millennium Pope John Paul II canonized 25 of this nations saints and martyrs from this period.
You may be surprised to learn that the country in question is not the Soviet Union but Mexico, and included in the list of those martyred were 70 Knights of Columbus, eight of whom have since been declared saints. Pope Pius XI would include Mexico with the Soviet Union and Spain in describing the terrible triangle of terror afflicting the Church at this time in history. But the blood of martyrs is never shed in vain, and much was shed in Mexico.
As one would expect, as a result of persecutions and the resulting civil war (1926-1929), large numbers of Mexicans were uprooted and fled from the terror. Up to one-quarter million people were internally displaced in the 1920s, with an additional half million people emigrating to the United States, sharing in the tragic mystery of the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt in order to escape Herods murderous rampage. Although by mid-century the persecution eventually gave way to a reluctant but nonetheless still harsh tolerance of religion, it was not until 1992 that many anti-Catholic restrictions were officially lifted.
With the advent of World War II, the United States turned to Mexico to help fill its vast labor shortages in industry and farming. In the decades that followed, the demand for foreign laborers only increased, especially for temporary and seasonal workers in the Southeast and Southwest. As a result of the economic crisis in Mexico of the 1980s the number of its people living in poverty increased dramatically.
As poverty and migration are so often intimately linked, many people are surprised to learn that one of the largest and most efficient programs for directly reducing global poverty levels is not a specific kind of aid program or global charitable effort but the result of remittancesmoney that foreign workers send back to their families. According to a 2007 World Bank study, remittances represented almost $170 billion in external financing for needy countries in 2005, a figure that today is likely well in excess of $200 billion.
The reasons for migration are complicated, as a snapshot of Mexicos past century proves, but solutions are even more complex. Comprehensive immigration reform is as much about fixing a broken immigration system as it is about addressing the push factors behind migrationand none of these will be easy to address.
When it is difficult to be the face of Jesus to others, it is often because we first fail to see Jesus in the other person. Perhaps this is why God especially hears the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (Exodus 20:20-22) and reminds us to be particularly mindful of their needs.
The widows and orphans of our time are the unborn and the despairing pregnant women whose boyfriends or husbands have abandoned their responsibilities to them. But let us not forget the third figure of this scriptural mandate, in whose history we share. For we too sojourn as foreigners in this lifes pilgrim journey and struggle to learn the one language that is most essential to learn: the language of faith.
Ending with my traditional play upon the words of Pope Paul VI, If you want peace, care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.
Mr. Simoneau directs the Knoxville Diocesan Justice and Peace Office.
Please be sure to read Mrs. Don-o's comments at #1.
Sec. 1: Mexican Catholics suffered extreme persecution in the early 20th century
Comment: This is an appalling record of suffering and martyrdom, little-known to most Americans. It motivated the immigration of many Mexicans to the United States in the first third of the 20th century. It would have been unreasonable to delay or impede these refugees flight to safety in the face of this emergency. And in fact, their way was not barred: many hundreds of thousands settled in the US in the 1920s and 30s; their descendants were, for the most part, born here; and all of them are U.S. citizens. They are not among todays illegals, and few of us, if any, as Catholics or as Americans, begrudge their presence here.
Moreover, the 20th century saw many government crimes against persons, leading to many millions of emergency refugees seeking safety, with source countries other than Mexico and host countries other than the US. A globe tracing the lines of these war-and-persecution related displacements of populations would look like a yarn ball completely covered by the criss-crossing strands of suffering.
Is it a reasonable inference, then, that all countries of the world should suspend enforcement of all their borders and welcome all comers?
Or should we rather conclude that the priority for immigration should be much more carefully and selectively given to those who are fleeting from murder, from Herod?
I would say the latter.
Sec. 2: Poverty in Mexico, and demand for low-wage laborers in the U.S., spurred recent Mexico-to-U.S. migration. Remittances from family members in the U.S. have provided much aid to those still in Mexico.
Comment: Also meriting some mention could be these perspectives:
U.S. unemployment rate for blacks projected to hit 25-year high
(Washington Post, Jan 15, 2010)
National black unemployment rate soars to 17.2 percent, rates in five states exceeding 20 percent the unemployment gap between men and women has reached a record high -- with men far outpacing women in joblessness.
The dead end kids
(The New York Post, By RICHARD WILNER)
The number of young Americans without a job has exploded to 53.4 percent a post-World War II high, according to the Labor Dept. meaning millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished and their transition into productive members of society put on hold for an extended period of time "
The costs of the influx of foreign labor are largely borne by young black males, many of whom, reduced to permanent joblessness and degrading dependency, cannot even imagine attaining the status of adult working men supporting wives and families.
Sec. 3: Gods Priorities
God especially hears the cry of the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (Exodus 20:20-22) and reminds us to be particularly mindful of their needs.
This is an exceedingly good point, and yet it may not yield the policy recommendations that many may suppose. Our concern for the widow and orphan may also strongly argue against facilitating the immigration of Mexican and Central American men into the U.S., since it so often breaks up families back home, leaving the wife in Mexico a widow and the children in Mexico orphans, ---yes, with the support of a remittance check, but thats often a temporary consolation, since so many Mexican men eventually find new partners and form new families in the U.S., leaving their Mexican families truly abandoned.
Labor statistics also show that Hispanic Americans who were born here or who immigrated legally, are, like black people, disproportionately beaten down by illegal immigration. They, too, suffer, catastrophically high unemployment and low wages, undercut year after year by incoming waves of illegals who under-bid them for the lowest-paying jobs in America.
I bow my head to your Exodus quote on the "widows, orphans and foreigners," and give you an Isaiah 58:7
This, rather, is the fast that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
The part about "sharing your bread and clothing the naked" has to do with our religous duty as the People of God to respond to the person we see in need "on the road" --- our response as individual believers and as the Church, impelled by grace and motivated by the Love of God.
It does not imply access to the resources of the Governor of Roman Judea or entitlement to benefits from the U.S. Treasury, whose funding is compulsory via taxation. Such entitlements have little to do with grace or love, and everything to do with rewarding people who have disrespected our laws and violated our boundaries with the expectation of being able to game the system.
And this brings us to one more issue from a Catholic point of view: the scandal of lawlessness.
Most people from Mexico and Central America who enter this country illegally, do so, even from the outset, by becoming enmeshed in a web of criminal conspiracy, either as cooperators or as victims, and usually both.
They pay international criminal traffickers to guide them across into the U.S. On the way, since theyve put themselves into the hands of truly vicious men, theyre often sexually exploited or raped or robbed or beaten. Perhaps they arrive in debt to the coyote, who then makes them an offer they cant refuse: you can become a mule and transport drugs, weapons and other contraband; or you can be a prostitute and work the customers until your debt is paid. Or you could end up in a ditch with a bullet in your head. Your choice, amigo.
Then the illegals turn to the professional crooks, often acting in concert with systematically corrupted U.S. officials, to get fraudulent papers, because none of them are truly undocumented for long. They engage in the necessary forgery, fraud, and identity theft. "Honest and young and just looking for a job" --- as some, or many, may have been in the beginning --- they are drawn deeper and deeper into moral disintegration.
From the point of view of the one essential thing--- the persons soul --- what is the real cost? Multiply lying and fraud: initially under duress, at first with shame, then for advantage, then habitually, then cynically, then callously, then --- you have a subculture corrupted from top to bottom, from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico to the Democratic and Republican National Committees in Washington, DC, down to Chico from Michoacan with a little bag of cocaine sewn into his backpack, and the youngest whore on the streets of Phoenix.
Multiply this by a million. Call it a Structure of Injustice. Please. Call it Institutionalized Violence. But dont call it America Welcomes the Immigrant and the Stranger because this is not Americas heritage as a Nation under Law and this is not Gods commandment.
Didnt we learn, when we were young, that this is the way of sin?
And didnt we learn that there are deadly ways in which we participate in the sins of others? We contribute to the death of souls
It makes me sick that there are Catholic bishops of the United States, already reeling under the cumulative impact of not enforcing the laws against sexually predatory clerics (yes, I know its complicated, but there it is in one sentence) who are now bringing more shame and pain upon us by again justifying the non-enforcement of law against this huge engine of injustice known as Illegal Immigration.
Cardinal Mahony says that the people who want to enforce the law in Arizona are comparable to Nazis and Communists. And heres Archbishop Jose Gomez line: he says that people who favor lawful borders, and turning back felons, forgers and frauds, are akin to Julian the Apostate. I myself believe we must require honest lawful conduct by people who come to our country: so, I suppose, that makes me pretty damned bad.
(The linked article is by John Zmirak, re Archishop Gomez remarks. I urge you to read this.)
And I offer you this from Proverbs 28:9
Mr. Simoneau, let me be fair: Im not under the impression that you endorsed Mahonys and Gomez profoundly wrong-headed point of view. You did not call me a Nazi or an Apostate. Nor did you say that this Open Borders perspective --- this enabling of human trafficking, this offering of incentives for those who game the system, this legalizing of lawbreakers --- is the Way of the Saints.
With sincere respect for you --- and trusting you to generously see past my own flaws and faults of thought and expression --- I would truly value your response to this.
Please don't bash the Church per se, whose doctrines on this subject are at once moral, practical, and persuasive. My gripe is against clerics who drape their prudential opinions with episcopal brocade but ignore some of the key requirements of Catholic Social Doctrine. For instance, this from Para 2241, Catechism of the Catholic Church:
"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, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. 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."
Very well stated.
Nowadays, it seems nobody expects *himself* “to assist in carrying civic burdens” ... all the burdens are to be dumped on someone else.
Thank you for this useful piece of verbiage. LAWFUL IMMIGRATION FOR ALL, LAWLESS IMMIGRATION FOR NOT ONE!
Bravo-o! Great post, Mrs. Don-o.
EXCELLENT commentary! Thanks so much for sharing it - and the ping as well...
thanks for that , IO will change it a bit but it has been very helpful
Or that they'll print it?
Very, very well argued indeed.
Excellent write Mrs.D, and I learned some things I didn’t know! Thanks for pinging.
Please remove me from your post list. I AM NOT CATHOLIC.
Using an old Mrs Don-o list. This is the best thinking about the matter of illegal immigration that I have seen - anywhere.
Only half kidding. That would be a heck of a winning jury argument!
Yes, this is just outstanding. Brava, Mrs. D!
Your comments are awesome!
I will apply them in my own arguements.
I am not Catholic as well. Please remove me from your ping list. Thank you in advance.
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