Friday, October 1, 2010

Opposing the Illegals = "Fear of Foreigners"? (Mrs. Don-o Dialogs With Bishop Stika on Immigration)

From Mrs. Don-o:

The link is to East Tennessee Catholic, and the article I'm responding to is "Triptych of Love," by Richard Stika, Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville. (When you use the link, you'll have to go to page 3; I don't know how to link there directly.)

The first half of Bishop Stika's article does a fine job of pointing out that the Biblical teaching of God's concern for "the widow, the orphan, and the stranger" can be applied in our day to the unmarried mother, the unborn child, and the immigrant. This much, I think, is true, accurate, and pastorally sensitive.

He runs into difficulties when he touts remittances, the transfer of funds from foreign workers in the US to their families back in Mexico and other home countries, as one of the positives of the present immigration situation.

"These remittances, collectively, represent the largest and most effective poverty-reduction program inthe world. When we attack the migrant, we increase poverty and take food from the hungry."

Coming to the US without authorization is against the law; working here with a fake Social Security number is fraud; and yet Bishop Stika portrays cashing on millionfold lawbreaking and fraud as if it were a good thing.

And he runs into worse difficulties in his very next paragraph, in which he characterizes those opposed to this fraud as being moved by base motivations:

"But we are growing more fearful as a people and a society. When that hap[pens, as history demonstrates, the weakest and most vulnerable in a society are attacked. The slogans are familiar: fear of overpopulation, fear of lost autonomy, fear of the foreigner."

Good as Bishop Stika's intentions may be --- and I am convinced that they are the best --- good intentions do not justify bad programs.

My letter follows.
Dear Bishop Stika,

I was proud to see the reports in East Tennesseee Catholic about your welcome pastoral activities with our Hispanic community, and especially with the farm workers in Unicoi. And I admired your reflections on the Triptych of Love. Yes, “the widow, the orphan and the stranger” are the objects of God’s special concern, as we are taught by the Prophets, and by Jesus Christ Himself. Your recognition of this triad in the husbandless mother, the unborn child, and the vulnerable immigrant is a valuable insight.

It seems to me, though, that in some respects you may have oversimplified your presentation in a way that is inadvertently inaccurate and unfair.

The complex controversy about the status of those who enter this country unlawfully is difficult in part because many of these illegal millions are simultaneously perpetrators as well as victims of injustice.

This was made clear by the testimony of Dr. Carol Swain, a VanderbiltUniversity professor of law and political science, who spoke in Washington, DC on Sept. 24 at the House panel on immigration just before Stephen Colbert (but didn’t get nearly the attention Colbert got). She made a quietly stunning case that it is the steady flow of cheap migrant labor which destroys job opportunities and depresses wages for poor blacks and other American minorities.

This is a legitimate argument against the acceptance of massive immigration. It stems from concern for a vast group of sufferers whose interests are rarely considered: the millions of poor Americans --- and particularly young, unskilled minority males --- who are substantially, and in some cases permanently, robbed of any prospect of gainful employment because they have been displaced by an invasion of foreign nationals.

That’s why I must ask you to resist reducing this controversy to racism or xenophobia. I hope you did not intend to imply, in your “Triptych” article, that the

present immigration controversy is attributable to the unreasonable fears and resentments of Americans in a difficult time.

I have read a number of statements of Christian activists advocating such things as:
*comprehensive immigration reform as proposed by President Obama and his legislative allies

* the wider availability of schooling, health insurance, public housing, food stamps and other incentives and subsidies for unlawful residents and recipients

* the DREAM Act, and other proposed paths to U.S. citizenship for some of the 11- 13 million people who are in this country illegally.
These advocates, while well-meaning, too often make a wrong-headed assumption: that those who favor the above measures care about justice and compassion, and those who oppose them, do not.

Many, like myself, would contend that all of the above proposals are injurious to vulnerable communities, legitimate immigrants, minorities and the poor. We have reasonable evidence for this judgment; and it is unjust to suggest that our arguments are without foundation or that they originate in fear or bigotry.

I appreciate the fact you’re trying to address the main issues in a clear, brief, and Christian way. (And I know how difficult that can be!)

I am putting a book in the mail to you, “On the Immorality of Illegal Immigration” by Fr. Patrick Bascio, C.S.Sp. Fr. Bascio, a life-long advocate for social justice, has worked in poor communities in the U.S., Tanzania, and the Caribbean islands. Fr.Bascio also has a PhD in Systematic Theology from FordhamUniversity, with an emphasis on the Morality of Economic and Political Systems.

I hope this will provide a valuable perspective.

Sincerely in Christ,


1 posted on Friday, October 01, 2010 3:49:35 PM by Mrs. Don-o 

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