A demonstration in support of the DACA program took place in front of the White House on Aug. 15. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)A demonstration in support of the DACA program took place in front of the White House on Aug. 15. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami has a question for President Trump: If Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is deserving of leniency after he broke the law, why not extend the same mercy to immigrants living in the United States illegally?

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” the archbishop told America during an Aug. 29 interview. He noted that opponents of extending amnesty-like programs to the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States often point out that they broke the law by entering the country and therefore should be treated as criminals.

Archbishop Wenski asked, “If Arpaio can be pardoned, why can’t the irregular immigrants be pardoned?”

The White House announced on Aug. 25 that the president had decided to pardon Mr. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who shot to national fame by aggressively targeting immigrants living in the United States illegally. In 2011, a federal judge ordered Mr. Arpaio to stop traffic patrols in which people were detained solely on suspicion of their immigration status and turned over to immigration authorities. The court later found that Mr. Arpaio’s office continued to systematically profile Latinos and recommended a criminal charge for prolonging the patrols 17 months after the sheriff had been ordered to stop them. Mr. Arpaio was convicted last month of criminal contempt of court for defying the order.

Archbishop Wenski is not alone in questioning the pardon. Cardinal Roger Mahony, the former archbishop of Los Angeles, wrote he is “troubled and disgusted” by the decision.

Mr. Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Arpaio was announced in the midst of a debate inside the White House about the fate of an Obama-era program that allows about 800,000 undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children, popularly known as Dreamers, to work here legally.

The Obama-era program allows about 800,000 undocumented individuals brought to the United States as children to work here legally,

Advocates on both sides of the issue are bracing for the possibility that the president will halt the issuance of new work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, a move that would effectively phase out a program that gave hundreds of thousands of young people a reprieve from deportation and the ability to work legally in the United States.

Catholic leaders have expressed alarm at the possibility that the White House may bow to pressure from 10 state attorneys general who are threatening to sue the administration over the legality of the program if the president does not change the rules by Sept. 5. They contend that the program, created by an executive order from President Barack Obama, is unlawful and that Congress must regulate immigration. Twenty other attorneys general have urged Mr. Trump to keep the program intact.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump promised to overturn Mr. Obama’s immigration policies, including DACA. But following his election victory, his stance appeared to have softened. In December, he told Time magazine that Dreamers were “brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here.”

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” he said.

In February, he said, “The DACA situation is a very difficult thing for me, as I love these kids, I love kids.” Then in June, the administration announced that it would continue issuing work permits under DACA. But the threat of a messy lawsuit could change his thinking.

Archbishop Wenski said he hopes that President Trump will keep his promise to keep people happy—by keeping DACA in place.

“I’m still waiting for him to deliver on his promise that the Dreamers would be happy with whatever he was going to propose for them, that he was going to do right by the Dreamers,” the archbishop said, referring to the nickname given to those brought to the United States illegally as minors. “I think that if he does follow through on that, then we’re in a better position.”

Bishop Wenski: "I’m still waiting for [President Trump] to deliver on his promise that the Dreamers would be happy with whatever he was going to propose for them."

But, he cautioned, Catholic leaders must continue to pressure Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Without legislative action, he said, the undocumented “have work permits, they can work, they can study, but there’s a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads because it’s not a permanent solution, and that has to come from Congress.”

Archbishop Wenski, who visited Guatemala over the weekend and who heads to Haiti for another pastoral visit this week, said that both congressional Democrats and Republicans appear unwilling to move on immigration reform, with each side using it as a wedge issue to raise money.

“And so, the immigrants continue to live in fear,” he said. “The refugees continue to languish in refugee camps, and Congress, by doing nothing, keeps alive an issue that they can bring out every once in awhile for the sake of energizing their base.”

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has also called on congressional leaders to move on immigration reform. “Sadly, there is not enough trust left in Washington—not enough will to overcome partisan suspicions—for our leaders to enact comprehensive immigration reform,” he wrote in an Aug. 29 column published in Angelus News. “So, we need to go piece by piece. We may need to move slowly. But it is long past time to begin doing something constructive.”

Bishop Gomez: “Sadly, there is not enough trust left in Washington—not enough will to overcome partisan suspicions—for our leaders to enact comprehensive immigration reform."

The immigration debate goes beyond the status of Dreamers. Archbishop Wenski, for example, welcomed Vice President Mike Pence and other political leaders to Florida earlier this month to discuss continued unrest in Venezuela. The archbishop said he did not have a chance to talk about substantial items with Mr. Pence, but he said he pressed Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who has in the past championed immigration reform, on both DACA and other immigration programs under threat from the White House.

One program allows about 58,000 Haitians living in the United States, who were here when an earthquake struck the country in 2010, to remain here legally as the country continues clean up efforts. The Trump administration isconsidering ending the program in January.

The archbishop acknowledged that the program was meant to be temporary but said, “we have to look at the reality and say after a certain amount of time, some kind of mechanism should be developed to allow these people to adjust to a more permanent status in the United States.”

The debate over immigration prompted more than 1,300 Catholics who work in education tosign a letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly sent earlier this week. They appealed to his Catholic faith and urged him “to be an influential champion for the children and youth who are the next generation of American leaders.”

“We ask that you protect the dignity of our nation’s immigrant youth by advocating for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program until Congress passes the Dream Act,” the letter continues. Close to 100 Jesuits signed the letter, including the presidents of Fordham University, Creighton University and several Jesuit high schools.

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, meanwhile said Catholics should be angry at policies that harm immigrants and “should have the courage to speak out to people against their politically motivated assaults against the innocent.”

“Christians are fundamentally loving, giving people, just as Jesus was,” Bishop Seitz said during an Aug. 29 media conference call organized by Faith in Public Life. “But there were some things that angered Jesus, and they should anger us as well.” He compared the attorneys general threatening a lawsuit to “the big bully on the playground.”

Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, said about 100 Dreamers attend her school.

“They are some of the best students we have had at Trinity,” she said. “They are as American as any other student, culturally and academically.”

To stop the program, she added, would be “an atrocious rejection of human values.”

Material from The Associated Press and Catholic News Service was used in this report.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Ann Johnson
4 years 1 month ago

Mr. Horton, your screed is not helpful. The Catholic church is anything but communist. Have you been in the homes of every single bishop since you state that none have any illegal aliens living in their "mansions" - however a number I know live in the cathedral rectory - some in the cathedral convent since no nuns staff the school anymore. You may call these other human beings "illegal aliens" but in God's eyes we are all equally loved and therefore through baptism we are called to be equally loving to others without regard to their passports.

E.Patrick Mosman
4 years 1 month ago

It seems that these Bishops failed to examine the case against Sheriff Arpaio before jumping to conclusions that compares his actions and subsequent Presidential pardon to the acts of "irregular", N.B illegal, immigrants. Perhaps this will explain the pardon and why is is not applicable to illegals.:

JR Cosgrove
4 years 1 month ago

To be facetious and to satisfy the Bishop's request..

Every undocumented immigrant should be pardoned as they are transported back to their native country. When they arrive back in their country, the execution of the pardon for breaking of the immigration law will be done. But there will be no pardon for breaking any of the other penal laws of the states and the federal government. Nor will there be a pardon for future violations of the law.

Do I advocate this. NO!!!

But something sensible has to be done. The first thing is to agree on a legal immigration law that has to be enforced.

Michael Barberi
4 years 1 month ago

In the Arpaio case as with most of politics today, both sides believe they are right. There is no compromising and no admittance to the possibility of error. Each side claims they understand all the facts and have evaluated them properly against the guidelines of Catholic Social Teaching. However, let's get real here. Both parties adhere to polarizing political philosophies that deny the other party any sense of victory even if it is for the good of the people. Some people like Fr. Malone question if we are idolizing a false messianism where God is left out of every political decision and where the panacea of our problems is not based on the grace of God but in the choice of a different political philosophy and government program. I do think that Fr. Malone is on to something here even though I believe his comments are exaggerated.

For one thing, I have to listen to about 5 TV and cable news channels to get a good understanding of the truth which is a understatement. That is the problem. Most Americans get their news from TV or cable and have a very limited amount of time to get it. Most work long hours and don't have the time for TV after work when they have a family. When they do listen to the news they gravitate to their favorite TV channel and that is all they get...in other words whatever is being broadcasted.

We all know that most people are feed up with Washington politics and the media. For many people, they don't like articles in good magazines like America Magazine that are not balanced, fair or accurate. Unfortunately in my opinion, this article is one of them.

James Haraldson
4 years 1 month ago

I guess "irregular" will now become a cliche word with the Catholic left now that Pope Francis has used it to trivialize fornication and adultery while remaining oblivious to the consequences including a lot more aborted children. Nonetheless, criminally illegal immigrants do not deserve blanket amnesty. Unless Bishop Gomez is prepared to visit the insane asylums where the young have had their brains fried on drugs transported across a porous border by drug gangs, or go explain to adolescent girls enslaved to sex trafficking and dragged by their hair across the border and explain to them why a secure border is less important than grandstanding another feel-good pseudo-Christian cause.

Vincent Gaglione
4 years 1 month ago

A coherent and well-formulated immigration reform and policy is necessary, indeed imperative.

Where is the critical mass of citizens lobbying and advocating for that? We Catholics represent quite a large portion of the population to accomplish it. But like the rest of the nation’s citizenry, including our legislative representatives, there appears to be more of us willing to continue the debates rather than resolve the issues. The failure of preaching about it in our parishes proves how lacking our own Catholic leaders are on the issues.

Mary, Joseph and Christ are presumed to have been “illegal”, “irregular”, “undocumented” – whatever you want to call them – immigrants when they fled to Egypt. There is no documentation that they crossed the Egyptian border with permission! Running for their lives, really! All at the command of the Almighty!

Not far different than many here in the USA, with no proof of the command of the Almighty. Except we claim that the scriptures are instructive about the right things to do. Read, hear, listen, do!

Robert Bossie
4 years 1 month ago

Many immigrants come to the US from Mexico or Central America. Thousands of them give up their whole way of life and leave their families, homes, neighbors because conditions there are impossible due to US policies.

For example, for years poor Mexican families eked out a living on small family farms living off of the nourishment they enjoyed from the corn they grew while selling the surplus on the open market so they could have some money to buy other essentials.

In 1994, the US, Mexican and Canadian government signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which, basically, created open borders between these three countries. As a result, the huge, corporate grain produces in the US. exported their grain to Mexico tariff free. This drove down the price of corn in Mexico. These US producers were further benefitted by US government farms subsidies which made the price of US corn artificially lower. Thus, Mexican subsistence farmers were unable to compete in their local markets and lost their ability to sell their surplus corn at a fair price.

Another example may be found in the migration from Central America in tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors flocking to the US. The US response, under Obama it might be noted, was to put them in prisons and deport them. But why did they come here?

Many are fleeing the highly armed gangs which formed following the end of the US backed dirty wars of the 1980s and 90s. During that period, the US supported dictators in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras massacred thousands, flooded those countries with US weapons, and destroyed society in general. Today, the resulting chaos created a vacuum which is now filled by large, violent gangs well-armed with those same US weapons. Many young persons in those countries now flee these conditions and come to the US.

Rather than disparaging these refugees, our sisters and brothers, it’s time we acknowledged US responsibility for their plight and welcome them to our country.

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 years 1 month ago

Since the current DACA is almost certainly an illegal exercise of the Executive Authority , it presents and creates a unique opportunity for a political compromise:
,Congress passes DACA in a new form as a permanent legal fix for the existing population of children and authorizes the requested $6-8Billion to start the improvements to "the current border wall".
A one time fix that will partially satisfy/dis-satisfy both sides of this contentious issue.
This compromise could even be the pattern for the future: create paths for citizenship for defined tranches of illegal immigrants while building additional sections of the border wall.
Neither of the purist extremes at the end of this endless contentious debate will be happy and that may well signal it is the right solution.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

The “wall” and "dreamer crushing" are attempts to punish opportunity and success.

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 years 1 month ago

Or to uphold the rule of law and prevent future violations.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

What's good for opportunity and success is good for America. America is all about good, hard-working, decent people.

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 years 1 month ago

It is the very concept of a System of Laws which enables "opportunity and success " and the enforcement of those laws is essential to the integrity of the System of Law itself. Laws which prove unjust, unworkable, ineffectual etc etc should be changed/repealed and our Constitution requires that such change to be passed by the Congress and signed by the President. That process is also intrinsic to the integrity of the System. Presidents are neither free to make new laws nor to waive the enforcement of validly passed laws. Certain limited Lee way is given for Executive action in interpretation but the Executive takes an oath to administer and enforce the validly passed laws. The passage/repeal of laws requires our Congressional members and the Executive to deal with opposing views and public opinion and bear the consequences . President Obama's and the Democratic Congress were in full and total unstoppable control in 2009 and 2010. President Obama , Rep Pelosi and Senator Reid promised immigration reform as the first order of business after his election in 2008. Yet immigration reform never saw the light of day. The same hard working, decent people you reference were here in the Obama years.
Respecting DACA, this issue has now been put squarely back to Congress to initiate action. It will be interesting to see the willingness of Its members to compromise to achieve a result.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

A “system of law” and the “administration of justice” perhaps are not synonymous.

For example, ” …obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither…”

The quote comes from a document signed by various people including a guy named John Hancock.

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 years 1 month ago

Your quote from the Declaration of Independence could not be more inappropriate to your argument. In fact it proves the argument against your position.
Your quoted comment from the Declaration was one of the enumerated complaints of the Colonists that the KING WAS IGNORING THE LAWS OF PARLIAMENT , in this case concerning "naturalization". I believe the correct analogue is that President Obama (The King) ignored the Constitution which designates Congress (Parliament) as the creator of immigration laws. The DACA Executive Order violates the the Constitional distribution of power . The Supreme Court has already allowed the 5th Circuit injunction against DAPA ( Ex Order for Dreamers parents) to stand as highly likely violation of the the Constitution when heard as a case in full.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

Hancock, et al. clearly favored both naturalization and new laws to encourage further migration. Follow Hancock’s lead. Give dreamers a path.

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 years 1 month ago

Please provide/cite a reference for your insistent claim that "Hancock et al favored naturalization and new laws to encourage migration"
Hancock was a Whig aristocrat who objected to the Townsend Act taxes, owned two or more slaves, and was a putative "smuggler" to avoid British Taxes. While a generous benefactor he was frequently sharply divided from Sam Adams over the variances in their perception of social class: Adams was a pure Republican man of the people. Hancock was the aristocratic business man who dressed quite well and lived high in the Family manor. Hancock left very little in writing to reach a determination as to what he personally supported, liked, approved or disapproved of. As indicated , your citation of the Declaration of Independence grievances against the Crown is not only inopposite in the extreme, it proves the counter to your argument.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

Stuart, the Declaration of Independence states, “He (King of England) has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither…” King George perhaps would disdain naturalization and migration even today.

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 years 1 month ago

"The King "= Barack Obama
The "Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners" = the The United States Immigration and Naturalization Act as reformed in 1986.
The accusation is the King took upon himself to obstruct and ignore the various laws of Naturalization passed by The Colonies...he also forbade colonization West of the Appalachian Mts.
In the current case the analogous accusation is that President Obama has obstructed the application of the United States Immigration and Naturalization, as amended. In both cases the Executive has frustrated the application of law. I am not sure how you can miss this analogy . Suppose Congress had passed a specific law to encourage immigration without limits, and then the President issued an Executive Order restricting it? Same result :The Executive is obstructing the intent and operation of law!!! Whether the subject law is Pro or Con Immigration is irrelevant.

If you cite this to show a Hancock preference for immigrants, the laws cited in The Declaration of Independence were Colonial laws which varied highly in content. If you were to read the provisions of some of these laws you will find wholesale descrimination against various nationalities and religions. The King and Parliament for their part wished to be sure they were worded to favor Protestants, including oaths of sacramental fealty. I have no idea what Hancock thought of such discrimination except that as a New England man that discrimination was embedded in its founding and generally reflected in its laws.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

It’s perfectly clear, Stuart. Lawyers, hired by corporations and the top 400 household incomes, create a system of law promoting their client interests (money). The administration of justice requires doing what’s right, in this case, protecting dreamers who have done nothing wrong.

Stuart Meisenzahl
4 years 1 month ago

Once again you find the The Top 400Households and Corporations the source of all you perceive to be wrong...this time it's the DACA/ immigration issue. However, you have again gotten the facts exactly backward. The corporations and all the major economic business groups are in favor greater immigration than currently permitted; expanded "green card" issuance; a path to citizenship for all undocumented residents; greatly expanded temporary work permits;temporary admittance for agricultural workers ;etc. Try googling just "US Chamber of Commerce Immigration" for a sampling of what you refer to as "the money interest" position on these issues.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

Stuart, truth is stranger than fiction. Some republicans are the most vocal deniers of man-made climate change, yet the top ten wind-energy producing congressional districts are represented by Republicans.

Chuck Kotlarz
4 years 1 month ago

As to the merit of a wall, Gildor, an elf in J. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, advises Frodo, “The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourself in, but you cannot forever fence it out.”

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