The migrant caravan through the eyes of Catholic social teaching

Central American migrants depart from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on Oct. 21. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)Central American migrants depart from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on Oct. 21. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

A caravan of thousands has reignited the immigration debate in the United States just weeks before midterm elections.

The United Nations estimates that 7,200 migrants, largely from Central America, have entered Mexico and are making their way toward the United States. With at least 1,000 miles left in their journey, their fate remains unclear.

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President Donald Trump raised the profile of this migrant exodus, commenting on the caravan numerous times on Twitter and threatening to halt aid to Central American countries if the migrants are not stopped.

“Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large Caravans, that the Democrats won’t approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country,” Mr. Trump tweeted Oct. 17. “Great Midterm issue for Republicans!”

The caravan calls to mind two seemingly conflicting principles in Catholic social teaching: the right to migrate and the right of sovereign nations to control their borders. Yet Kristin E. Heyer, theology professor at Boston College, explained that the right to control borders is not absolute.

The United Nations estimates that 7,200 migrants have entered Mexico and are making their way toward the United States. With at least 1,000 miles left in their journey, their fate remains unclear.

“In the case of blatant human rights violations, the right to state sovereignty is relativized by the tradition’s primary commitment to protecting human dignity,” she said in an email to America. “Whereas limits may be set, the tradition emphasizes that powerful nations have a stronger obligation to accommodate migrant flows and that the right to asylum must not be denied when people’s lives are genuinely threatened in their homeland.”

Many of the migrants in the caravan are fleeing Central America’s “Northern Triangle”—El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. These countries are beset by “the world’s highest murder rates, deaths linked to drug trafficking and organized crime and endemic poverty,” Ms. Heyer said.

“The value of securing borders has to be weighed against these rights of asylum seekers to seek protection and the demands of social justice,” she said.

Although much smaller in number, another organized caravan caught worldwide attention earlier this year. That caravan reached a size of more than 1,200, but only 200 reached the U.S. border, according to the Associated Press. Many of these migrants in the end sought asylum in Mexico.

Taking a different approach from his U.S. counterpart, Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the United States, Canada and Mexico could work together to develop poor areas of Central America and southern Mexico. “In this way we confront the phenomenon of migration, because he who leaves his town does not leave for pleasure but out of necessity,” Mr. Lopez Obrador said on Oct. 21.

Many are fleeing countries beset by “the world’s highest murder rates, deaths linked to drug trafficking and organized crime and endemic poverty.”

“Unfortunately, President Trump’s tweets about the approaching caravan employ his preferred law-and-order lens, which casts immigrants as willful lawbreakers, posing threats to our physical and economic security,” Ms. Heyer said. “These portrayals of asylum seekers as dangerous criminals taking advantage of ‘loopholes,’ which he has highlighted since announcing his candidacy and throughout implementation of new enforcement strategies, reflect false assumptions and facile analyses of complex push factors.”

The “America first” mindset, she said, “diverts attention from root causes, U.S. complicity and lasting policy reforms.” Migrants are cast as threats to security, despite many studies that have shown otherwise, Ms. Heyer said.

“Fear of difference—even of very young children crossing a border and offering themselves to authorities—is relatively easy to mass-market, and it shapes society’s imagination in powerful ways,” she said.

That includes the minds of Catholics, according to Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J., professor of theology and Latino studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“We really need to appreciate what we mean when we say the church is ‘catholic,’” he said. “Communion is the result of achieving harmony among difference. Unity is not based on uniformity. It’s difficult because people fear difference.”

“If my neighbor’s house is on fire, I cannot say it isn’t my problem.”

The Trump administration may be playing on those fears in the case of the caravan, Father Deck said. Mr. Trump “has chosen the anti-immigrant stance as something that is useful to him,” he said.

“There’s a tremendous challenge for the Latino community to stand up and confront the issue and not allow itself to be victimized by Trump or anyone else,” Father Deck said. “The faith becomes an energizer that can galvanize people to stand up for the dignity of the human person.”

The dignity of the human person is the foundation of Catholic social teaching, according to David Hollenbach, S.J., a moral theologian at Georgetown University. The unity of the family is also a primary concern in that tradition, especially with respect to immigration.

U.S. citizens do have obligations to each other, Father Hollenbach said, comparing the relationship to the one that a household shares.

“Still, if my neighbor’s house is on fire, I cannot say it isn’t my problem,” he said. “All human beings have a fundamental dignity that demands respect. We cannot say, ‘It’s just Americans’” who deserve human dignity and protection.

In 1948, the United Nations recognized the right of individuals to seek asylum from persecution in other countries. According to the U.N., a well-founded fear of persecution can involve race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. According to its 1951 convention on refugees, the U.N. prohibited asylum seekers from being detained simply for seeking asylum. The convention also recognized that seeking asylum may require individuals to “breach immigration rules.”

The church teaches that people also have the right to migrate because of acute economic necessity. According to a summary of Catholic social teaching on migration from the U.S. bishops: “[P]eople have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families. This is based on biblical and ancient Christian teaching that the goods of the earth belong to all people. While the right to private property is defended in Catholic social teaching, individuals do not have the right to use private property without regard for the common good.”

“You don’t say that someone who is fleeing from extreme need should be regarded as a criminal,” Father Hollenbach said.

And, according to “Strangers No LongerTogether on the Journey of Hope, a joint pastoral letter from the Mexican and U.S. bishops, “More powerful economic nations, which have the ability to protect and feed their residents, have a stronger obligation to accommodate migration flows.”

“The defense of the national border is not the only value at stake,” Father Hollenbach said. “When people in other parts of the world are in great need or danger, that takes precedence.”

A number of people who are involved in Central American gangs were deported from the United States, he said. One of the major gangs was founded in Los Angeles. Over decades U.S. policy in Central America has contributed to the region’s current economic, civic and political instability. Many argue its current support of a revived authoritarianism in Honduras has contributed to the urgency of migration out of that Central American state.

“Many are fleeing from the consequences of U.S. action,” Father Hollenbach said. “We should be finding a way to allow people to stay at home safely.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Roland Greystoke
4 weeks ago

And Jesus said unto them, Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's. And they marveled greatly at him. - Parents who teach their children that it is okay to break the law are not good parents. I would not want them as neighbors.

David Stump
4 weeks ago

Jesus said "Render to Caesar..." once. He commanded us to love our neighbors many, many times. If you went to Mass last Sunday and listened to the Gospel reading you would have heard Him say that the greatest among you must be the servant of all. Do we have to throw open our borders to anyone who wants to come in? No. Do we have to show some compassion for people fleeing from intolerable conditions? Yes. America was built by people fleeing from intolerable conditions at home, the Pilgrims, the Irish potato famine, the horrors of WWII. Many people opposed their coming but they have all contributed to our greatness. Why did your ancestors come here? And how were they received?

Ellen B
4 weeks ago

It's not illegal to request asylum in the US.

It's not Christian to try to palm off the Render Unto Caesar line to wipe out everything that Christ said about how to treat your neighbor.

arthur mccaffrey
4 weeks ago

this whole article is a crock. This is not a few people trying to enter legally or illegally--this is an invasion by a horde who claim that they are somehow entitled to enter the USA by any means necessary regardless of both sovereign law and international law. That is an invasion pure and simple, and I hope Trump does call out the military to stop it. Why isn't
this magazine writing about the irresponsibility of very young mothers bringing very young babies on this gruelling marathon--what does Catholic social teaching say about that ? Read the WSJ which raises the suspicion that such an organized caravan has political money behind it--in other words these so called helpless people are being used for somebody's political agenda. RCC is closing church properties all over the USA--why don't they put their money where their mouth is and open those properties to house these 7000 migrants they care about so much--and also pick up the tab for their social welfare while they are at it.

Richard Dubiel
4 weeks ago

This is an invasion and that ought to be emphasized. It is political, organized, and funded. Thanks for your post.

Mary Gillespie
3 weeks 5 days ago

I work with immigrants and refugees all the time. I first met them when they came to pick apples in my home state. There were no Americans willing to do the work. There are still no Americans willing to do the manual labor that many immigrants do for so little recompense. My own grandparents were immigrants from Ireland. My grandfathers were coal miners. They came because there were no local people to work the mines. This article is not a crock. Ever since I've been following history the story of our relationships with our neighbors in the south is a story of us funding dictators and buying drugs. No wonder the states are in constant turmoil. We didn't often give peace makers the tools and the support to work with countries to bring peace and to improve their economies. NAFTA (and I realize you probably hate that agreement too because the republicans have made every global agreement anathema - no matter how much value it brings to multiple groups), but NAFTA was meant to help stabilize economies and keep people living and working where they lived (particularly Mexico). The families I know are hard working people. Mothers and Fathers who labor endless hours so they and their children won't be murdered and/or so they and their children can have food to eat and the children schools to go to. If our congress and senate had passed the bill sponsored by Senator McCain during the Bush administration there would be far less cries of unfair. By damn, sir, if you were a Mother like I am, you would be showing responsibility to bring your child here if his and your life were threatened. I give as much of my time and money as I can to help the poor everywhere. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all helped instead of turned away those needy people?

John Hess
3 weeks 4 days ago

Arthur, please let me address several of the assertions that you make.

Regarding the "horde". According to reference.com, in 2015, 507,767 Mexicans crossed the border legally and 267,885 Mexicans were apprehended attempting illegal entry. That is a total of 775,652 individuals processed. Assuming all 7000 in the caravan make the thousand miles to the border, that represents 0.9% of the 2015 total. 0.9%, it seems to me, would constitute a "horde" only in the most fevered imagination.

Regarding the ethics of young mothers bringing babies on the trek, I refer you to Joseph and Mary bringing a young baby to Egypt. That was also a long way to go on foot.

Regarding the imaginary "political money", I note that you seem to take a suspicion by some conspiracy theorist and then state it as a fact.

For the sake of your own blood pressure, calm down. Sorry. but to me you sound like a scared little girl.

Ablejack Courtney
3 weeks 4 days ago

arthur asks: "Why isn't this magazine writing about the irresponsibility of very young mothers bringing very young babies on this grueling marathon--what does Catholic social teaching say about that?"
The book of Exodus in the Bible describes a similar caravan of political refugees. Those pilgrims were a highly regarded group as the story goes.

Bill Mazzella
3 weeks 2 days ago

I guess the "Exodus" was an invasion. I guess the poor and downtrodden need the Blood of the Lamb to protect them from the Devils of this world like Trump. The "Angel of the Lord" will surely not spare all those who won't give up their comfort to allow the downtrodden comfort.

Elaine Liming
4 weeks ago

I agree with the fact Catholic Social TEACHING gives a high emphasis on the Dignity of the Human Family However it has been reported that Mexico has arrested 200 individuals from countries wanting to harm us. It has also been reported that many have been paid to make this trip and cause problems for our country before the mid-term elections. I am sure our President has that information. He has to decide to protect out border or let chaos happen. One border control officer has commented that when one of these illegal immigrants enter carrying a bomb capable of destroying a city maybe people will have a better understanding of dangers to our country. We have to change our laws and loop holes in our immigration policy and demand legal immigration. The Catholic hierarchy needs to demand policy changes that protects the American citizen and those wanting to come here legally and be good neighbors like the immigrants who came, worked and fought for this country.

Ellen B
4 weeks ago

You might want to check the source of your reports. They are over 1000 miles away and making the trip on foot. They will not be here prior to the elections in 13 days. The caravan is made up of mostly women & children travelling together for safety. Finally, it is not illegal to request asylum in the US.

Toby Gillis
3 weeks 6 days ago

You need to check your sources Ellen. This group is 10 to 1 young men for each woman or child

Ellen B
3 weeks 4 days ago

Once again, 1000 miles from the US... traveling on foot... not coming to disrupt any elections. As for a 10-1 ratio of men to women, you need to name your (reputable) source. But all those poor people heading to the US make a great dog whistle.

Barb Beaghan
3 weeks 2 days ago

Many, many American Catholics give every single week/month through the hundreds of collections to help missions all over the world!!! We are helping every country who asks for help!!!! NOW...Americans are asking for help!!! This invasion is NOT about people who need help. It is a politically motivated movement to promote "open borders" which would be the death of America! We are already suffering the consequences of drug kings and gangs coming in illegally and in droves to poison our young people. The violence in America right now is overwhelming!!! We have young and old to take care of and they are being ignored. Our vets are being treated shamefully!! We need to take care of our own people FIRST or there will be no one to help the other people who really need help!!! We cannot afford to open our borders to every single person who decides "the grass looks greener". They need to take responsibility for making their countries better by taking active roles in their own governments and ousting the criminal leaders and people who are creating the "unpleasant" living conditions. Elaine, RIGHT ON...The Catholic hierarchy needs to demand policy changes that protects the American citizen and those wanting to come here legally and be good neighbors like the immigrants who came, worked and fought for this country. Emphasis on the word LEGALLY!!!!

Andrew Wolfe
4 weeks ago

The "caravan" has been breaking laws and causing property damage everywhere they have gone. And they have given up any claim to humanitarian assistance from a country whose flags they decorate with swastikas and then burn. The "right to state sovereignty is relativized"? I'm sorry, this is simply false description of Catholic teaching wrapped in sophistry—basically it's saying that suffering in any country requires all countries to open their borders.

John Seiler
4 weeks ago

“The value of securing borders has to be weighed against these rights of asylum seekers to seek protection and the demands of social justice,” Heyer said. So, she's saying the US should invade Honduras to fix its dysfunctional government? Didn't Hillary do that in 2009, causing this crisis? https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/04/19/hillar…

Richard Bell
4 weeks ago

“'Many are fleeing from the consequences of U.S. action,' Father Hollenbach said."
Father Hollenbach's assertion seems preposterous. But my mind is open and I would welcome some reasonable explanation or support for it. Anyone?

arthur mccaffrey
4 weeks ago

you'll have to read Noam Chomsky who has been arguing for the last 50 years that the USA has been fomenting unrest and regime change in South America. But in the other banana republics that we keep pouring money into in Africa and elsewhere most of that aid goes into corrupt pockets. Instead of a wall, why don't we just stop the flow of money south, unless we can guarantee that the money is being used for poverty relief and socioeconomic growth and education --and birth control!

Richard Bell
4 weeks ago

Noam Chomsky? Because I firmly agree with everything else you write here, based on facts and reason, I will just assume that you suggested reading Noam Chomsky as an inside joke.

arthur mccaffrey
3 weeks 3 days ago

you asked for a reasonable suggestion--Chomsky is no joke--read him and find out

Michael Swanson
4 weeks ago

The first issue is the rule of law and due process. It appears that this migrant caravan is ignoring both of these principals. Observing the law is a matter of "rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's"' .
But there appears to be a much bigger agenda here. Someone or some organization is supplying these people with food, water, clothing, and probably shelter. I think that the public deserves to know just who is organizing this migrant caravan, who is financing it, and just what their agenda is. We are not being told the whole story!

Ellen B
4 weeks ago

Must be the boogie man George Soros, he's everywhere! he's everywhere!

Greg Heck
4 weeks ago

Illegal aliens must be blocked from entering the U.S., or else immediately jailed and deported.
They are not above the law.

Ablejack Courtney
3 weeks 4 days ago

Oh I see the cause of your nescient fears. I am sure you will be relieved to learn these are not "illegal aliens" as you have assumed. They are political refugees seeking asylum, just as our ancestors have before them. A perfectly legal and courageous group of migrants which we are bound by our own laws to shelter. Of course you would not want the US to break the law by not welcoming them to the safe harbor of our great nation.

Ablejack Courtney
3 weeks 4 days ago

Oh I see the cause of your nescient fears. I am sure you will be relieved to learn these are not "illegal aliens" as you have assumed. They are political refugees seeking asylum, just as our ancestors have before them. A perfectly legal and courageous group of migrants which we are bound by our own laws to shelter. Of course you would not want the US to break the law by not welcoming them to the safe harbor of our great nation.

John Walton
4 weeks ago

This particular episode is a farce. Does any sage at America Mag's Editorial Staff ask how they pre-positioned porta-potties and meal stations. Who is paying for the semi-truck trailers on which the immigrants are transported. Theatre moved to the world's stage.

...and, timed as it is to coincide with the November elections, it's gonna backfire. Nothing but a political stunt.

David Stump
4 weeks ago

In all I have seen and read about the caravan the only ones who are talking about “pre-positioned porta-potties and meal stations” are the regular bunch of conspiracy nuts. If you have evidence of their existence please share it. History is full of people enduring all kinds of hardship fleeing from desperate conditions like Moses and the Exodus, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and the 900 Jews fleeing Hitler who were refused entry to the US in 1939, many of whom eventually died in the concentration camps.

J Cosgrove
4 weeks ago

How are all these people being fed two to three times a day? Where are the toilet facilities for 7,000 people? Where do they sleep? Have you ever traveled with a group of 40 people on a bus and tried to organize eating, bathroom stops and sleeping? It is often chaos let alone for this many people. There must be organizers. It's roughly 1600 miles from Tegucigalpa to McAllen and over a 1000 miles from their present position.

Terry Kane
3 weeks 6 days ago

These are not immigrants, they are invaders. So many on this site believe these folks are some sort of pilgrims - they are more like a military group without uniforms. They are mostly young men who appear well fed, but hungry. Thousands of them are on their way here, many carrying foreign flags. They say they have a common purpose.
That description does not paint a favorable picture and doesn't portend good times for Americans.
There have been interviews shown on TV with several men admitting having been deported from the U.S. at least once.
Do the posters here acknowledge U.S. national sovereignty at all?
To compare these invaders to Jesus is absurd. The people shown on TV have not claimed that the Lord warned them to leave their home country and seek refuge in the United States.
Weren't the troops invading France during two world wars groups of well fed, but hungry men of a certain age marching in the same direction for a common purpose? Those were organized groups as well.
The homeless Americans must feel ignored and disregarded if they know what is going on with these supposed migrants. How can so many Catholics pontificate about showing love to others while showing none to their fellow citizens.
We all have to wake up!

Bill McIntosh
4 weeks ago

We are tired of this swindle. Its always our fault and they always have a right to go to the US. 99.9% want jobs and freebies. The will vote democrat and the party of abortion, gay marriage and economic collapse will advocate for them and see to it that they can vote (this harmless measure to allow illegals to vote in school elections will be used-mark my words-to facilitate voting in STATE & FEDERAL ELECTIONS https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/san-francisco-allows-undoc…). Why does our Church not see that behind them are three million Venezuelans who could pull the same stunt. America has TOO MANY IMMIGRANTS-SHUT DOWN IMMIGRATION & TURN ON THE ASSIMILATION!!!

Peter Schaps
4 weeks ago

If the sovereignty in the mortal realm of the American republic is not worth the paper it was printed upon, how are mortals to quantify any value upon the sovereignty claimed by a man from Nazareth named Jesus?

Monica Storozuk
4 weeks ago

It is discouraging to read the comments to this article. Not one of the commenters seems to have a heart for the people fleeing their home countries. Jesus was himself an asylum seeker. To those who quote "give to Caesar what is Caesar's": really? This is the best you can do as a Christian? Seeking asylum is not breaking the law. Seneral years ago Canada opened its doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees.....families in the most desperate and terrible of circumstances. Many warned of the terrorism that would result from this act of mercy and humanitarianism. Several years later: no increase in crime; no acts of terror from the Syrian refugee population and many families contributing to Canadian society.

Michael Swanson
4 weeks ago

This is more than seeking asylum.
This is a well-organized effort that is being sponsored by some organization for their agenda. For some reason, the media does not seem to be interested in investigating either the agenda or its supporting organization(s).
Regardless, nations are groups of people bound together by their laws. Immigration laws and due process need to be observed. Ignoring these and other laws is an invitation to chaos. Jesus clearly recognized this.

Monica Storozuk
3 weeks 6 days ago

Michael, thanks for responding to my comment.
I have attached a link to an article that challenges your point about the caravan being a well-organized effort. You need to support this claim as it seems to be used to push the idea that nefarious forces are trying to "invade" the U,S.
I think we may have some common ground: I support immigration laws and due process. Do you support treating vulnerable asylum seekers with compassion? While some in the caravan may have intentions of illegally entering the US many (from my reading I believe most) intend to seek asylum through the proper process. We have common ground then, if you would like to see true asylum seekers treated dignity and compassion.
The heart of Jesus's message is surely to love one's neighbour as oneself. If you agree then I am sure you will support a "due process" that expeditiously and compassionately considers each application for asylum.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/24/caravan-migrants-what-i…

LuAnn O'Connell
3 weeks 3 days ago

I agree. Jesus must weep at our selfish "circle the wagons" attitude, our repetition of lies about these people fleeing for their lives out of desperation, our willful ignorance of our country's contribution to the condition in their home countries and our callousness towards fellow people made in his image whom Jesus gave his life for. May God have mercy when we one day say to him, "‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?"

Dr.Cajetan Coelho
4 weeks ago

Life is a pilgrimage. We are privileged to be journeying on God's Holy Ground and living in God's time. Pilgrimages are known to have happy endings. Wishing the pilgrims strength and stamina. God bless.

Vincent Gaglione
4 weeks ago

You could probably count on your right hand (no pun intended) the number of Catholic, or even Christian, pulpits from which is preached many of the Christian principles enunciated in this article. I recently read somewhere that Western capitalism is the antithesis of Christianity, instilling in its peoples the love of their own personal economic comfort over all other attitudes and persons. It has becomes very apparent in the populist, nationalist USA today.

David Stump
4 weeks ago

Hear, hear. I am a weekend assistant at a very conservative parish. I try to introduce them to radical Christian principles like “Love your neighbor” but if I openly preached in favor of the refugees in the caravan, a few people would quietly say to me “Good homily” while several of the more conservative would go and scream at the pastor to get rid of me.

J Cosgrove
4 weeks ago

If you really believed in "love your neighbor" you might ask why all these Catholic countries from where these people come are so dysfunctional. There is no way that the United States can handle all the people of Central America. So the true love would be to find ways to make Latin America functional. It certainly isn't Catholic Social Teaching which is a formula for creating poverty. There is a sure formula, freedom and Catholic morality.

J Cosgrove
4 weeks ago

I recently read somewhere that Western capitalism is the antithesis of Christianity, instilling in its peoples the love of their own personal economic comfort over all other attitudes and persons

You read something from a person who hates humanity. Without western capitalism, you would be starving like 95% of the world was till it came along.

Vincent Gaglione
3 weeks 5 days ago

A “capitalism” that does not share the fruits of the system with all the creators of that wealth is bereft of any morality, and that is what was implied by the statement that I read. In addition, in a Catholic world where we claim to be pro-life, we come up awfully short on the concomitant moral instructions for the provision of the economic well-being of those who, for whatever reasons, are unable to support themselves.

J Cosgrove
3 weeks 5 days ago

You are talking nonsense. For 10,000 years about 95% of the world was starving. Along comes free market capitalism in the mid 1700's in one small part of Europe and the colonies. The world you see today is the result with poverty disappearing almost everywhere. World population is over 6 billion more and only a small % is starving. How is that not sharing? Read Facfulness by Jans Rosling and Suicide of the West by Jonah Goldberg. You will then have to retract most of what you say.

Jose A
4 weeks ago

Yes, as Christians we need to recognize and address the humanitarian needs of others. With this thought in mind we also need to be a fair society to those who have struggled in effort to give their families a better life within the guidelines of a nation's laws. In recognizing that our President's job is uphold the law of the nation I cannot find fault for his decisions. As a Christian I also know that the President is not in any position to support just a Christian point of view.
The people of America are one of the most generous of nations here on the planet. What made this nation as great and as blessed is it is that it is a "nation of laws." In recognizing this conundrum between my faith and the respect I have for my nation, we must be aware of what makes a good government and one of those precedents is the protection of its people, of those who wish to enter and those who are resident.
Pray for the people of nations that are corrupt and unjust and get on your knees that we can be thankful that we are not dealing with same circumstances here in America.

Mike Macrie
4 weeks ago

Wow, reading these comments like Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God, if this is not a thing of God what is ? These comments offer no solutions to the problem other than let them die where they are or send them home and die in the streets by gangs. We call ourselves Catholics, I have a hard time calling ourselves Christians. We as Catholics and our Government can do better for people persecuted who walk the walk for survival of their families.

Bill Mazzella
4 weeks ago

Jesus was crucified for breaking the law. Trump is the god of many here. Not Jesus.

Joshua DeCuir
4 weeks ago

I'm a pro-immigration, moderate Republican who voted for Hillary & despises Trump's racist fear-mongering. But I am not swayed by the arguments set forth in this article that seemingly lead to the conclusion that these person's must be granted unconditional entry into the US. First, it seems discordant with the tradition of what constitutes serious human rights violations that justify asylum, going back to FDR & the Holocaust. I just don't think one can seriously conclude that the economic & social conditions in Guatemala are such that they grant absolute right to entry. Further, what justification under Catholic Social Teaching is there for allowing these persons entry in order to fill low-income jobs that most Americans avoid, with few, if any, legal protections?

Finally, I would have liked to have heard a serious discussion from the scholars of what precise, concrete enforcement of the immigration laws would be justifiable in their view. For example, would a merit-based system be acceptable? Because it just seems to me that saying there is some esoteric right to enforce restrictions, but in practice never actually finding a concrete situation of legitimate enforcement is talking out of both sides of your mouth.

Lastly, given the polarized state of things, those seeking to justify the entry of these persons ought to give consideration to the effect that action will have on the political order. To quote fiercely anti-Trump David Frum, if its going to be considered facist to enforce sovereign borders, then the people are going to hire facists to do so.

Charles Erlinger
4 weeks ago

The situation at our southern border, rapidly descending into a calamity, is a culmination of decades of geopolitical stupidity. It is astonishing to read authors and commenters repeatedly refer to the separation of minor children from mothers, or building a coast-to-coast wall, as a policy. If only we had a policy.

A policy is an articulation of a goal or desired end-state, one that could take generations to achieve, but is intended to last indefinitely. A policy that would make sense would be a consistent solidification of influential relations with our closest neighbors on this earth, the nations of North and Central America, designed to last over multiple generations, and characterized by a mutual acknowledgment of at least a minimum set of values and principles. How does the strategy of separating minor children from mothers or building a coast-to-coast wall further that policy goal?

Instead we have a record of firehouse-style responses to tardily recognized emergencies, for example: the disastrous intervention in Chile in the late 1960s, the equally ineffective intervention in Nicauragua in the 1970s and the repeated blundering half-measures in the drug wars for the last 50 years or so.

The policy that would make sense would be carefully and sensitively to nudge and support the polities that we are concerned with, consistently over generations, toward lawful structures that the populations could recognize as desired and livable—structures that would dependably recognize human rights, to include property rights. The post WWII era would have been a perfect time in which to initiate such a policy. It would have coincided perfectly with the nurturing policy that we provided to Europe and Asia, which, remarkably, benefitted not only our allies, but also our recently defeated, sworn enemies.

We would have had to take into account that we were dealing with peoples whose experience with us had been conditioned by our essentially 20th century version of 16th century mercantilism up to that point. We would have had to take into account that we had roughly a century of history of derisively referring to these peoples as “banana republics,” an accurate description of a condition that we ourselves had been in no hurry to improve. We would have had to take into account that these peoples were stumbling out from under the yoke and blinders of colonialism much more recently that we ourselves had done. On the other hand, we would not have had the mutual memory of all out war that we shared with Britain, France, Germany, Italy, China, Japan, the Philippines and many others.

Our post-WWII policies in Western Europe and East Asia toward allies and former enemies generally resulted in 65 or 70 years of comparative peace and prosperity, compared, that is, to the 65 or 70 years of bloodshed in both of those areas prior to the end of WWII.

Those observers are right who remark that the only way our southern border problem can be solved is to solve the situations that force people to leave their homelands in abject desperation for a variety of reasons. We could have looked at the post-WWII turmoil and lawlessness of the Middle East and Africa, as well as South and Southeast Asia, and all of the dehumanized conflicts that took place amid the wreckage of colonialism in those areas, and we could have had the Eureka moment of discovery that we faced similar potential among our immediate neighbors to the south. We could have had a multigenerational head start on achieving a long term policy objective of shaping a future for these peoples that would serve the future peace and prosperity of all of us near neighbors, and we blew it.

It is possible that our post-WWII leaders saw the opportunity but experienced resource constraints that are unknown to us. But it is never too late to initiate a policy toward our close hemispheric neighbors similar to the one our leaders of the post-WWII era did toward Europe and Asia. To be productive, our efforts in this direction should studiously avoid appearing to expect hegemony.

Michael Barberi
4 weeks ago

If we take the author's argument here to its logical conclusion, the U.S. and other rich nations must give preferential immigration treatment for the poor from every country in the world that have a high murder rate, high gang rate, a corrupt government, inept government social programs, no jobs, inadequate employment opportunities and low wages. Give me break. This is not Catholic Social Teaching. The U.S. is not responsible for solving the world's problems or the problems of every country. We give most poor countries millions of dollars only to see that the money goes into a corrupt system of government and the people continue to suffer.

If you listen to the many interviews that the press had with people in this caravan, many don't know what they will say when they get to the U.S. border. Most are fleeing their countries because of economic reasons and a corrupt and inept government. Granted, many fear the drug cartels, a high crime rate and the gangs. However, only a few can satisfy the U.S. and U.N. requirements of asylum.

I support increasing the 1 million annual limit on immigrants to 2 million from all countries. However, this will not stop the millions of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America that want to enter the U.S. "illegally" and ask for asylum when they step into the U.S. These asylum seekers are given a court date as much as 1 year away, only to see that most of them never show up. For the few that show up in court, 80% are denied asylum and are sent back to their country of origin. These are the facts.

We need to fix our immigration laws. However, it is the Congress that is to blame for this caravan and our immigration problems. President Trump offered a reasonable legislative solution, but the Democrats voted no "for political reasons".

Finally, the author should provide an accurate description of Catholic Social Teaching and be truthful as to the real obstacles to solving our immigration problems.

Phillip Stone
3 weeks 6 days ago

Has anyone here carefully watched the video data broadcast from the route of the hoard?

Healthy, fit, well-equipped adult males abound; people who are of military age and suitability and NOT with family.

It was the same amongst the "boat people" invading Australia from the Middle East via our near north. Thankfully, it is a hostile and rugged coastline with few suitable landing spots and eventually our Navy successfully blockaded the invasion and turned the invading armada back.

We take a proportionately large number of genuine refugees every year, consisting of the truly and genuinely endangered and persecuted who have humbly and patiently complied with the identification and assessment requirements of our nation in refugee camps around the world.

We welcome the needy and the persecuted, not invaders and also have a family reunion programme for anyone granted entry. At the same time we go out to the camps in other countries with food, facilities for clean water and medical care so that many can be well cared-for and safe until crises abate, when they are able to return to their places of origin and continue life at home.

Thomas Howard
3 weeks 6 days ago

These pilgrim people remind us that mana can still come from heaven (thank you, generous, hospitable, and Christian, Mexican people), and that the Pharaoh is ready to send his chariots to kill them. What will the Red Sea experience be like this time? Will justice and mercy reign?

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