Illegal Immigration and Executive Amnesty

I would like to share a few of my thoughts about our nation’s current immigration crisis and President Obama’s unprecedented Executive Order issued on November 21 granting immediate and unconditional amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants here in the United States. First of all, I agree with Republican and Tea Party leaders and with the majority of my fellow Americans that this unilateral executive action taken by our president represented an unconstitutional abuse of his authority. The president’s job is to enforce laws approved and passed by Congress, not to make up his own laws as he sees fit. (There is one exception to this: Unconstitutional laws passed by Congress, such as ObamaCare, should not be enforced but repealed, if they are not struck down by the courts.) Immigration reform legislation is fundamentally a matter for our elected representatives in Congress, who are the real lawmakers. For the umpteenth time since his administration began nearly six years ago, President Obama has exceeded his powers in order to foist his socialist agenda on our nation without our consent. He must be held accountable for violating his oath of office. I think Congress is overdue to begin talk of impeachment.

I am also rather unhappy that our good Catholic bishops have voiced approval for President Obama’s unlawful course of action. They have the best of intentions, and they are concerned that those millions of people who are in our country illegally receive needed care and assistance, along with the opportunity for a better life, in line with Catholic social thought and biblical teaching about welcoming the stranger, caring for the least of our brethren, and not oppressing the alien. But I would respectfully submit that our bishops’ approach to this complex issue is slightly flawed. The hundreds of undocumented immigrants who pour across our southern border each day are for the most part deeply religious, hardworking, and otherwise law-abiding individuals whose chief goal is to find productive employment in order to support themselves and their families back home. Most of them end up remaining here permanently and making a lasting positive contribution to our nation. However, such a large barrel is definitely going to contain some bad apples as well. So while granting privileges of citizenship to deserving aliens, this blanket amnesty has likely also made some foreign criminals and gang members citizens of the U.S. It’s a double-edged sword. By approving President Obama’s illegal decree, our bishops undermine their own respect for the rule of law while accomplishing little for the immigrants themselves. There are many Catholic charitable organizations who are already fulfilling the Gospel mission by reaching out to these people at the local level regardless of their immigration status. Having the federal government confer instant citizenship on them with no questions asked is irresponsible and unnecessary. In addition, making illegal immigrants instant citizens on a par with natural-born citizens and legal immigrants is unfair to the latter two groups of people. It is simply wrong to reward people for violating our nation’s immigration laws, regardless of their motives or the extenuating circumstances involved.

Furthermore, our bishops do not seem to understand the real reasons for the president’s action, which have nothing whatsoever to do with justice and compassion for immigrants. President Obama’s unconstitutional edict was driven purely by political considerations in line with his own socialist agenda: its sole purpose was to add millions of new Democratic voters to the United States so that Hillary Clinton can be elected president to succeed him. Although cloaked that way, this illegal Executive Order was not designed to advance the welfare of the illegal immigrants themselves. President Obama has by now amply demonstrated that he doesn’t care about the poor or about anyone else in this country who is struggling financially; his only concern is to protect the major corporate interests that back his presidency. And those interests, including Planned Parenthood, Monsanto, and the big pharmaceutical and insurance industries, are also backing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president in order to retain their grip on U.S. politics and the economy.

There is no question that our immigration system has become an unwieldy bureaucracy that is in dire need of reform. Bureaucratic red tape alone has been a major factor contributing to the boom in illegal immigration. But granting millions of illegal immigrants automatic, unconditional, and permanent citizenship through executive fiat is not the proper way to begin resolving the situation. Our Catholic bishops themselves for years have been championing a comprehensive immigration reform proposal that includes streamlining the legal immigration process, offering immigrants who came here illegally a legal pathway by which they can earn citizenship over a period of time, and addressing the root causes of mass migration to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America such as endemic poverty and organized crime. Although I may not fully agree with every aspect of this proposal, I do support it as a wise and common-sense approach to the complicated problem of illegal immigration. Our bishops should stick to their well-rounded proposal and not be so quick to hail with delight every move by our federal government that seems to advance their cause, much less a move that violates the Constitution and certain basic principles of justice.

I also think that more attention should be paid to the role of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in the 1990s by President Clinton) and multinational corporations in the illegal immigration boom that has been affecting our country for the last twenty years. Big companies love cheap labor, and they can get lots of it when national borders are porous and immigration laws are weak or not enforced. If it is to be long-lasting and effective, American immigration reform must be sufficiently farsighted to include structural reform of the global economy based on principles of justice and charity for all involved, as Benedict XVI spelled out in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Thus the U.S. must be willing to engage in a spirit of community with other countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, to address the root causes of its illegal immigration problem.

Congress and the President must work together to enact a just, comprehensive, and well thought out immigration reform law that secures our borders and encourages legal immigration while protecting basic human rights and promoting the common good of all Americans. Such legislation has been stymied to date by rampant corruption and lack of bipartisanship in Washington. Hopefully, with a change of leadership in our nation’s capital, badly needed immigration reform will finally move from concept to reality. In the meantime, I fully support Congress doing everything within its power to halt the implementation of President Obama’s latest assault on our Constitution, and to hold this dangerous tyrant accountable for abusing his authority yet again.

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