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Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Bold Steps Needed To Address Illegal Immigration

January 26, 2023 Featured Today No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

One of the ways in which the rule of law has been utterly flouted by the Biden administration has been its unwillingness to seriously enforce U.S. immigration law. In fact, the current crisis at the southern border is largely due to Biden’s signaling, as soon as he took office, that people were essentially free to come across. Not only did he stop the construction of the border wall and end the “Remain in Mexico” policy, but he made it clear that “open borders” was now the rule of the day. The result, of course, is that there are now millions of people in the U.S. who have no right to be here. They have violated federal law.
The burdens on the U.S. are already apparent. Various organizations and levels of government have to attend to the needs of the immigrants (some states are even allowing illegal immigrants access to government benefit programs), they take jobs away from American citizens (in some cases because they are willing to work for lower wages), and it is likely that crime will increase.
We are hearing about serious crimes committed by illegal immigrants and Latin American countries like Venezuela are reportedly releasing convicted lawbreakers from their prisons to send them north to the U.S. For all practical purposes, there is no screening of these immigrants who enter across the southern border. The issue has even been raised about nations hostile to the U.S. sending agents and operatives across the border to carry out activities that will threaten our security.
Moreover, the obvious flouting of the law on this important matter by leading public officials serves as a precedent for doing so with other matters in the future. The rule of law — a central principle of republican government — will be seriously compromised.
We, of course, cannot expect that anything significant will be done about all this while Biden is in office. In fact, his Democratic Party’s opportunism is probably behind its embrace of this selective open immigration policy. What they likely have in mind is to let all these people in and move them toward citizenship over a period of years so they will become reliable Democratic voters and keep the party in power — not just at the federal level, but in many states as well — for a long time. I say “selective open immigration policy” because one does not see any desire by them to allow the same open or easy immigration of citizens of European countries.
The illegal immigration situation can only be called chaotic and will require drastic action to clean it up. It will be up to the next elected Republican president to show courage and withstand the inevitable political attacks that he will face to do it. The illegal immigrants are exactly that: illegal. They are lawbreakers, regardless of whether the Biden administration has permitted them to be that.
Something like this is what should be done: That Republican president upon taking office should make a nationwide address instructing all people who are in the country illegally — even those who have overstayed visas — to report to designated locations around the country on certain dates. They will be given comfortable lodging for a few days and then a comfortable plane ride — all paid for by the U.S. government — back to their home cities or towns in their home countries.
The government should track down those who do not come forth voluntarily and round them up and similarly transport them and all their belongings — again, comfortable trips — back to where they came from. It will be more complicated in the case of illegal immigrant families if they have children who were born here, since that would make their children citizens. In this case, policies would have to be developed that would permit them to remain if they met certain conditions.
Also, the border wall has to be completed. While having walls across international borders may not be the most desirable thing, in light of what has been happening it seems to be necessary in this case. Many of the immigrants have been assisted to enter the U.S. by the cartels. It has been a way for the cartels to make money. They have gone on to infiltrate the U.S. to keep after the illegals once they are here to collect that money. The U.S. needs to make arrangements with the Mexican government to go after and finally crush the cartels in their territory.
If the Mexicans won’t go along with it — and it’s said that the cartels have been able to operate partly because of the weakness and corruption of Mexican officials — the U.S. may have to have a limited military intervention to defeat them in Mexican territory.
No one should protest that Catholic teaching stands in the way of what I am proposing. The encyclical Pacem in Terris says that nations have a duty to accept immigrants if their common good permits it. The Catechism says that nations can subject the right to immigrate to various conditions. Also, while the Church says that nations should not be subject to aggression, the right of nonintervention is not absolute — and stopping the cartels would be a moral justification for intervention if Mexico would resist.
The major reason for the illegal immigration is apparently that the migrants are seeking a better economic situation. Even if many or most of the immigrants aren’t impoverished, more money and material well-being beckons. What the U.S. should also do is to encourage and provide incentives to companies headquartered here to establish factories, distribution outlets, and the like in the countries where the immigrants are coming from — primarily Latin America and the Caribbean — and also try to work with their governments to bring about economic development. There may be some role for foreign aid.
They should also put pressure on the leaders of those countries to clean up the corruption that often stands in the way of their economic and other progress.

  • + + (Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears frequently in The Wanderer. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville, co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists, and a lawyer. Among his books are Abortion: Politics, Morality, and the Constitution; Preserving a Good Political Order and a Democratic Republic; The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic; and Catholicism and American Political Ideologies.)
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