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Border Deaths Bring Hard Truths Home

July 8, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


On Saturday June 22, Austin Bishop Joe Vasquez issued an unremarkable statement reaffirming Catholic teaching. While bishops oppose President Trump’s policies regarding deportation of illegal aliens, he said, “We recognize the right of nations to control their borders in a just and proportionate manner…we should focus on the root causes in Central America that have compelled so many to leave their homes in search of safety.”
Simple, right? Well, the dissident left went nuts. One Catholic college theologian tweeted: “This is worse than saying nothing.” Another mocked Vasquez’s citing the Catechism, saying it “fails to meet the urgency and prophetic call” of the moment.
But what misdeed had Vasquez committed? As Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, he had simply restated the Catechism’s paragraph 2241.2, which states: “Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”
Why the ruckus? Well, the left hates this passage. And so do many bishops. In fact, it’s so unpopular that Vasquez’s own staff has removed it from the USCCB’s website, leaving only the obligation of “more prosperous nations . . . to welcome the foreigner.”
Many bishops harbor a deep resentment against the U.S. and its “nativism” and “xenophobia.” They often display rank contempt for the law, and routinely encourage illegals to break it (Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso made quite a spectacle of leading a group of illegals across the border last week. Wanderer readers will recall that Seitz calls supporters of the rule of law “Pharisees”).

A Tragic Death? Politicize It

Thousands of Hispanics desiring to live in the United States sign on with trafficking cartel gangs to get them here. Last month, when Salvadorans Oscar Martinez, his wife Tania and their 23-month-old daughter Valeria got to the border, the Associated Press reported that they were “unable to present themselves” to the U.S. consulate in Matamoros, Mexico (across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas).
The AP didn’t report that the family got tired of waiting in line. Instead, they decided to swim the river. According to the account of Mrs. Martinez, little Victoria got scared and jumped in the river. Her father jumped in to save her, and they both drowned. Journalists quickly ignored all norms of decency and sent a picture of their bodies around the world, and the desired result ensued.
Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s response was typical. “Those families seeking asylum are often fleeing extreme violence,” she wrote. It’s “inhumane” to send them home. Fellow candidate Cory Booker, a pro-abortion Catholic, added, “These [deaths] are the consequences of Donald Trump’s inhumane and immoral immigration policy.”
But the Martinez family tells a different story. The AP quoted Oscar Martinez’s mother, Rosa Ramirez, in El Salvador. “I begged them not to go, but he wanted to scrape together money to build a home,” Ramirez said. “They hoped to be there a few years and save up for the house.”
Finally, the facts. The family was not “fleeing extreme violence.” Rather, they intended to return home as soon as they had saved enough dollars in the U.S. to pay for a nice house in El Salvador.
Like millions of other Hispanics coming to the U.S., legal and illegal, the Martinez family were economic migrants, ineligible for asylum under international and U.S. law. The family’s tragedy reflects some little-known aspects of the illegal immigration problem that our bishops take pains to ignore.
First, families like theirs have to pay Coyotes over $5000 per person to get them to the U.S., risking assault, robbery, rape, even death on the journey. Second, the Coyotes tell them they have a much better chance of getting into the U.S. if they bring a child with them. That’s why Mr. Martinez subjected his daughter to the harrowing dangers that every migrant faces while transiting through Mexico.
Third, when Hispanics arrive here successfully, they don’t spend the majority of their earnings in the U.S. Like Oscar Martinez, they want to go home, and they send their money there, augmenting their income here with taxpayer-funded welfare programs, as well as by living as cheaply as possible.
The results are frankly stunning. Throughout Central America, entire towns are built with dollars sent home from the U.S. In Guatemala, some 40 percent of the population — six million people — live on “remesas” — “remissions” sent home by family members in the U.S.

What? Political Bishops?
Say It Isn’t So!

Responding to the Martinez deaths on June 26, USCCB President Daniel Cardinal DiNardo joined Bishop Vásquez in a statement. “This image cries to heaven for justice. This image silences politics. Who can look on this picture and not see the results of the failures of all of us to find a humane and just solution to the immigration crisis?”
Of course, they read it wrong. The image ignited politics as few have in recent years, most of it contrived and often pompous. Pro-abortion Catholic presidential candidate Robert Francis (“Beto”) O’Rourke of El Paso, a friend of Bishop Seitz, said simply, “Trump is responsible for these deaths” (he failed to note that it was Mexican firemen who discovered the bodies — in Mexico).
El Salvador President Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele disagreed with O’Rourke. He accepted the blame for the Martinez’s deaths. “People don’t flee their homes because they want to, people flee their homes because they feel they have to,” Bukele told the BBC. “Why? Because they don’t have a job, because they are being threatened by gangs, because they don’t have basic things like water, education, health.”
Moreover, El Salvador is a corrupt country. Last year, Bukele’s predecessor was sentenced to ten years in prison for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars.

An Unholy Alliance

Three disparate groups — Democrats, criminal Coyotes, and America’s Catholic bishops — benefit from illegal immigration. Thus, they encourage families like Martinez to make the harrowing trip in spite of the risks.
Many women and children traveling in the immigrant “caravans” are assaulted, even raped, often by the same traffickers they’ve paid for safe passage. Yet no Democrat, Coyote, or bishop says, “Stay safe! Stay home!”
Why not?
Well, Democrats know that Hispanics in the U.S. vote for Democrats. That’s no surprise. They come from corrupt countries, and, as Thomas Sowell observes, they bring their culture with them. They will vote for the corrupt party here that offers them the generous welfare programs they could never get at home.
Coyotes make billions a year from migrants, and often piggy-back their lucrative drug- and sex-trafficking operations with the caravans.
And our bishops? They won’t talk about it, but their NGOs caring for migrants have received millions in taxpayer funding, especially under Obama. Not only is Trump a threat to their federal incomes, but voluntary donations are tanking as well because of the abuse-and-coverup scandals that never seem to end.
And then there are the empty pews. Some fifty million Catholics have left the Church since Vatican II. Hispanics constitute some fifty percent of the U.S. Catholic population, and the figure is rising. Officially branding “most” whites as “racists,” bishops embrace the vision of Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez. The likely next president of the USCCB, Gomez foresees a “Next America” that will be better than the one we have because it will be Hispanic.
For a brief moment, Bishop Vasquez told the truth: The U.S. has the right to control its borders, and, like President Bukele, we need to address the “root causes in Central America,” instead of blaming America first.
Alas, the moment of truth didn’t last very long.

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