Immigration and Christian Charity

S. Williams has posted a couple of comments on my last post, and my response is too long to fit as a comment. So here goes:

S. Williams,

I’m not even sure where to start. Yours is the perfect example of why St. Paul condemns “party spirit” on his list of mortal sins of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. The danger, to paraphrase Lady Julia in Brideshead Revisited is in “setting up a rival good to God.” In other words, instead of judging good and bad based upon Catholicism, you’ve done it based upon the tenets of the GOP. And doing so has caused you to act in a way unbecoming to a Catholic.

First, this is the first time any commenter here has accused me of being a “liberal social justice Catholic.” While you can’t fully be a Catholic without being a “social justice Catholic” (at least to some extent), had you troubled yourself to read any other post on this blog, you’d realize you were flying off half-cocked.

Second, rejecting the Arizona law doesn’t mean someone automatically embraces amnesty. Had you troubled yourself to read even this post, you’d see that the argument was about whether there were better ways to meet the state’s legitimate interests.

Third, and related to the last point, you can justify any evil by comparing it to some opposite hypothetical evil. Sure, the Arizona bill may be bad, but at least it’s not amnesty; sure, amnesty may be bad, but at least it isn’t genocide, etc. If the best you can come up with if ad hominem attacks and attacks on straw man positions which no one in the conversation is taking, rethink your views.

Fourth, the people (made in the image of God) who we’re talking about are immigrants, not invaders. Here are google’s top definitions of immigrant (“a person who has come to live in a country from some other country”) and invader (“soldiers who are invading a country“). Your term is a hyper-charged and completely inaccurate term to attempt to demonize immigrants as enemies rather than those we owe charity.

Fifth, the Biblical injunction to charity isn’t premised upon one’s legal status in the country, since US law isn’t superior to the Bible. If someone overstays their work visa, we as Catholics don’t stop loving them and start treating them as invaders the next day. Every single source you’ve cited is political, not Biblical, because what you’re suggesting is just unchristian.

Sixth, since you’re getting all of your news from one party, you’ve lost all touch with the actual reality of the situations you’re talking about. Some things to consider:

  • Which Democrats are pushing for amnesty? They’ve got both houses and the presidency. If they wanted amnesty, they could have gotten it while they had their super-majority (or, you know, still). I challenge you to cite a single Democrat in Congress pushing for immediate amnesty, as you claim.
  • Which Democrats or Catholic Bishops are advocating Alinsky’s policies? Can you point to a single example of a Catholic Bishop engaging in Alinsky-style tactics? (I don’t mean here simply supporting social justice groups which are hyper-liberal in ways we don’t agree with; not every grassroots movement is “Alinsky-style”)
  • What percentage of immigrants are actually gang members v. productive workers in the economy? I’d cite you here to Julian Simon’s ground-breaking 1979 analysis, The Economic Effects of Immigration. In it, he explained that since most immigrants are young, healthy, and unable to apply for social services, they provide an enormous boon to the economy at a low cost (this is, after all, labor unions’ arguments against them). Although his study is now 30 years old, the fundamental dynamics are correct. So rather than destroying US culture, it’s been incredibly vital. Same goes for US Catholic culture, particularly given the fact that Latin Catholics tend to be more devout than their Anglo counterparts.

Seventh, did you seriously suggest that supporting amnesty is equal to or worse than child-rape? That’s just crazy. It’s just shocking that you’ve become so influenced by political forces to no longer be able to tell evil which cries out to God for vengeance (child rape) from possibly misguided charity towards our neighbor (immigration policies you don’t like). Christ warns those who corrupt the dignity of children it would be better to have a millstone tied around their neck, and be hurled into the ocean. That is, it would be better to die gasping helplessly for air while you’re slowly and painfully killed in the depths of the sea than to find yourself facing the Wrath of God for child-rape. In comparison, the Bible’s view on caring for immigrants is something like 180 degrees opposed to this image and your own views.

And finally, you owe Erin an apology. You were rude and condescending. You need to remember that behind the veil of the Internet are real human beings — your brothers and sisters in Christ — and allowing party spirit to lead you to tear into them like this is disgraceful.



  1. Amen, Joe. SW does bring up some fair arguments, his problem is that he will never ever get through to anyone that way. It’s the same on both sides of the spectrum.

    I wouldn’t have allowed it on my blog. Even what I wrote earlier on the other post is borderline in my own eyes LOL It’s a topic near to me and if you check around, I rarely ever comment on any blogs at all, don’t know why I did here, probably because I like your thought process.

    Your two weak points here are #4 and #6(c).

    At what point does it become invasion to you?


    Either you look at people as economic units or you don’t. Catholics don’t. If you look at them as eco-units this way, it’s fair game for someone else to use them as eco-units another way. It’s dehumanizing, regardless if you think they are positive economic units. You can’t use this argument, it’s pointless to the Catholic view. Besides, economy has little to do with culture.

  2. Thanks, Christopher! I appreciate your comments, both here and the original post, and don’t think you were anywhere near “borderline.” I want this to be a source of authentic and charitable dialogue, so I’ve tried to keep comments as open as possible (allowing anonymous comments, not deleting any – so far – etc.). And I know that both sides have their share of people who get a little rhetorically overheated: Cardinal Mahony went for the cheap Nazi and Communist comparisons in denouncing the Arizona law, doing nobody any favors.

    As for the specific points you raised,
    (4) I don’t think immigration ever becomes an invasion. It’s a difference of kind, not degree. The first Iraqi soldier to cross into Kuwait was an invader. The hundreds of thousands fleeing Sudan into Chad aren’t. So if the Mexican military crosses to conquer the US, we’ve got an invasion. Until then, we just have a massive influx of immigrants.

    (6c) Amen. I agree with you that immigration based on the promise of cheap labor is just as dehumanizing and unchristian as seeing all immigrants as evil invaders. But I mention the economic contributions of immigrants here in specific response to S. Williams’ idea that immigrants were appropriately considered gang members who posed an unsustainable “burden on the welfare costs” in border states who were the front line troops in Obama’s plan to “destroy the white middle-class and its pro-capital system.”

    Of course, that assertion is facially crazy. It’s also uncharitable: there’s a Thomist belief that you should always assume that even those you disagree with act in the name of the perceived good: that is, that in most circumstances (barring knowledge to the contrary), even evil is done out of a misguided pursuit of good. But beyond that, it’s just factually illogical. Since immigrants en toto provide more to the economy than they consume, adding more healthy working-age individuals would be a counterproductive way to hurt the economy.

    As an aside, I think that Simon’s findings (and all of those who’ve found similar things after him) are helpful in one other narrow regard: the legitimate state interest besides national security is financial stability. That is, even charity is bounded by what’s feasible – no one is morally tasked with solving global poverty. So this is one factor in determining that feasibility level.

    All that said, I still agree with your fundamental point. The fact that increased immigration is (on the whole) a financial boon doesn’t mean we should view immigrants (or anyone) as mere economic units. So I’m glad you brought this up — hopefully, the comment will serve to sufficiently clarify what I meant.

  3. You purposely misstated my points and accused me of absurdities based on erroneous assumptions and “google”. It is apparent to me that your opinion is all that counts here and that you do not welcome facts and research. You are typical of liberalism that attacks those with whom they do not agree and do so with lies and distortions. And then you demand that I apologize after you attack me as un-Christian.

    Do some research. I will never consider reading your biased commentary again let alone commenting. Maybe when you learn what true argument is about you might be ready for a meaningful dialogue.

    Oh so un-Catholic of me. Bwaaa!

    The Protestants are so much smarter and welcoming.

    Attack me all you want – I won’t be reading.

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