June 26, 2012
Migration is rational
By Deacon Patrick Moynihan *

By Deacon Patrick Moynihan *

“Time Magazine” hit the stands last week with an intentionally provocative cover, picturing people from around the world with the caption “We are Americans – Just not legally.” I appreciate the sentiment and de facto reality of this statement. However, the impact of the cover and the corresponding article by Jose Antonio Vargas, may not be all that constructive. Both are a bit too menacing to move the immigration debate in a positive direction. 

It is no surprise that TIME is stirring the melting pot rather than settling the tempest. Besides their interest in selling magazines, the immigration debate has an inherent tendency to devolve into either xenophobic, hyperbolic doom-saying, or myopic accusations of injustice. Due to the confluence of legal, moral and economic issues involved – not to mention the politics of a campaign year – immigration rarely seems to get the positive, rational treatment it deserves.

At the center of the debate are four flashpoints: first, there is the question of the law. Some would prefer that the immigration debate focus entirely on the “illegality” of entering or staying in a country without legal permission. No matter how hard-hearted or a-historical this is, these hardliners are adamant that the law alone should dictate the fate of the un-documented.

The second boiling point counters the above. Immigration advocates vehemently argue that undocumented immigrants come to the US to find work and better lives. They point out that immigrants are net contributors to society. They question why, especially given our culture, we would want to criminalize the pursuit of a better life. Obviously, this group gets a lot of behind the scenes support from factory operators.

The two remaining emotionally charged discussions involve undocumented adults who entered the US without status as children with their parents, and children born in the US to an undocumented parent or parents. Debates on these cases also beg tough questions. Should children suffer for the sins of their fathers? Should families be separated? Should a 30 year old undocumented immigrant, who has lived, worked and paid taxes in the US for most of their life, be deported?

Thankfully, President Obama has decided the answer to these questions is no, at least for those brought here as children. We can only hope for an equally positive decision in favor of keeping families together in the case of the estimated 4 million citizen children born to undocumented parents. Breaking up families and sending home constructive aspiring citizens makes no sense.

Immigration is a difficult topic because it sits at the crossroad of order and justice. But, if we are serious about discussing it rationally, we need to remove the heat of the moment. We must strive to see migration as the constant drive of humans to manifest their full potential, not as a political issue. We need to see migration for what it is – the well-trodden path of human advancement.

Migration has always been a positive event for our country. Beyond the ingenuity and workforce that has been provided by each new wave of immigrants, we have gained the pride of being the country that takes in the world’s tired, poor masses and transforms them into an economic powerhouse. This makes supporting the right to migrate to work not only morally correct and economically smart, but overtly patriotic.

What needs to be avoided is the segregation and xenophobia that we have seen of late in France. To date, the US has succeeded in this. However, we should be concerned given the rising tension around the nation. A June 18th Washington Post article describing the impact of Alabama’s tightened immigration laws on the local industry and Mexican community of Albertsville was peppered with words likes upheaval, confusion, and fear. The President’s decision, while also politically expedient, shows he knows when to release pressure. But, it comes down to us, the common citizen, to remain reasonable and civil.

Borders have a purpose and immigration must occur in an orderly fashion. However, to act as if a country can reach a point where migration is no longer a positive ignores both the reality of declining birthrates in developed nations and history itself. Absolute borders, which are what gigantic barrier fences suggest, are neither tenable nor morally defensible. A country cannot simply shut itself off from the world. That’s just not rational while migration is.

Deacon Patrick Moynihan graduated Culver Military Academy in 1983, from Brown University with BA in Sanskrit and Classics in 1987, and from Providence College with an MA in Religious Studies [Theology] in 1999.

He taught Latin and English in a Catholic High School from 1987 to 1990, traded commodities, futures and options for an international trading company from 1990 to 1995 and directed a free Catholic mission school in Haiti for academically gifted children from the poorest areas around Port au Prince from 1996 to 2006.

Deacon Moynihan was ordained in October of 2001 as a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Rockford [IL] where he was the director of formation and later the Office for the Permanent Diaconate from 2001 to 2006. He has since gone back to Haiti and is currently the president of The Haitian Project.
« Previous entry     Back to index     Next entry »
Ads by Google
(What's this?)
blog comments powered by Disqus


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: