.- Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan has criticized Arizona legislation targeting illegal immigrants as âmean-spiritedâ and âcounterproductive and harmful.â Viewing the measure as a manifestation of historic American nativism, he said immigrants should be welcomed and their legalization and citizenship should be advanced.
Writing in an April 27 entry on his blog âThe Gospel in the Digital Age,â Archbishop Dolan said at times of social turmoil the immigrant âunfailingly becomes the scapegoat.â
He then listed what he described as âperiodic spasmsâ of anti-immigrant âfeverâ: the Nativists of the 1840s who led mobs to torch Irish homes and Catholic churches; the Know-Nothings of the 1850s; the American Protective Association of the late 19th century who feared the arrival of immigrants from Italy, Poland, and Germany; the Ku Klux Klan who fomented hate against blacks, Jews, Catholics and foreigners; and the eugenics movement.
He also listed the Protestants and Other Americans United group of the 1950s who were âapprehensive about Catholic immigrants and their grandkids upsetting the religious and cultural concord of America.â
âAnd, here we go again!â Archbishop Dolan continued. âArizona is so scared, apparently, and so convinced that the #1 threat to society today is the immigrant that it has passed a mean-spirited bill of doubtful constitutionality that has as its intention the expulsion of the immigrant.â
According to the archbishop, history teaches that ânot only are such narrow-minded moves unfair and usually unconstitutional, but they are counterproductive and harmful.â
Claiming the anti-immigrant sentiment is not dominant, he pointed to another sentiment of the country, âone of welcome and embrace to the immigrant.â
He noted that New Yorkers look out at the Statue of Liberty, whose âtorch of welcomeâ has caused joy to millions of their immigrant ancestors.
This ethos is especially a part of Catholic culture, which he described as âa spiritual mother to immigrants in America.â
Archbishop Dolan also argued that welcoming immigrants is known to be good for the economy and beneficial for society.
The âbright, noble sideâ of the American character is âto welcome the immigrant, to work hard for their legalization and citizenship, to help them feel at home, to treat them as neighbors and allies in the greatest project of human rights and ethnic and religious harmony in history.â
âTo blame them, stalk them, outlaw them, harass them, and consider them outsiders is unbiblical, inhumane, and un-American,â he charged.
Acknowledging the duty of every society to protect its borders, he said this must be done âjustly, sanely and civilly.â
âMy brother bishops in Arizona worry this is not the case there. They have been joined by Cardinal Roger Mahony, Jewish, other Christians, and various civic and human rights groups.â
âIâm on their side,â he concluded, describing this as the âStatue of Libertyâ side, not the âNativistâ one.