.- In recent column, Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon spoke on the controversial topic of immigration, saying that although a nation has the âdutyâ to protect its borders, âremaining in a country illegallyâ does not eliminate a person's human dignity, nor his or her right to be treated âas a brother or sister.â
On Thursday, Bishop Vasa framed his Catholic Sentinel article with a clarification on humans rights and the law in regard to immigration policies. âJust because something is 'legal,'â he explained, âdoes not mean that it is morally correct.â
âThere are any number of examples from our own history and the histories of other nations where something 'legal' was grossly immoral and needed to be resisted,â the bishop noted. âI am not suggesting that the American 'immigration policy' is immoral but there seem to be some elements of injustice that permeate it and it is this injustice, whether legally sanctioned or not, the Church opposes.â
Though the prelate stressed that a country has the âright and duty to properly police its borders,â once illegal immigrants have crossed them, the Church is charged with the task of providing the same care for them.
If undocumented workers are âhere and in distress then the church will provide comfort, solace and perhaps even sanctuary because that is what the church does,â he asserted.
âThere may be some of this that is technically 'illegal,'â Bishop Vasa added, âbut splitting up a family or sending a family-wage earner back to Mexico where he can no longer provide for his family is not in accord with what we are to do as members of a church.â
âIt is not consistent with the dignity of human persons.â
Although there âis a form of injustice done to the American people when our borders are not respected,â he clarified, âthere is also a possibility that a grave injustice could be done to an undocumented worker if too harsh a solution is enacted.â
Bishop Vasa underlined that although it is easy to identify all undocumented workers as âcriminals,â this fails to distinguish between those who are here âpeacefully and productivelyâ versus those who are here for âcriminal pursuits.â
âIt is certainly not right for anyone to violate or seek to circumvent the immigration laws of this nation but unless we know all of the reasons and factors that led a person to the decision to come to this country or to remain illegally, I suggest that it is very dangerous for us to judge that person as a 'criminal'.â
The Oregon prelate then observed that âthinking about real, identifiable people, concrete human persons and human families, makes it much easier to see that those who cross our borders or remain here illegally are not necessarily evil or wicked men or women but simply people with human aspirations and longings and dignity.â
âCrossing a border illegally does not eliminate that personâs right to be treated as a brother or sister,â he concluded. âRemaining in this country illegally does not eliminate that personâs human dignity.â