The immigration crisis has reached a fevered pitch, and Catholics can no longer ignore its devastating humanitarian, public health, and national security consequences.

The casualties are piling up on both sides of the border. In December 2022 alone, the U.S. Border Patrol encountered over 251,000 migrants.

Drug lords and cartels have made a lucrative business for themselves based on the status quo. Trafficking most affects vulnerable families, especially women and children.

Fentanyl is killing over 100,000 Americans every year, and the majority of it comes in over the unsecured border.
Between October 2022 and January 2023, 38 people on the FBI’s terror watch list were found at the southern border.
The Biden administration isn’t the only guilty party. According to detailed reports from the Heritage Foundation, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Catholic churches and charities, are facilitating the travel of illegal migrants throughout the United States.

The study shows that such organizations “are working in concert with the Biden administration to facilitate the worst border crisis in American history, according to an investigation that examined the movement of 30,000 mobile devices in the United States.”

The memo states:

Overflow from Customs and Border Protection is being transferred to these organizations so that Border Patrol avoids overcrowded facilities… These organizations apply for, and receive, taxpayer money to provide processing and transportation services and infrastructure to facilitate the migration of illegal aliens into the interior of the country.

It’s high time faith-based organization, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), rethink their approach to immigration solutions… especially when it comes to weighing in on public policy.

Catholic social teaching recognizes the authority of states to defend their sovereign borders. Just as a family has a right to its own property and the pursuit of its own good for the sake of the individuals in that family, nations have a right to pursue their own good for the sake of their citizens.

Each human community possesses a common good which permits it to be recognized as such. (CCC 1910)

When a nation ceases to define and defend its borders, it sends the message that the rule of law, and justice itself, no longer matter. There is no longer a meaningful difference between, for example, El Paso, TX, and Ciudad Juarez across the river.

Despite the reasonable moral guidance of Church teaching on the matter, the USCCB recently chose to condemn and lobby against legislation that could have offered a preferential option for legitimate asylum-seekers. Their statement claimed that Congressman Chip Roy’s, R-TX, Border Safety and Security Act of 2023 (H.R. 29) “would sever access to protection for vulnerable persons on the move, including asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, victims of torture, and victims of human trafficking who are fleeing life-threatening situations.”

Mark Morgan, the former Acting Director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, confronted the USCCB’s statement:

H.R. 29 does not prevent migrants from making asylum claims at the border. It provides that to claim asylum, an individual must be detained pending the adjudication of their claim (already required by federal law) or that individual must wait for the adjudication of their claim while in Mexico (explicitly authorized by law).

If the federal government is not capable of doing either, the migrant will be expelled and can claim asylum in Mexico (or any other country). That migrant may also seek protection from persecution under U.S. refugee laws, which have been on the books for decades.

In recent years, the moral implications of the humanitarian crises unfolding at our unsecure border have become unmistakable. Catholic leaders must do better than the platitudes about “welcoming the stranger” and “enlarging our tent” that characterized the immigration statements of previous years.

Given the shocking extent of the crisis – in terms of the suffering of both genuine asylum seekers and innocent American citizens – American lawmakers should prioritize securing the border. Catholic leaders can help with a frank assessment of the ways in which they have allowed themselves to become a part of the status quo’s moral crisis rather than leaders toward its resolution.

“Every religious and ethical code demands that we be charitable and welcoming,” Morgan wrote. “But these same doctrines demand we serve and protect the interests of the societies in which we live.”

Catholic leaders must help craft and support legislation that does both. These measures may include:

Reserving the asylum system for those in need
Requiring the Department of Homeland Security to carry out border enforcement policies
Designating cartels and sex-trafficking rings as Foreign Terrorist Organizations
Implementing migrant protection protocols
Equipping detention centers with funding and protocols to swiftly reunite unaccompanied minors with their families or fast-track them into safe, temporary homes
Closing loopholes in our current immigration system
Let’s rethink immigration… and offer our nation a better way of nourishing her children while welcoming those who wish to join the American family.

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