Pope Benedict’s surprise announcement took the religion world by surprise, consuming the small space for religion news that most people allocate in their brains.

Young people wait in line for assistance with paper work outside Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles.

What’s getting lost? Immigration reform, for one.

Yesterday, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that it will disburse nearly one million dollars toward upcoming immigration reform efforts:

“These grants represent a distinctively Catholic contribution in promoting comprehensive immigration reform. They will strengthen the capacity of our institutions to help immigrant families come out from the shadows and participate more actively in American society,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, California, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ CCHD subcommittee.

Bishop Soto made the announcement March 5, after the members of the CCHD subcommittee determined that swift action by the Catholic community was essential in advancing the recently emerging prospects for immigration reform.

These grants will support efforts to promote immigration reform by Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., an organization founded by the USCCB that supports immigrants’ rights; PICO National Network, a network of faith-based community organizations that works with Catholic parishes across the country; and the Justice for Immigrants Campaign, an initiative of the USCCB that works to educate Catholics on Church teaching about immigration and promote immigration reform.

Also yesterday, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush confused some Republican allies who have promised to work with Democrats on a key provision of immigration reform: a pathway to citizenship.

Jeb Bush greets Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Bush, a Catholic and member of the Knights of Columbus, is mulling a bid for the White House in 2016 and he has urged his party to adopt a more inclusive attitude toward immigration and the Hispanic community. He initially advocated for immigration reform that included provisions for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US to be granted citizenship. Then, in a newly released book he co-authored, he appeared to waver on this issue, writing that the undocumented should be granted residency, but not citizenship. Finally, after some questioning from fellow Republicans, Bush reverted to his original position with an important caveat: the undocumented must plead guilty to entering the US illegally and pay a fine before they are granted citizenship.

Why does this matter? Bush’s brother, George, made remarkable gains with the growing bloc of Hispanic voters in 2000 and 2004. Last year, Gov. Mitt Romney steered the GOP hard-right on immigration and paid for it at the polls, with President Obama getting 71% of the vote compared to Romney’s 27%. (President George W. Bush earned 44% in 2004). As Jeb plots his path for 2016, he and other Republicans will need to walk a fine line on this issue, appealing to the nativist fringe of the GOP to get through primary battles while not alienating Hispanics, who now comprise 10% of the total electorate.

And, increasingly, Evangelicals are joining Catholics and mainline Protestants in calling for a more compassionate and inclusive policy on immigration.

Categories: Politics

Beliefs: , , ,

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O’Loughlin writes about religion and politics from Washington, D.C., paying close attention to the role of the Catholic Church in public life. His writing has appeared in Religion & Politics, the Jesuit magazine America, on BustedHalo.com, and in Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership.


  1. Dave Francis

    You cannot just construct the initial double or triple layer fence as determined under the 2006 Secure Fence Act signed into law by former President Bush. Because it is assumed that somewhere between 40 to 46 percent of people on business trips, visitors and on educational visas overstays don’t return to their home country. As efficient as the 2006 secure fence act would be, some new concept should be used to track overstays. In other countries including Mexico they know whether you have left, once the dated visa runs out. But we only have to study Immigration policies here, to recognize how lapse they are; intentionally voted that way or not? Entering another foreign nation such as Mexico is a Felony, but not here? For first time offenders it’s a loose rap on the hand and deportation and that’s if you can catch them at the border?

    Entering this sovereign country without permission is a simple civil infraction; nothing to deter anybody there? It just encourages more to pour in, which is what big businesses demand. From the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control (IRCA) that was one monolithic travesty, because the laws in place were never enforced. In the last few weeks President Obama and his incredulous Liberal Socialist have found the “Sequester” a good excuse to release unknown numbers of illegal aliens back in the American job market. I assume that entities like the United States Chamber of Commerce, Unions and corporate cash have much to do with dismissing these people into the streets as cheap labor. I firmly deem now that Americans placing trust in decades of the prior elected tenant/lawmakers present and future faces with the majority swearing false oaths to the people, indifferent to the concerns of the people, filling their pockets with special interest favors.

    Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, now serves on the immigration subcommittee in a statement on today:

    “Amnesty is not the answer, but enforcing the laws we already have on the books. Amnesty advocates argue that our immigration system is broken and can only be fixed by legalizing millions of illegal immigrants. But they ignore the real problem plaguing our system today: lack of enforcement of laws already on the books. America has the most generous immigration system in the world, admitting one million legal immigrants every year. There is a right way and a wrong way to enter our country. The right way is to play by the rules and wait your turn, not cut in front of the line and ignore the law. Better border and interior security will benefit American taxpayers and workers and make our communities safer. But even if the border itself is secure, that doesn’t mean that individuals won’t continue to gain legal entry and remain in the country illegally. That happens when those on student, visitor or business visas don’t return home after their short-term visa has expired. They account for 40% of all illegal immigrants, more than four million people. Border security must go hand-in-hand with interior enforcement. Congress can take numerous actions to reduce illegal immigration at the border and inside the country. Some of these merely require that the government enforce existing law:

    Require employers to only hire legal workers. This will reduce the magnet of the easy availability of jobs that entices many to enter illegally. And it will reduce the competition for scarce jobs that hurts legal workers. More than 425,000 employers have signed up voluntarily for E-Verify that ensure that prospective hires are legally authorized to work in the U.S. And 99.5% of legal workers are confirmed immediately. (Gathering dust in Congress is the LEGAL WORKFORCE LAW, H.R. 2885)
    Increase work-site investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to make sure employers are hiring legal workers. This will protect jobs for unemployed or underemployed Americans. Unfortunately, work-site enforcement is down 70% under the Obama administration.
    Implement an entry-exit system using biometrics (such as fingerprints) to identify those who entered on a temporary visa and overstayed their visit. They comprise almost half of all illegal immigrants. This administration has ignored the law requiring them to set up this system.
    Increase border resources and personnel so that fewer illegal immigrants will enter undetected. For every person apprehended today, others escape notice. The Government Accountability Office has determined that only 6.5% of the southern border is under “full control” of the Border Patrol.
    Refuse to issue visas to residents of countries that won’t allow their citizens to be returned home after they have committed crimes in the U.S. Many of these individuals are now released back into our communities where they often commit additional crimes.
    Expand the Secure Communities program, which identifies illegal immigrants who have been arrested for crimes. These offenders should be detained and then sent home, not released. The Obama administration allows some cities to ignore this law.
    Stop giving automatic citizenship to children (BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL, H.R. 140) born to illegal immigrant parents, which represents about 10% of all births in the U.S. today. At least one parent should be in the country legally. Automatic citizenship rewards illegal parents and often tempts them to enter the U.S. just to give birth.

    Even if Congress enacts all these provisions, which still doesn’t guarantee they will be implemented. All laws are useless unless they are enforced. And it’s the president who can choose to enforce or not enforce laws, as we have seen many times. Regardless of what initiatives are taken or what legislation is enacted, the flow of illegal immigrants will never stop. Some foreigners will not want to wait in line, others will take their chances and work illegally, and others will risk using fraudulent documents. What’s more, if current legislative proposals to legalize millions of illegal immigrants are approved, amnesty advocates threaten to file lawsuits delaying enforcement provisions. So the enforcement measures will be tied up in court, but the amnesty provisions will go into effect immediately. The result is amnesty but no enforcement of border security. And as we’ve learned, amnesty without enforcement only leads to more illegal immigration.
    Amnesty advocates promise that they’ll secure the border and enforce our laws once they get what they want — legalization of those in the country illegally. We’ve heard those promises in the past — and they were never kept. We should not reward those who have broken our laws with amnesty. Even if we did, there is no guarantee that the border or interior would become more secure. “

    Any person who believes America is turning into a thirds world country, should sign a petition against the Gang of Eight’s proposal who are in opposition to 23 million unemployed Americans at: NumberUSA You can also contact every Representative demanding no Amnesty and no Path to Citizenship at 202) 224-3121, the general Washington switchboard. YOU–THE CITIZEN VOTER HAS MORE PERSUASION OVER CONGRESS, THAN YOU REALIZE.

  2. Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY White country and ONLY into White countries.
    The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

    Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY White country and ONLY White countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-Whites.

    What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-Blacks were brought into EVERY Black country and ONLY into Black countries?

    How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

    And how long would it take any sane Black man to notice this and what kind of psycho Black man wouldn’t object to this?

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the White race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

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