Archdiocese of Oklahoma City Opposed Anti-Hispanic Law

Archbishop Eusebius Beltran

I was never more proud to be a Catholic than when my archbishop, Archbishop (now Archbishop Emeritus) Eusebius Beltran and the priest’s council signed this pledge. They were willing to face criminal prosecution for refusing to obey this unjust law which passed the Oklahoma Legislature in 2004. The debate and vote on this bill was one of those times when I hated my job, but was very glad that I was there to fight the losing battle against it.

Archbishop Beltrane also marched with Martin Luther King when he was a young priest in Georgia. He did this at a time when doing so was, as this was, highly controversial, even among Catholics, and downright dangerous.

The Catholic Church has stood with the poor, the downtrodden, the weak, hungry and helpless for 2,000 years.

Anyone who supported this law should be ashamed of themselves.

Here is a copy of the pledge they signed. The emphases are mine.

Archdiocese announces resistance to forthcoming anti-illegal immigration law

Ben Fenwick
October 26th, 2007
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced a pledge to resist House Bill 1804, Oklahoma’s new anti-illegal immigration law due to take effect Nov. 1. Archbishop Eusebius Beltran and members o…

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced a pledge to resist House Bill 1804, Oklahoma’s new anti-illegal immigration law due to take effect Nov. 1.

Archbishop Eusebius Beltran and members of the Council of Priests supporting this statement will present the following signed pledge of resistance to the law to Gov. Brad Henry on Friday, according to the Archdiocese:

“This letter has been authorized and signed in response to the recently approved law HB 1804. This law is fiercely anti-immigrant and does not reflect values that respect people or families.

With the advent of this new law, we unite ourselves in opposition and defiance of this unjust and immoral law. This law makes it a felony to aid, assist or transport any undocumented person in the state of Oklahoma and ‘on violating the provisions of subsections A or B of this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

Our faith teaches us to do good to all people. There is no exemption clause for those persons who do not have documentation of their citizenship status. We will not show partiality against those who are in need of humanitarian assistance. Because this law is overly punitive and makes a felony out of the act of providing humanitarian assistance to an undocumented person in need, we the undersigned clergy, religious leaders and lay people of conscience will not and can not obey this law. We will continue to aid and assist all people regardless of their legal citizenship status, with charitable care and spiritual counsel.

We people of faith and conscience refuse to allow ourselves to be intimidated by Oklahoma’s law which makes those who serve others into felons. To the contrary, as persons of faith, hope and love, we call for the repeal of this anti-immigrant law and for immigration reform that provides justice for all God’s children. We are united in solidarity and in defiance of this law because of our allegiance to a higher law, the love of God and humanity.”

  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    I reckon this an informative as well as a heartening post.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      It was heartening when they took this stand, too.

  • neenergyobserver

    Good for them. I think we need to control our borders and all but, and it’s a huge but, not this way, and besides if you look into it, it’s nearly impossible for Hispanics to immigrate legally. The whole immigration sysytem needs to be overhauled, it’s a scandal waiting to happen.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks for this comment. Personally, I don’t think we can get a handle on the immigration problem without dealing with the problems in Mexico and other places. A lot of this has been caused by our own policies. You’re right in what you say. I’m just adding this to it.

  • Ted Seeber

    I used to struggle on immigration to follow church teaching. But not since racist bills like this began to be passed.

    I may not like illegal employment, or what it does to the wages of the poor. But if faced with somebody who *escaped* from their country and is coming here seeking refuge, then food, clothing, and shelter is the *least* we owe them.

    I feel the same way about the poor who live here already, which is why I was unable to vote for Romney for President.

  • Bill S

    Someone has to challenge the constitutionality of this law. It’s like the Nazis’ reaction to those aiding the Jews. And these senators and representatives probably come across as the nicest, God-fearing, Bible-thumping Christians that you ever want to meet. They wouldn’t last a week in Massachusetts.