But first We must speak of man’s rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. (encyclical letter Pacem in Terris, §11)
By July 1990, then [three months before I accepted Catholic teaching and wished to be received], I believed Catholicism had the best moral theology of any Christian body, and greatly respected its sense of community, devotion, and contemplation.
Moral theology and intangible mystical elements began the ball of conversion rolling for me, and increasingly rang true deep within my soul; . . .
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2241) provides a brief summary as to what the Church thinks of illegal immigration:
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.One can be compassionate regarding the plight of an illegal immigrant who is looking for a better life, but that doesn’t mean that they should be encouraged to break existing laws or to avoid all the usual penalties for same. If there is a law passed granting amnesty (such as with those who avoided the draft in the Vietnam era) then that would be a matter of new law. But that is the way to go about it: by the rule of law, not by non-enforcement of existing laws, and confused, contradictory, and (merely) politically-soaked policy, as we have today.[ . . . ]
The 2003 document, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope” — from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, states:
39. The Church recognizes the right of a sovereign state to control its borders in furtherance of the common good. It also recognizes the right of human persons to migrate so that they can realize their God-given rights. These teachings complement each other. While the sovereign state may impose reasonable limits on immigration, the common good is not served when the basic human rights of the individual are violated. . . .
78. As explained above, the Catholic Church recognizes the right and responsibility of sovereign nations to control their borders and to ensure the security interests of their citizens. Therefore, we accept the legitimate role of the U.S. and Mexican governments in intercepting undocumented migrants who attempt to travel through or cross into one of the two countries. We do not accept, however, some of the policies and tactics that our governments have employed to meet this shared responsibility.
[ . . . ]The consistent theme in Catholic documents is compassion for the immigrant (legal or illegal), while acknowledging the validity of immigration laws. Hence, Pope [St.] John Paul II, in his message, “Undocumented Migrants” (7-25-95), stated:*Migration is assuming the features of a social emergency, above all because of the increase in illegal migrants which, despite the current restrictions, it seems impossible to halt. . . . Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants. . . . Thus it is important to help illegal migrants to complete the necessary administrative papers to obtain a residence permit. Social and charitable institutions can make contact with the authorities in order to seek appropriate, lawful solutions to various cases.*I think that the Church has shown great wisdom in this issue, as always. The sublime moral theology of the Church was the first thing that drew me in, back in 1990. I’ve never seen anyone or any other institution with the consistently thoughtful, deep, wise reasoning that the Church always provides on socio-political issues such as this one.
Pope John Paul II, message for World Migration Day, 2000.
(Catholic Priest) Cites Church Stand Against Illegal Immigration (Dexter Duggan, The Wanderer, 04/22/2010)
Solving illegal immigration requires fixing economic causes, stresses Bishop Wester (Catholic News Agency, 6-4-10)
Migration laws must respect national sovereignty and individual rights, Pope urges (Catholic News Agency, 5-28-10)
Immigration reform is not amnesty, Bishop Wester says about bishops’ position (Catholic News Agency, 5-9-10)
Arizona immigration law shows need for reform, Archbishop Chaput writes (Catholic News Agency, 5-4-10)Archbishop Dolan calls Arizona illegal immigrant law ‘harmful’ (Catholic News Agency, 4-28-10)
US bishops oppose ‘draconian’ Arizona immigration law (Catholic News Agency, 4-28-10)
U.S. Bishops begin push for ‘humane and comprehensive’ solution to immigration issues (Catholic News Agency, 1-7-10)
Illegal Immigration and Catholic Social Teaching, Fr. Thomas Berg (Catholic News Agency, 5-18-10)
[see also other related articles mentioned as further links in the sidebars of all these CNA articles]
I reiterate that all of this expressed opinion has been on my blog for almost nine years now. But that idealistically presupposes (heaven help me to stop being an idealist in such a cynical world) that a person who claims to be accurately conveying my opinions (as opposed to inventing fantasy short stories having no relation whatever to my true views) would spend five minutes reading a relevant paper of mine.
No one does that anymore, when it comes to these hot-button topics like illegal immigration. And not only this; I have also written a great deal on the topic, and have debated it with those of a more liberal or leftish bent (one of them a fairly well-known “new pro-life” figure):
It’s highlighted now, of course, only because the President is a Republican. Illegal immigrants dying is something that has been going on all along. Bleeding-heart liberals (who supposedly care so much about such things and such people: so much more than conservatives: so they constantly inform us, yet will not help do anything about it, to stop the carnage and colossal human tragedy) virtually ignored it when it was happening under President Obama’s watch. Breitbart News wrote about it twenty times during those years (as it noted on 26 June 2019 — complete with links to all twenty articles), but “no one cared.” Here’s an excerpt:
During the Obama-Biden administration, 535 migrants died in one Texas county alone — Brooks County. The county is located about 80 miles north of the Texas-Mexico border and is home to the Falfurrias Border Patrol Checkpoint on U.S. Highway 281.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is averaging approximately 7,000 deportations per month from the U.S. interior, according to the agency’s latest data. [84,000 in a year] . . .*At its peak, ICE deported more than 400,000 immigrants during the entire 2012 fiscal year, and more than half of those were border-crossers who could be quickly sent home. [4.8 times more than Trump is deporting now]
Proverbs 26:4-5 (RSV) Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.
So let’s consider briefly a Catholic’s (and American’s) responsibility to an unhealthy or dehydrated illegal immigrant who has crossed into our country. Do we medically treat him or her? Of course we do: this is Catholic (and broadly Christian ) teaching, and in fact, this is what routinely happens in fact. It’s US policy now, and has been all along, regardless of who holds power in Washington.
But do we have a moral obligation to offer free health care to this person the rest of his or her life (and at taxpayers’ expense)? No. This is a very different question (and, I submit, what the meme was driving at). The person has entered illegally, and as we have seen, the Catholic Church agrees that countries can enforce immigration laws; so the first thing to be dealt with (after necessary medical care) is determining legality, and possibly deporting the person.
In summary, then, no one (who is compassionate — even including us wicked, cruel, heartless conservatives) is wishing for anyone to die or suffer: least of all because of no medical care on this side of the border. We have to do two things: treat sick people and prevent illegal immigration, including deporting those here now. So we treat the sick illegal immigrant and then (if we follow the rule of law) we send them out of the country with instructions on how to enter legally. But as to the DACA dreamers (yet another and distinct sub-issue), I (along with 69% of Republicans) am in favor of letting them stay, as I wrote about in September 2017.