The new archbishop’s press conference

The new archbishop’s press conference September 27, 2014

According to the Tribune (sorry, paywall), the incoming Bishop Blase Cupich identified “immigration reform as chief among the issues to tackle here.”

“These people pay taxes, they contribute to the common good … it is a matter of making sure we can give them legal status,” he said.

This is a disappointment.

Maybe it’s a hot topic in Spokane due to farmworkers.  Their local paper paraphrases him as saying,

 It would help the country better account for people living within its borders, provide stability for families and help businesses, such as farm and orchard owners, who employ thousands of immigrant workers, he said.

But immigration policies are set at the federal level and are a matter of our democratically-elected leaders making decisions about how fast our country should grow via immigration, whether we should prioritize the high-skilled or the unskilled, whether it helps or hurts the economy to have large numbers of new low-wage workers, and so on.  Yes, of course, there’s the question of what to do with those who have already immigrated here, and how respond to the fact our government has, like it or not, tacitly accepted this by failure to enforce laws, and the open announcements of political leaders that their presence in the US is just fine, but the bigger picture is that this isn’t a moral issue, but a policy issue.

The United States has no moral obligation to open its borders to Mexico, and for the U.S. bishops to continue to push this feels like crass politics on their part, lobbying not for the so-called “common good” for the benefit of Mexican immigrants who they perceive of as their constituency.

This is Chicago.  Rather than becoming a political lobbyist, Cupich ought to turn his attention to the social problems that Chicago faces — the gun violence, the family disintegration — where churches can actually make a difference as churches rather than trying to become just another political action group.

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