Another Christian Duty is Criminalized

Another Christian Duty is Criminalized June 12, 2012

Harboring the harborless.

You don’t hear about this one nearly as much because a) it’s not about sex and b) it not only not useful to talk radio ginning up conservative Catholics to support the GOP, it is c) actually contrary to popular (and delusional) conservative dogmas about rounding up and deporting 11 million people. Still and all, it is an attempt by Caesar to compel Christians to violate their consciences just as much as the evil HHS mandate is.

The state is welcome to try to keep their paperwork in order. But the Church has a duty to welcome the alien, the orphan, and the widow and the needs of bureaucrats does not trump that.

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  • I’d say another reason you don’t heat about it is that this struggle doesn’t fit the narrative of “old while celibate bishops who can’t be bothered to get rid of pedophile priests obsessing over sex” that the media tends to fit stories about Catholics into.

    • Claire

      Right. If bishops are busy making sure that Christian charity is extended to the hungry, the homeless, the friendless, the least of these, then how on earth will they have time to wage War on Women?

  • B.E. Ward

    Might as well get this out of the way…

    Send(Combox autoReply, ’42’);

    Combox Auto-reply #42:

    ______ (Blogger name here), I read your blogs frequently and usually agree with your assessment. However, on this matter you’re venturing out of your area of expertise. We have a duty to protect our borders from ______ (adversary here). God wills it.


    _______ (your name here)

  • ChrisB

    Do you believe that Catholics have a duty to support Open Borders policies?

    • Ted Seeber

      I for one do not. HOWEVER, having said that, I believe it is *every Catholic’s duty* to feed, clothe, and shelter the needy *regardless* of what the person has done. That goes for everybody- right up to and including a mass murderer.

      I also believe the most effective thing we could do about the problems with immigration, would be to make e-verify both Mandatory and Debugged, with *massive* fines for non-compliance up to and including exile of American Citizens for hiring illegally. Give a man food clothing and shelter if he needs it, but don’t abuse him and profit from his labor.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    No. Policies, whether Open Border or Iron Curtain, are Caesar’s business. Where Catholics have a duty is to succor the distressed.
    Full disclosure: the grandmother of YOS’s grandfather was born in the USA because her parents slipped across Lake Champlain from Canada in the first year of the Great Hunger a few days before her birth. The Protestant Nation was not too thrilled, and formed the American (“Know Nothing”) Party to keep the Irish and Germans out and/or in second-class status.

    • ChrisB

      YOS: I sort of know what you mean. A few years ago, a boatload of illegal would-be immigrants from China was intercepted near my city, and the authorities held them in a military base for a couple of months before deporting most of them. I think that was the right policy for the government to follow, but if I’d come across one those migrants on the run, I would have wanted to help them. I’ve never been sure if this feeling was just squishiness on my part.

      “Policies, whether Open Border or Iron Curtain, are Caesar’s business.” Are you perhaps overstating the position? Does the Church really have no preference about whether countries allow normal freedom of movement or set up barbed-wire fences with land-mined death zones along all their borders? Favouring one policy over the other is surely compatible with conceding the state’s ultimate right to be the decider.

      BTW, I’m a big of your internet comments, but feel perfectly free to trash mine!

      • Ted Seeber

        I am of two minds on the subject of “Does the Church really have no preference about whether countries allow normal freedom of movement or set up barbed-wire fences with land-mined death zones along all their borders?”

        The first, is the obvious church teaching: The Right to Life is so absolute that people need the right to migrate when life is threatened by politics, natural disaster, or economics.

        The second is that my favored form of economics *requires* that such migrants bring almost nothing with them; and that their possessions are stripped at the borders, in favor of “goods should be produced as close to the consumer as possible” thus destroying economy of scale and providing more dignified work for everybody.

        Like with everything else- though my mind is more with the second, Right to Life trumps EVERYTHING.

        • Ted Seeber

          Making me write that post eliminated the last subject in my mind where I was dissenting from Mother Church. Thank you.

  • Kirt Higdon

    Ron Paul, in one of his books, praises the Catholic Church for its aid to immigrants, a position which did not exactly endear him with certain segments of the political right.

  • Observer

    “Render to caesar what [rightfully belongs] to caesar. And render to the father what [rightfully belongs] to the Father.” I’m paraphrasing Christ of course.

    Charity does not oppose the law (especially of the land.) To misconstrue the law to the effect which feeding, clothing, and sheltering someone who has broken the law (emphasis is broken – past tense) has no bounds on the simple act of taking care of another person. Remember, God endowed, self-evident, and unalienable? Furthermore, one has to ask the question: “Are there other crimes which the person could commit far worse than entering into the country unlawfully?” The answer would be yes. Should someone not only enter into the country unlawfully; yet commit injury, the ending of someone’s life, stealing, and other heinouos crimes would be committing something far worse than entering the land without following laws for proper comformity for which the laws are written.

    The univeral expression by feeding, clothing, and sheltering (and even taking them to their church) one’s neighbor from having to fall into the gambit of despair leading to stealing, ending another person’s life, and dealing into the poisons of an underground promiscouos culture. The real step, thus and through it all, is to assist the person to lawfully and appropriately earn their citizenship.

  • Mark Hartman

    Just because someone is here illegally does not mean that they should live without basic human needs. Yes, they should go home, unless going home would place them in clear and present danger. But I also believe that we need both a reevaluation of who should be admitted to the USA (with less of an emphasis on quotas, and more of an emphasis on suitability) and, afterwards, stricter enforcement of safeguards against illegal aliens. And, while these people are here, it IS our Christian duty to make sure that they have at least basic human needs. (And yes, I’m a conservative.)

    • ChrisB

      Serious, though, who is in favour of letting illegal migrants starve? The harshest anti-immigrationists only want to deport them; they’ll give them food and shelter in the mean time.

      Though the Chinese would-be immigrants I mentioned eventually rioted when they got sick of the Chinese take-out food they were being fed. No joke!

  • kevin

    it’s a sin to oppose illegal immigration. evil.

  • Ted Seeber

    This is right up there with arresting people for Feeding the Hungry:

    Or more recently and closer to home for me, the homeless outreach ministry helping a mother with three children under the age of five because daddy got arrested for shoplifting diapers for the baby and has been sent to jail for six years, causing the family to become homeless.

    • ChrisB

      Who could object to feeding the hungry? Me! That’s who! At least when it’s done by these guys.

      The issue seems to be whether the authorities can legitimately regulate activities in city parks. Read this:

      Arrest documents state that Orlando Food Not Bombs received permits and fed more than 25 homeless people at Lake Eola Park on May 18 and 23. Coleman said the group rejected the permits.

      These guys are presumably anarchists of some sort, provoking the authorities as a piece of political pageantry. I doubt they have history of working on homeless issues. Furthermore, I doubt any of the people they fed are likely to go hungry as result of their very sporadic operation being shut down. As far as I know, free meals are available in virtually every sizable North American city.

      • Ted Seeber

        They were just an easy story to point to; just about everybody I know who actually feeds the homeless where they live on the streets, has gotten hassled in some way by the cops for it. The solution in Portland is to invest in Sisters of the Road Cafe Meal Coupons and Trimet Tickets instead of food- which also gets the homeless off the streets for an hour or two (Sisters of the Road Cafe gets away with it by having a restaurant license).

        But I would find it interesting that the same people who don’t like regulation in the financial markets and call taxation theft by force, are perfectly fine with regulating homeless ministries and using force against THEM.

  • caroline

    I wish the Church would just get on with it and declare out right that it favors open immigration. Calling for changes in immigration law doesn’t work. A law by definition excludes someone who will then try to come illegally and we are back to the same situation of exclusion and being driven by conscience not to enforce the law.

    • ChrisB

      In some circles, support for open immigration is regarded as a VIP pass to the moral high ground, but I disagree. I’m not a huge fan of Milton Friedman, but I can’t fault the logic of his famous proposition: In the long run, you can have open immigration or you can have a welfare state, but you cannot have both. If, like me, you see the welfare state as a vital component* of the humane social order that Western countries built over the 19th and 20th centuries, then you can’t support immigration unreservedly. It has to be balanced with other goods.

      *That’s not to say that social welfare programs as currently implemented have no flaws.

    • Ted Seeber

      Like ChrisB said, but from a slightly different standpoint: It is hard to have both Solidarity and Subsidiarity without some form of small community tribalism. That doesn’t mean that you mistreat those who cross your borders, but it DOES mean that you need borders to begin with.

  • Perhaps we shouldn’t have a nation that amounts to almost one third of a continent. Might we not be better served (from the standpoints not only of subsidiarity and democratic rule, but also of individual liberty) by having a true federation of individual states, wherein the role of the federal government was largely limited to the protection of the federation and its members against aggression from outside the federation?

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

    • Ted Seeber

      I certainly agree with that, Keith the Martial Artist, which is why I’ve been known to advocate for Cascadia Separatism from time to time (though, I guess, that would just turn a third of a continent into a sixth).

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Might we not be better served (from the standpoints not only of subsidiarity and democratic rule, but also of individual liberty) by having a true federation of individual states, wherein the role of the federal government was largely limited to the protection of the federation and its members against aggression from outside the federation?

      Oh, if only there were such a country, with some sort of set of laws that make it clear that this is the intent of said country. We could call it a con-stee-too-shun or something.

      • Ted Seeber

        Actually, we called it the Articles of Confederation, and the rich replaced it with the Constitution because they got tired of people escaping their debts by crossing state borders and having to pay 1000% tariffs when crossing the border between New York and New Jersey. 🙂 Thus reducing individual freedom and state sovereignty for everybody, and thanks to Article I Sections 8 & 10, and Article VI, as well as the utterly inadequate and unenforced Tenth Amendment, the federal government now has a complete socialistic monopoly on the money supply, and thus, the market.

  • Kirt Higdon

    I’ve interacted with immigrants all of my adult life, sponsoring some, financially aiding others, writing letters of recommendation for others, hiring others. I never felt in any of these cases that I was performing a work of mercy, rather that I was adding immeasurably to the quality of my life. Many of these people are still among my closest friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom and fellow aliens in this temporary world. At present, I still interact with immigrants on almost a daily basis, but few of them need my assistance. If this is open borders, bring it on. I can’t get enough of these people.

    • PJM

      I hope you don’t mean illegal aliens, otherwise you are breaking the law as well.

      • Kirt Higdon

        I don’t know who was or was not illegal since I didn’t ask for papers. As far as breaking the law is concerned, I’ve been fined and briefly jailed for blockading abortion mills and the governor of my state thinks I should be in prison (maybe Guantanamo) for material support of terrorism because I’ve contributed to the Gaza flotillas. No biggee.

        • PJM

          Not asking for papers doesn’t absolve you legally or morally as an employer. Illegaly blocking access to abortion mills only hurts the pro-life cause in the long run. Similar to Live Action intentionally deceiving PP in order to entrap them.

    • Ted Seeber

      A work of mercy *should* add to your own quality of life.

      • PJM

        It’s hardly a corporal work of mercy to assist those in continuing to break the law. In fact, our spiritual works of mercy (admonish the sinner) should compel us to encourage them to return to their homeland and immigrate legally.

  • PJM

    So, who knew that state laws prohibiting the harboring of criminals would be an infringement on freedom of religion. As if the Catholic Church’s credibility in America in recent years hasn’t been strained enough, now this? Maybe just maybe,if the bishops hadn’t been so focused on distorting the social justice mission of the Church in recent decades, and been more focused on actually teaching the faith and saving souls (you know, the Church’s primary mission) we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now.

    • ivan_the_mad

      No, evangelization and social justice aren’t either/or, they’re both/and. And yes, a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion would constitute and infringement of religious freedom.

    • Ted Seeber

      “So, who knew that state laws prohibiting the harboring of criminals would be an infringement on freedom of religion”

      Yes it is, especially the fine old Catholic tradition of SANCTUARY.

      • PJM

        Illegal aliens do not meet the standards for traditional sanctuary.

    • Mark Shea

      And another cafeteria conservative is heard from.

      • PJM

        Ad hominem attacks don’t contribute anything to discussions.

        • Mark Shea

          People really need to learn what “ad hominem” means. “You are ugly, therefore your argument is invalid” is ad hominem. “In discussions of Catholic teaching, you pick and choose from Church teaching, therefore your argument is invalid” is not ad hominem.

          • PJM

            You’ve attemped to defame my character as a practicing Catholic (and in the process try to discredit my argument) by writing a falsehood about me. That is most definitely a form of an ad hominem attack.

            • Mark Shea

              No. I have not tried to defame your character any more than you attempted to defame mine. I have stated that I regard your argument as cafeteria Catholicism. I do not claim to have any knowledge of why you adopt such an argument, and therefore have nothing to say about your character. For all I know, you take a cafeteria approach in good conscience. I simply disagree with taking a cafeteria approach.

  • Elaine S.

    Being present in the U.S. without proper immigration documentation is NOT a “crime” in federal law. It is a civil offense. There is a significant difference between the two. Merely being an illegal immigrant (without having committed any OTHER crime such as fraud in the meantime) is NOT a crime for which one can be indicted, tried and imprisoned, like murder or rape. The maximum possible penalty is deportation. Therefore, illegal immigrants are not “criminals” by definition. There are many actions in federal and state law that are against the law but are not crimes — the worst that can happen to you is that you get sued or ordered by a court to do or not do something, and if you disobey that order, you may be arrested or jailed for contempt of court.
    That said, there has got to be some kind of happy medium between completely open borders and immediate deportation of every single illegal/undocumented immigrant. Part of the problem is that LEGAL immigration has been made extremely difficult for most foreigners other than those in particularly desirable employment fields like medicine and engineering. I suggest that closing or tightening up border security and deportation of illegals who have committed genunine crimes (e.g. drug trafficking, organized identity theft or fraud) be combined with policies making LEGAL immigration easier, and with a means for illegals who have not committed any other offenses to eventually become citizens (aka “amnesty”). Having strict laws but not enforcing them, or enforcing them selectively, is no way to cultivate respect for law.

    • PJM

      Illegal entry into the United States is a federal crime. Section 1325 in Title 8 of the United States Code, “Improper entry of alien”, provides for a fine, imprisonment, or both for any immigrant who:
      1. enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration agents, or
      2. eludes examination or inspection by immigration agents, or
      3. attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact.
      The maximum prison term is 6 months for the first offense and 2 years for any subsequent offense. In addition to the above criminal fines and penalties, civil fines may also be imposed.

      I do agree with you that the immigration process should be more streamlined, but amnesty is not the answer. This has proven in the past to only encourage more illegal activity, and is completely unjust to those legal immigrants who are properly abiding by U.S. laws to become citizens. I would suggest that illegals be offered a one year window of opportunity to become documented workers (such as through an e-verification system), so they can be tracked, pay taxes and for their protection as well. Otherwise, they will be subject to strict laws on imprisonment and removal (btw, deportation is the wrong term, you cannot deport someone who is not a citizen to begin with). Obviously, politics continues to prohibit solutions like this.

    • Sal

      How is being an illegal immigrant NOT fraud? Never understood that one.

      • Ted Seeber

        It absolutely is. *But it is a Christian’s duty to feed, clothe and house a murderer* and fraud is a lot less of a crime.

  • Ted Seeber

    This conversation has entirely flip/flopped my thinking on this.

    1. Yes, being an illegal immigrant is, gasp, illegal. It is a crime.
    2. Being a refugee should not be a crime- it is as much a pro-life issue as abortion is.
    3. Refugees deserve food, clothing, and shelter and recognition by society for their legal status.
    4. Refugees do NOT automatically deserve assimilation into society and jobs.
    5. The Church is correct when it says we should be welcoming to the Refugee, and we should work to make the refugee legal if they aren’t, and we should also respect the law of the land as it stands.
    6. Employers *should* be required to use E-Verify. Only if every employer is using E-Verify do we stand a half a chance of detecting collisions on the database and eliminating fraud from the system (right now, a common form of fraud that is present in the database is multiple individuals geographically separated using the same social security or taxpayer identification number). Those need to be flagged, and eliminated, and both employer and employee given a chance to rectify the situation.
    7. Employers that refuse to use E-Verify, need to be looked at as being as criminal as the illegal immigrants they exploit. There really is no excuse for this sin. Harbor the refugee, that is your Christian duty, but don’t make a profit off of him.
    8. Given modern multiple-terabyte database systems, there is absolutely no excuse for any legal immigrant coming from a country covered by Interpol to NOT be given a visa and a green card in 30 days or less. The third world is harder due to corruption in governments and a lack of technology, but there’s almost no reason to refuse regularization of paperwork to anybody who has been in the United States for more than 3 years.