They are Trespassing!

They are Trespassing! May 20, 2010

“They are trespassing,” says the woman who wants to abort her child. “My body, might absolute right to control what happens to it, my right to decide how I am to use it. The child has no right to use it, to steal nourishment from me, to be a lazy, good for nothing freeloader within my body!”

“They are trespassing,” says those who want to engage police-state tactics on unregulated migrants in the United States. “This is our border, this is our land, it is our absolute right to control what happens to it, to decide how it is to be used. The migrant has no right to use it, to take from its resources, to be lazy, good for nothing freeloaders within our land.”

It’s the same debate.

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  • Andy

    It’s the same debate.

    Except that, you know, it’s legal for one party to KILL the trespasser, and not the other.

    Try again with the moral equivalency.

    • Andy — it’s the same debate, trying to turn a relative authority into absolute. And I’ve heard people say illegals should be free game, because they are trespassers.

  • Phillip

    As you point out, there is no absolute right to private property. There is also no absolute right to immigrate as the state may regulate such. There is the right for the innocent not to be killed. I think there is moral equivalency here.

    • There is an absolute right for human dignity to be given to all. What we see is a desire for a police state tactic, the kind which the US once said made the USSR the “evil empire.”

  • Phillip

    That of course has nothing to do with the actual law. There is no elevation of AZ to a police state in the image of the USSR. And human dignity also extends to those in AZ who have made a prudential judgment on how to enforce federal and state laws. It also extends to those who, according to Catholic Social teaching, note that in this case the state is acting appropriately to limit immigration. Calumny is against human dignity.

    • It certainly has to do with the actual law, and what it requires of the police. It requires a more proactive investigation and search, and gives far more discretionary powers in order to do it. Police states always talk about defense and security. That’s exactly what is being used for this police state. Prudential judgments which require the use of intrinsic evils are not acceptable.

  • Phillip

    It seems that the law limits police to determining immigration status after a legal stop has been made (that is for other valid reasons) and not merely a random roundup of profiled individuals.

  • Phillip

    At this point I might refer to Kurt’s words of wisdom from a post below:

    ‘However, while I am not going to set aside my own analysis on a topic within my own professional field, I am willing to admit those with a contrary analysis may be sincere, even if I cannot agree with them.

    The issue I have is that such courtesy is not returned by some on the other side — probably a minority but a very loud minority. And while I can probably live with even strident attacks from that minority, what I have the most problem with is when it extends to attacks on my Catholic faith and the faith of others…”

  • Phillip

    Don’t notice where Blackadder referred to AZ as a police state though. Also others with expertise in such matters disagree.

    • Look to what he points out as wrong with the law; look very close. He doesn’t say the words, he describes the state itself.

  • Phillip

    I’ll let him pronounce if he thinks this allows AZ to be a police state. There are others in the comments section that offer quite balanced and reasoned dissert from BA’s position. Something that is, well, quite consistent with Catholic Social Teaching.

  • Phillip

    Oh yes I’ve read quite thoroughly CST on migrants. Including your post and its source from JP II. Note that JP II does say that “Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants.” Let’s just emphasize for argument the first part however, illegal immigration should be prevented. Part of CST.

    • Yes, it should be prevented — but how it should be prevented is important, and must be in accord with the dignity of the human person. And if someone is already an “illegal immigrant,” he also makes it clear work must be done to help them to be regulated, not deported. There is much more here; ignoring the whole for a part of the whole, and using that part to go against the rest of the whole, is how heresy and sin are promoted.

  • Phillip

    Actually he does note that they can be deported:

    “4. When no solution is foreseen, these same institutions should direct those they are helping, perhaps also providing them with material assistance, either to seek acceptance in other countries, or to return to their own country.”

    • Phillip

      That doesn’t say “deportation” but help to get them back to their home land (or another land); the key is “help.” It’s more than just sending back.

  • Phillip

    Actually the phrase is “direct” those they are “helping” back to their country. So instead of deporting we direct back to their country. That term still works to say that people who are here illegally do not necessarily have the right to stay.

    • The issue is to help them back to their country; what is it which made them leave it? Find out and help them to deal with it. It is not good to just direct Jews back to Hitler without first making sure they will not be put to death. Of course, that is exactly the point.

  • Phillip

    That is perhaps your argument. But CST does again allow the state to set limits on immigration and to “direct” people back to their country of origin if they are here illegally. I suspect the Church took into account that such imperfect solutions would apply. And that states that applied them would not therefore be police states.

    • Phillip

      Once again, CST does not give the state absolute rights to do anything it wants with immigration and borders, and consistently points out that the dignity of the human person and their needs, if they are in need, transcend the state’s authority. Hence, back during the time of the USSR, the USSR also had authority to regulate migration outside of the state; but the Church also accepted illegal immigrants OUT of the USSR. They broke the law of the USSR to leave. The US approved of such illegal migrants, too, which shows how the US also understood that border authority was limited.

  • Phillip

    That of course was a state that was seeking to keep people in. And again CST does not teach that a state must take all that come. We of course can argue this all day. The long and short of it is that people have a right to migrate but that is not an absolute right as states do have a right to limit that immigration and “direct” those there illegally back to their home country. Your argument that the US is not respecting people in need is in fact contradicted by the fact the about 15% of the US population is foreign born – either here legally or illegally. The US is in fact allowing immigration – only setting limits.
    I will leave you now as I have a very busy afternoon. The bottom line is again the accusation that there is an equivalency between those who argue for abortion and those who argue for some form of limit to immigration and enforcement of that limit is false. CST clearly allows limits and enforcement of those limits even in the face of the needs of others. People in good faith can disagree and still not hae their faith called into question.

  • I disagree. I think there are some similar philosophical and cultural underpinnings, but on the level of intentions, emotions, reflection, etc. I don’t think women in tough situations think in the way you characterize them above. Perhaps some of the activist types in the pro-choice movement would think like the person in your post, though. On the other hand, proponents of fierce immigration law are driven by fear or even hatred of the other, racism, etc., as reflected in your post. That is dead on.

    • Michael I

      I am not saying these are the only arguments people from either side makes — the issue of “tough situations” is different from the general explanation for the pro-choice position, and it is the general position which I am commenting upon. I’ve heard what I expressed here many times by pro-choice advocates, that a woman has absolute control over their body, no one can tell them what to do with it, and the embryo is an invader (of one fashion or another) which is why it can be expelled. Obviously, not everyone who argues for specific cases argue in this way. And what I am trying to bring out is that this kind of disposition, which is rejected by many Catholics, is accepted when dealing with the “body of the state.”

  • Well this is definitely a stretch. But I suppose you are just practicing your vocation of blurring the differences between ideas. This may serve your larger philosophical project, but it does not help people trying to understand the immigration debate or the abortion debate.

    • Zach

      Define the differences. Explain what differentiates them. I find the foundations are the same — and both develop out of the claims of classical liberalism.

  • grega

    “I don’t think women in tough situations think in the way you characterize them above. ”
    Thanks Michael so true – It is rather instructive to see us males discussing these issues forth and back in comment boxes such as this one without a single female voice adding a much needed perspective-
    during my involvement with student parlaments back in germany our group once decided to establish a rule that during group discussion women and men had to take turns talking – amazing how much that cut down on male pontificating.
    Fact is majority opinion in the western democracies very much view Abortions as perfectly morally acceptable in case of incest, rape and for medical reasons.
    Furthermore it seems that most countries – catholics very much included – established the according legal framework. I find the internet chest pounding by folks with zero kids or rather controlled small families or folks well outside the childbearing years rather unconvincing.
    Particular unconvincing is the american variation of folks who are perfectly happy to make life miserable for the one major predominantly catholic population groups with healthy family size and structure – our mexican brothers and sisters. You know I would not be surprised at all if quite a few of those that scream the loudest have plenty of dark corners in their own closet.
    Certainly one does have to look no further than the average family size to realize that lots of management is going on.

  • How could it be the same debate if the child in the womb is there because of a freely chosen act on the part of the pregnant woman who was aware of the possible consequences of that choice(assuming the pregnancy is not the result of rape) — in effect, the child was invited by the intrinsic meaning of the act, even if the invitation was not consciously intended and insincere — but the person crossing the border of a country illegal is most definitely not doing so by invitation? Indeed, how can the child in the womb trespass if he or she never did, in fact, cross a border, but simply began his or her existence where he or she was conceived?

    The analogy is totally absurd, and used unwisely, is as likely to produce moral indifference to abortion as it is to produce a moral repugnance of deportation (which is not murder, and therefore not analogous to abortion for heaven’s sake)!

  • Adrian

    Is it the right thing to do?
    For both abortion and immigration, the answer is no. It is not right to kill or to persecute the innocent.
    I think that the only reason that immigration is an issue now is because America has a fear-based state of mind. We are afraid of the “other” and instead of concentrating on real problems (energy, education, transportation infrastructure), we consume ourselves with trivial ones.
    Which of us really wants to pick fruit and wash toilets for very little money? This is the reason most of the immigrants working in our country are here, because we have jobs that we would prefer not to do and we don’t want to pay Americans more money to perform. I find the hypocrisy in both camps that support abortion and immigration nauseating.

  • Dan

    I agree with Michael and Grega. I don’t see at all how this is the same debate. You can make a comparison between any two things if you stretch and distort one of them sufficiently that it takes on the appearance of the other.

    I very much doubt that many women who support abortion do so because they think the kid is a good-for-nothing freeloader who is infringing on their bodies.

    One is a context of violation of boundaries. The other is a context of denial of personhood. Those are two fundamentally different arguments.

    • Dan

      The violation of “boundaries” is used as a means to denigrate the dignity of the human person. The boundaries are “my womb” or “this plot of land.”

  • digbydolben

    Michael, it may not be the same “debate” but I agree with Adrian, above, that the same KINDS OF PEOPLE are persecuting the “illegal immigrants” and tolerating–even enabling–abortion, i.e. selfish people and morally and intellectually LAZY people, who don’t want to wrestle with the REAL issues that are diminishing human life in this culture.

  • Andreas

    We must prevent illegal immigration, by legalizing the illegals.

  • Dan

    The violation of “boundaries” is used as a means to denigrate the dignity of the human person. The boundaries are “my womb” or “this plot of land.”

    I understand your thesis, but I fundamentally disagree with your premises. If they were accurate representations of reality, then I would say this argument holds water. However, I don’t think the vast majority of abortion supporters do so because they see a woman’s womb as a boundary that a child somehow infringes upon. Therefore, the similarity you’re trying to draw is nothing more than a straw man. I apologize for being so blunt, but I can think of no other way to say it.

    • Dan

      I’ve seen such claims made many times by women who support abortion.

  • Dan

    “They are trespassing,” says the American Indian whose land is being annexed by the government. “This is our farm, this is our land, it is our absolute right to control what happens to it, to decide how it is to be used. The migrant has no right to use it, to take from its resources, to be lazy, good for nothing freeloaders within our land.”

    Same argument?

  • Dan

    I’ve seen such claims made many times by women who support abortion.

    I question the accuracy of this statement. My guess is that they probably made a statement along the lines of “a woman should have control over her body”, which you extrapolated into equivalence with your premise above. There is a fairly wide spectrum between this position and the extreme one you’re arguing against, which I’m confident is only held by the most extreme of abortion supporters. It is not a representation of typical reality.

  • Dan

    To clarify – I’m not trying to accuse you of intentional fallacy. I am certain of your sincerity. So please don’t take it the wrong way.

    Regardless of the degree that your statement above is valid, I am certain that it represents a minute portion of abortion supporters, and should not be seen as the general case in the abortion debate.

    • Dan

      How many pro-choice people have you talked to? The argument is about their body, their right to control their body, and their discussion of the fetus as an outsider/invader. It’s very common.

  • Kathryn

    While I do see these as analogous issues, I’m not sure why it is important to call attention here.

    Very little seems to be said about the relationship between either example of a temporary occupant and it’s positive effects on the host system it resides within.

    This brought to mind more questions.

    Do we acknowledge that both examples of temporary residents have very different end goals?

    The end goal of a developing child is to leave the host system, but an immigrant has the goal of becoming a part of the host system.

    Is imperative expulsion prior to completing the end goals at all comparable? (Some of you did speak to this above.)

    If we believe that it is, why do we consistently fail to render support and thought towards the successful culmination of both goals?

    What about the consequences to either participant when spontaneous failure to complete the goal occurs? Are these comparable?

    What positive and negative affects does this have on the host system?

    When a woman thinks only of the negatives of a given pregnancy it weighs heavily on her. The negatives are very present, for many considering an unplanned pregnancy they loom like a shadow. The positives of completing the course of the pregnancy are not nearly as available or tangible.

    I think that illegal immigrants have much more tangible benefits simply included in their presence.

  • Henry,

    How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you spout such nonsense? It is possible for someone to be against killing little kids and simultaneously accepting of the idea of secular nations having borders.