There is a political storm brewing in Washington, D.C., that will eventually turn into a destructive hurricane. While various multinational corporations, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are pushing for a change in our laws to allow foreigners to bypass our current federal immigration system, the typical American taxpayer is outraged by the prospect of millions of additional foreigners being allowed to come into our country. Despite federal prohibitions, many of these foreigners will also be allowed to receive free food stamps, medical care, and a publicly funded education.
While most Americans would agree that eventually there needs to be a legal solution put into place to allow for the otherwise law-abiding foreigners who are currently in our country to remain here, those same Americans are furious that foreigners are still being allowed to illegally invade our country.
While there are approximately 320 million people in the United States, there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who would drop everything and move to our country if they knew they could get in and stay. How many of these foreigners are we morally obligated to let in? One million? Fifty million? A hundred million? One billion? Who’s going to determine what the “humane” number is?
Last week, I wrote about a principle that holds that there are no simple solutions to complex problems. Complex problems can be solved only by complex solutions. Our broken immigration system is an extremely complex problem that requires an extremely complex solution.
While I agree that we may need to modify our laws to allow for a path to citizenship for the illegal foreigners who are currently in our country (and do not have a criminal record), before we take any action, we need to first secure our southern border so no additional foreigners are allowed to illegally enter our country.
So here’s a question I have for my fellow Catholics: Does our rich history of more than 2,000 years as a church provide us with any guidance as to how we should be dealing with our current immigration problem?
While illegal immigration may be a modern-day problem, there is some historical precedent within the Catholic Church that we can turn to for guidance. More than 700 years ago, one of the greatest intellectual giants of all time, St. Thomas Aquinas, discussed the topic of immigration in his masterpiece, The Summa Theologica. The Summa was written by St. Thomas over a period of nine years — from 1265 to 1274.
In his favorable discussion of how the Jewish people dealt with immigration, St. Thomas wrote, “Man’s relations with foreigners are twofold: peaceful and hostile … for the Jews were offered three opportunities of peaceful relations with foreigners. First, when foreigners passed through their land as travelers. Second, when they came to dwell in their land as newcomers … and third, when any foreigners wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. With regard to these, a certain order was observed. For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations.”
St. Thomas continued, “The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in their midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.”
St. Thomas placed an emphasis on two factors that must be considered when applying laws concerning immigration: (1) the unity of a nation and (2) the common good of the nation. It was St. Thomas’s position that a nation must have as its goal the integration and assimilation of immigrants who will share in the common good and strive to unify the nation.
Right now, instead of welcoming new citizens who we know will become a part of our national family, we are allowing unknown foreign individuals and families to break into our country and assume the benefits of our school system, our health care system, and the multitude of welfare programs that are currently available to American citizens.
Even though we don’t know anything about these foreigners, we’re allowing them to overwhelm and cripple our institutions while reaping huge personal and financial benefits.
While I have lost faith in our political leaders, I have not lost faith in our fellow Americans. I am confident that the American public will eventually rise up and demand that a fence be built from San Diego to the Gulf of Mexico. This will be just a beginning.
The task of stopping foreigners from figuring out innovative ways to cross our border is a complex problem that will require the building and maintaining of over 700 miles of fence, and the use of drones, helicopters, trucks, high-speed power boats, high-tech monitoring equipment, and highly trained manpower to operate all the systems.
We’re also going to have to figure out how to prevent foreigners from tunneling their way into our country. Earlier this year, during the Israeli-Gaza conflict, the Israelis discovered more than 50 human tunnels underneath a border fence that was only 37 miles long.
We have a complex problem on our hands. It’s time that we force our leaders to grow up and handle the situation like the intelligent adults they claim to be.