What Does the Church Teach About Immigration and Border Walls?
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It’s no secret that United States President Donald Trump is planning to implement stricter immigration policies during his term. One large emphasis of his campaign was his intent to build a wall along the United States-Mexican border. He has, in his fifth full day in office, signed a presidential directive concerning said border wall, and may also issue a block on all incoming visas from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
How does the Catholic Church feel about immigration, refugees, and border walls? We have a few resources that will help you grow in your understanding of Catholic Social teaching.
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1. We start with the first principle that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God.
Use the Catechism to help you grow in your understanding of the Church’s stance on both the dignity of the human person and immigration.
“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
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.”
2. A Message from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website offers a variety of resources to help us grow in our understanding of this issue. You can find an in-depth study of the three fundamental principles that are used when discussing immigration: “1.) People have the right to migrate to sustain their lives and the lives of their families. 2) A country has the right to regulate its borders and to control migration. 3) A country must regulate its borders with justice and mercy.”
3.) Wisdom from the Saints
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The Saints can be our example in how to respond and pray through these issues. The book Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to the Changing World by Brandon Vogt provides more insight into various saints’ teachings and how they lived out their beliefs.
You can find selected quotes from encyclicals specific to immigration teaching from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or you can find a list of encyclicals that address this issue and read through them in their entirety here.
5. Thoughts from Contemporary Theologians
6. Example of our Current Pope
“In our time, migration is growing worldwide. Refugees and people fleeing from their homes challenge individuals and communities, and their traditional ways of life; at times they upset the cultural and social horizons which they encounter. Increasingly, the victims of violence and poverty, leaving their homelands, are exploited by human traffickers during their journey towards the dream of a better future. If they survive the abuses and hardships of the journey, they then have to face latent suspicions and fear. In the end, they frequently encounter a lack of clear and practical policies regulating the acceptance of migrants and providing for short or long term programmes of integration respectful of the rights and duties of all. Today, more than in the past, the Gospel of mercy troubles our consciences, prevents us from taking the suffering of others for granted, and points out way of responding which, grounded in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, find practical expression in works of spiritual and corporal mercy.” – Pope Francis
7. Biblical Teaching
Take time to study the Word of God and pray through the Scriptures. There is often no clear-cut or easy solution to the problems that our World faces. As with all matters pertaining to life, to human suffering and flourishing, we are called to discern, study and pray in order to decide what is the right course of action.