Dr. Jeff Mirus exercised his intellectual muscle by knocking down a strawman:
Whenever the USCCB dares to advocate policies which provide for easier immigration and naturalization (e.g., here), a few of our readers shout an argument which I devoutly hope never again to hear from anyone claiming to be Catholic: “We don’t owe illegals anything!”That depends on what you mean by not owing them anything. Of course we owe them the decency and charity we would afford to any other human being. Of course they ought to be able to receive the sacraments. Of course they should not be subject to violence, theft, or other forms of abuse that law abiding citizens would not inflict upon one another. We are not the gods of our own backyard where we are free to do anything or nothing to those who are within it either invited or uninvited. It does not follow that we owe illegal aliens goods and services which, in justice, should be provided first to our fellow citizens and neighbors. If a father neglected the care and feeding of his own children in order to provide those resources to strangers, we would say that he is a bad father.
There are two false assumptions here. First, there is the assumption that those who have come earlier rather than later to a particular region, and have established a government over the region, and have developed a kind of society in that region, somehow have an exclusive claim to that region as their own. This is typically applied self-servingly; it is rarely upheld for peoples who may have occupied a territory prior to “us”. But in any case, the idea that one group of people can morally set a broad region to be off limits to other groups of people is absurd.It's no more absurd than setting the region known as my home as off limits to strangers. If private property does not include the right to exclude uninvited strangers, then the notion of private property is meaningless. Illegal immigration is just as much a form of trespassing as the burglar who breaks into my home to make off with my property. The Church absolutely provide corporal works of mercy to those who are in need, but if the diverse youths of MS13 broke into the local parish food locker, I'd bet dollars to pesos that Dr. Mirus would call the police.
The reason why States exist in the first place is to provide for the common good. To be sure this breaks down in practice more often than not. Any law which the State promulgates which is contrary to either the law of God or the common good can and ought to be resisted.
Where would such a moral right come from? Our God-given understanding of the universal destination of goods is sufficient to demonstrate its falsity. To the contrary, the Catholic Church has consistently (and rightly) affirmed that people have a right to migrate for good and constructive purposes, including the effort to increase their prosperity and provide better for their families. Such a right cannot be restricted without very good reason. Such reasons would include demonstrated evil intentions on the part of immigrants, or some other particular, severe and direct danger to the common good.
We must recognize that states, boundaries, and governments are mere conventions. They do not arise from moral truths; rather, they are bound by them. The right of migration, for a moral purpose and in a moral manner, is prior to the State, and prior to citizenship, just like the right to life, the right to marry, the right to raise a family.
The Catholic Church has also affirmed the right of States and peoples to craft their own immigration policies. Dr. Mirus accuses immigration restrictionists of having a blind spot, but I wonder if he himself has an Ellis Island sized blind spot of his own. Japan allows almost no immigration, and those who few who take up permanent residence there find it damned near impossible to become citizens even if they marry and have children there. To my knowledge, the Japanese Conference of Catholic bishops does not regularly issue jeremiads against these policies.
There is certainly room for both custom and convention in handling immigration; they may shape but not obliterate fundamental rights. Nearly all our readers can see at once that the State’s enactments to protect and facilitate abortion have not a shred of authority to make abortion moral, or to compel us to obey such laws on moral grounds. Given this perception, it continues to astonish me that so many cannot see what is equally obvious, that a State’s claim to have sole charge over comings and goings in a vast territory does not create a moral argument against migration, and cannot compel us to obey such laws on moral grounds, either for emigration or for immigration.Dr. Mirus speaks frequently of the human right of migration but fails to address the corresponding obligation. If we have an inalienable right to migrate then that creates an obligation for someone else to accept us. If I choose to migrate to Dr. Mirus's home, does he have an obligation to accept my taking up residence with him? He may allow me to stay with him out of Christian charity, but he is in no way obligated to take me in. What if I bring my entire extended family with me? There comes a point where Dr. Mirus's resources would be stretched too thin to take care of all of us.
A related observation is that the financial benefits provided by government to citizens, and their possible extension to those who have not yet fulfilled the conventions of citizenship, create a separate question which must be settled prudently. I cannot address that pragmatic question here, so I will simply state the obvious: One of the idiocies of a nanny state is that it creates dependent citizens, and then this unnatural state of dependency is used as an excuse for being unable to “afford” immigrants. Sometimes, our own conventions tend to pile up and lock us within false dichotomies. When this happens, we take for granted errors which undermine morality.He'll get no argument from me on the idiocy of the nanny state, but I think it's a compelling argument. Unlimited immigration and the welfare state are incompatible, particularly when the unlimited immigration lopsidedly consists of Mexicans who lack even a high school education.
Dr. Mirus also speaks much of the State but doesn't make the distinction between the State and the Nation. Nations have unique characters, peoples, histories, and cultures. The peoples of the different nations have the right to preserve their national character and culture. Multiculturalism and diversity are, in practice, a sort of cultural genocide. In the United States we encourage ethnic and racial minorities to celebrate and retain their cultural characters. I would ask that they extend the same courtesy to white Americans, but everyone already knows that's unspeakable crimethought.
I don't mean to attribute bad faith to the US bishops, but it's indisputable that the Catholic Church in the US would be on the road to extinction if it weren't for illegal aliens. The constant influx of illegals props up our sagging numbers in baptisms, confirmations, and Mass attendance. Again, to be clear, illegals should be treated with the same charity we would treat other strangers in our midst. But that doesn't mean the USCCB or laymen like Dr. Mirus should get away with shaming us into accepting a divisive solution to what is ultimately a prudential question.