Monday, October 20, 2008

Bishop Wenski on Immigration Policy

Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando has a guest column in the Washington Post today on the dearth of federal debate and action on the immigration issue, excerpt:

"As the presidential election heads into its final days, the issue of immigration remains largely unaddressed. It was not examined during the debates and is not high on either candidate's list of talking points. Congress has left the issue on the table. Sadly, this congressional reluctance has created a policy vacuum that has widened America's political divisions and left us with an inconsistent, ineffective and, in many cases, inhumane national policy.

The failure of comprehensive immigration reform last year, when Congress bowed to a vocal minority, unleashed a torrent of initiatives designed to demonstrate that the U.S. government can enforce our laws and secure our borders. In truth, intermittent work site raids, increased local law enforcement involvement and the creation of a wall along parts of our southern border, among other efforts, have done little to address the challenges presented by illegal immigration. . .

. . .To many elected officials, immigration has become the new "third rail" of American politics. Refraining from addressing this pressing domestic issue, however, will elevate tensions in states and localities, further alienate immigrants and their communities, and tacitly affirm the acceptance of a hidden and permanent underclass in our country."

Turn on the radio here in Missouri and candidates for state-level races boast how tough they are on an issue that is fundamentally outside their jurisdiction. Missouri definitely can be counted as among the states where an absence of comprehensive federal immigration reform has led to elevated tensions.

A dramatic demonstration of this can be seen in this year's Missouri Catholic Conference candidate survey for state-level offices. The conference asks whether the candidate supports or opposes a simple statement of common sense and established consitutional law - "Immigration laws and policies should be determined by the federal government and not the state of Missouri." That statement loses 67-61 among candidates who responded.

It's worth reading all of Bishop Wenski's article. Also check back on Archbishop Gomez' excellent keynote from this year's MCC Annual Assembly.