Coinciding with the feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6, the U.S. Catholic Church celebrates National Migration Week.
Remembering, as we do in the Christmas season, that the Son of God “migrated” from heaven to live among us, and that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were themselves refugees in the land of Egypt, leads us to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants and refugees.
The United States has been and continues to be a nation of immigrants — and the Catholic Church in this country continues to be defined by the immigrant experience. Illegal migration should not be tolerated, for lack of legal status renders the undocumented vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Yet, in fixing illegal immigration we must be careful not to demonize those who were drawn to this country in the hope of a better life.
It was heartening to read in Time magazine of President-elect Donald Trump’s apparent opening to the DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors. President-elect Trump has promised a solution that will make people “happy and proud.” Let’s hope that he does so, for the DREAMers are American in their tastes, language and aspirations. Granting legal status would allow these young people to dream like Americans.
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Revitalizing America’s inner cities and rebooting the nation’s industrial capacity are bold promises. Tax reform, cutting down on the maze of business-killing regulation and fixing the spiraling costs of healthcare perhaps can help President Trump make good on these promises. But, right now, the only countries that are growing economically are countries that also have strong growth in immigration. Therefore, any wall built to keep out “illegals” must have doors to allow in a legal work force if future economic growth is to be sustainable.
Thomas G. Wenski
archbishop of Miami