By Dr. Jeff Mirus | June 18, 2013 4:21 PMWhenever 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!”
Many Americans, especially conservative Americans, tend to be selective legalists. Despite their recognition of the falsity of some anti-life laws, they hold that the law confirms a sort of territorial moral exclusivity on citizens. This is one of many values which can arise from being culture bound. It typically creates a huge blind spot on immigration.
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.
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.
Read more: http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1085