Email to an immigration restrictionist

I noticed a blogger denouncing the Pope for unspecified comments on immigration during his current visit to America, and sent him the following email:

Dear Mr. Lillpop,

What did the Pope say that you object to?

So far as I can tell from Joe Guzzardi’s piece at

all the Pope did was (1) say to President Bush that he hoped a humane solution could be found to the problem of illegal immigration, and (2) tell the Bishops that he hoped they and their communities would continue to welcome the immigrants who joined them.

The first is a point anyone could agree with. See, for example, Allan Wall’s VDARE argument that mass emigration is bad for Mexico:

On that line of thought the humane thing would be to restrict legal immigration and enforce the law.

As to the second statement, it’s consistent with the Pope’s stated view, which Guzzardi quotes, that the authorities should decide what laws are in the public interest and enforce them, but believers should be welcoming on a personal level.

It’s a mistake for immigration restrictionists to help people like LA Archbishop Roger Mahoney present the impression that Church teaching favors open borders and illegal immigration.

Best wishes,

Jim Kalb

The Pope’s comments to the American bishops are here. His comments to President Bush were private but a joint statement about them is here.

UPDATE: John Lillpop sends me a reference to a weblog entry at the Washington Post that says that “The pope … issued a statement in Spanish telling the Latino community he would urge President Bush to grant legal status to illegal immigrants living in the states.” I haven’t found the statement or any independent reference to it, and in general journalistic reports about what the Pope says are quite unreliable, so it’s hard to comment.

SECOND UPDATE: A New York Times article seems to confirm that the Pope said nothing to call for open borders or legalization of illegals, suggesting if anything that (in the American case) reforms in Mexico would be the truly humane solution:

“The separation of families “is truly dangerous for the social, moral and human fabric” of Latin and Central American families, the pope told reporters aboard his plane. “The fundamental solution is that there should no longer be a need to emigrate, that there are enough jobs in the homeland, a sufficient social fabric,” he said. Short of that, families should be protected, not destroyed, he said. “As much as it can be done it should be done,” the pontiff said.”

The Times piece is notable for the contrast between what the Pope actually said and what immigration advocates say he said.

7 thoughts on “Email to an immigration restrictionist”

  1. Immigration Needs to be Restricted
    After careful review, anyone with a even a modicum of logic can come to no other conclusion: illegal immigration must be halted, illegal immigrants here now must be deported and legal immigration needs decreased from the approx. 2 million allowed in per year currently.

    Please review the following report on the FISCAL COST OF IMMIGRATION by economist Edwin Rubenstein just released this past week:

    A partial summary of the report:

    The Fiscal Impact on 15 Federal Departments surveyed was: $346 billion in fiscal related costs in FY 2007.

    Each immigrant cost taxpayers more than $9,000 per year.

    An immigrant household (2 adults, 2 children) cost taxpayers $36,000 per year.

    Legal immigrants were not separated out from illegal immigrants for the fiscal impact study, but if they had been, the fiscal cost per ILLEGAL immigrant would be even more shocking than the figures quoted above.

    The most extensive and authoritative study, prior to economist Edwin Rubenstein’s “The Fiscal Impact of Immigration” (April 2008) , is the National Research Council (NRC)’s The New Americans: Economic, Demographic and Fiscal Effects of Immigration (1997).

    The NRC staff analyzed federal, state, and local government expenditures on programs such as Medicaid, AFDC (now TANF), and SSI, as well as the cost of educating immigrants’ foreign- and native-born children.

    NRC found that the average immigrant household receives $13,326 in federal annual expenditures and pays $10,664 in federal taxes—that is, they generate a fiscal deficit of $2,682 (1996 dollars)per household.

    In 2007 dollars this is a deficit of $3,408 per immigrant household.

    With 9 million households currently headed by immigrants, more than $30 billion ($3,408 x 9 million) of the federal deficit represents money transferred from native taxpayers to immigrants.

    Our national immigration policies have to work for the United States. While improving the plight of the world’s poor is a laudable goal, the finite resources we have available to fulfill that goal would be swamped if there wasn’t some orderly and manageable system in place to limit entry into the United States to what this nation can actually support. The more illegal aliens that are permitted to subvert the immigration system, the fewer immigrants we can accommodate who might actually produce a positive benefit for our country.

    The more we become a nation of illegal immigrants, the deeper we fall into anarchy.

    • Papal Attitudes
      Even if those who claim that the pope has “offended” American people by his permissive attitude to immigration are justified in their wrath, isn’t he bound to take a broad view of the interests of all humanity?

      His concerns include the moral and spiritual welfare of the entire world. So, from his point of view, temporal considerations of nationality, material interest, and cultural identity are not only uncharitable towards immigrants but also irrelevant to salvation.

      I do not welcome the practical outcomes of this catholic tolerance of immigration into the United States or elsewhere, but I think it (partly) explains the pope’s attitude, or policy.

      • Broad views accommodate particularities
        Catholicism doesn’t require communism or the abolition of the family. Why should it require open borders?

        The global public good is best advanced if people have particular rights, responsibilities and connections. With that in mind I’d expect the Pope’s view of the interests of all humanity to include an understanding of the benefits of local cultural coherence. Common culture enables people to live by definite standards. It lets them discuss things and run their common affairs cooperatively with their neighbors.

        His view would also likely include the advantages of government that is responsible to its own people and works for their advantage while respecting larger goods. Not to mention the advantages of law, and of requiring people to clean up their own messes instead of exporting their problems to someone else.

        Large-scale immigration like we have now undercuts all that, so in general I’d expect the Pope to think it’s a problem. And in fact he explicitly treated it that way, when he said it causes family problems and could best be dealt with by promoting better conditions in the country of origin.

        I don’t think all the fuss is intelligent. I can understand making a fuss about statements people in the American Church have made, but not about the Pope on this visit. Both VDARE and the NYT said he was a lot more circumspect on the issue than many had expected. Other journalists, looking back, are beginning to note that didn’t say much substantive about it. And the inflammatory stuff Tancredo mentions has yest to be confirmed.

        I don’t see the advantage for restrictionists of identifying papal and Church teaching with the views of Roger Mahoney.

  2. Which families?
    Sounds like the pope is giving the sanctuary movement free reign to continue to ignore our immigration laws. That’s certainly how they are going to interpret his statement.

    He certainly doesn’t mean protecting the families of U.S. citizens.

  3. Catholic Church’s hostility to immigration law enforcement
    I just posted an action alert asking readers to protest the Catholic church’s hostility to immigration reform on my website, The Inverted World.

    Not only is the pope reported to have advocated illegal alien amnesty in private conversation with the president, but also Catholic clergymen used the occasion of the pope’s visit to advocate against immigration law enforcement.

    The pope also outrageously implied that violence against immigrants was a major problem in America, thus maliciously associating peaceful activism for reform with thuggery.

    Click on the link for details.

    I think there’s enough to object to here, and I hope this site’s readers will protest the Catholic church’s attitude towards immigration law enforcement. A sample e-mail and appropriate contact information are provided at the link.

    • Request for info
      Does anyone have any info on

      • The basis for the claim that the Pope advocated amnesty? Tancredo and the WaPo blogger mention it, but neither the NYT piece nor Joe Guzzardi’s piece at VDARE, which aim at a comprehensive overview of the Pope’s comments on immigration, do so.
      • The context and exact content of any comment the Pope may have made linking violence and the situation of immigrants? AFP mentions such a comment but doesn’t say much.

      Journalistic statements about what the Pope says about almost anything are usually misleading and often simply wrong. You have to look at the text. Journalists misunderstand and usually don’t much care about things that don’t fit into their outlook. It’s true that some U.S. churchmen, like the outrageous (on numerous counts) Cardinal Mahoney, have called for amnesty and what not else, but I think it’s a mistake for immigration restrictionists to support him in his attempt to represent such views as papal and Church teaching.

      Incidentally, both jobling and zeezil apparently got accounts here so they could paste up leaflets. That’s not discussion or debate and gives a bad impression.


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