Immigration Solutions Must be Just
By Bishop David J. Malloy
Once more, the question of immigration has become a matter of particular attention and urgency. 
Pope Francis has made this question one of the great priorities of his preaching since becoming the successor of Peter. And for us in this country, the debate on this matter is long standing and contentious.
But in recent days the headlines are drawing our attention to actions by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE officials have said that the enforcement is directed toward individuals who are the objects of specific court orders for their deportation. Others, however, express their concerns about a widespread effort at deportation with inevitable personal and family consequences.
As has been the case for some time, we are left to ask ourselves how are we to respond to this complicated problem? For us as Catholics, we need to think about this issue in the same way that we approach every question in life. That is, we ground our answer in faith.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued a statement on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressing the enforcement action and the current administration’s recent decision to drastically limit asylum in this country. 
The cardinal has condemned this enhanced “enforcement only” approach because it will “separate families, cause the unacceptable suffering of thousands of children and their parents, and create widespread panic in our communities.”
But he goes on to urge “ ... that persons fleeing for their lives be permitted to seek refuge in the U.S. and all those facing removal proceedings be afforded due process. All who are at or within our borders should be treated with compassion and dignity. 
“Beyond that, a just solution to this humanitarian crisis should focus on addressing the root causes that compel families to flee and enacting a humane reform of our immigration system.”
Cardinal DiNardo thus highlights the spiritual basis that must be a part of our response to the immigration question, which includes recognizing the right of sovereign nations to control their borders. 
Still, we must see in all of our brothers and sisters, including migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, the image and likeness of God. We expect others to see that in us as well. 
That is the basis of understanding the profound dignity of human life which merits unfailing respect.
At the same time, Cardinal DiNardo calls for a wider solution than simply the day-to-day realities of assisting and receiving refugees and migrants. 
What are the root causes that motivate people to move or to flee from their homelands, often taking great risks? What are the elements of governmental and economic oppression, for example, that are part of this root cause? 
And, as we try to answer these questions of others, we should also ask ourselves what it would take for any of us to leave our country. 
These questions cannot remain unaddressed or be considered only in the abstract.
Pope Francis has given further helpful guidance. He has stated, “We have to distinguish between migrants and refugees. ...  Migrants must be treated according to certain rules because migrating is a right, albeit a right which is highly regulated. On the other hand, being a refugee is the result of situations of war, suffering, hunger, terrible situations, and the refugee’s status calls for great attention, greater effort.” 
And he goes on to state, “Hearts must not be closed to refugees, but those who govern need prudence. They must be very open to receiving refugees, but they also have to calculate how best to settle them, because refugees must not only be accepted, but also integrated.” 
And the Holy Father defines integration as “finding them housing, schools, employment ... integrating them into the population.” 
Here is where our love for the stranger and our open hearts seek to serve Christ in all who are in need.
Openness of heart. Seeing Christ in others, including in the stranger. The need for prudence in regulating generously our acceptance of those who come to our country. Helping to integrate new arrivals into our society and life. Respect for the right of sovereign nations to control their borders. These are foundational principals of a Catholic response to the immigration question.
We should not forget either that, as Catholics, our own history of immigration into this country resulted in our being among the most feared and discriminated against in the history of the United States. 
The “Know Nothing” movement of the 1850s for example fostered opposition to newly arrived Catholic immigrants from Italy, Germany and Ireland. Many of our own ancestors walked more than a mile in the shoes of today’s immigrants who seek a new life under the protection of American law. 
For too long our politicians and others have sought to gain advantage by using the question of migration without providing solutions. Given the human and spiritual cost, we should demand of them a fair and just system to legally receive and integrate those coming to our shores. 
Ultimately, no matter the political views that roil today’s immigration topic, causing fear in and of our brothers and sisters should not be the first option selected in the debate.