The August 1, 2008 issue of The Compass has an article titled, “Priest shares insights on illegal immigration“, with a subtitle of “Fr. Rueter urges Catholics to look at economic issues behind illegal immigration.”
The overall tone of the article is nice. But unfortunately, it’s yet another example of a Catholic priest trying to appeal to our Christianity in order to get us to look the other way from this crime. Our former bishop David Zubik did this last year. There’s this misconception out there that if you’re against illegal immigration, you must not be Christian. Or if you are Christian, you certainly aren’t acting like one.
Fr. Rueter believes that illegal immigration must be addressed as a human services issue and not a criminal act. He said, “They just want to work. They’re not into drugs, they’re not into anything else. They just want to have a job, get some money to go back home.”
You know what, that sounds a lot like me. I just want to work. I’m not into drugs. I just want to have a job and support my family. The only difference is that I don’t commit a crime to do it. No matter how you slice it, the first word in illegal immigration is still “illegal.” If they’re looking for a better life, great. Come to America legally, find a job, and work hard. Now that sounds a lot like my ancestors from Belgium, except they didn’t commit a crime.
If you were to follow Fr. Rueter’s reasoning, then you could take the immigration issue out of it, and say that if an American is hit by hard times and just wants to feed his family, then he can just go into a grocery store and steal food. After all, he’s not into drugs or anything. He’s a good person and just wants to feed his family.
Fr. Rueter said that before making judgements about illegal immigrants, he urges us Catholics to put ourselves in their shoes. He said, “I think they are good workers. They are human, too.” Again, if someone is a good worker and is human, they have a license to commit a crime? And what does that mean anyway? How can you start any sentence with “before you judge an illegal immigrant…?” I’ll say it again: the first word in illegal immigrant is “illegal.” That alone gives me the right to judge them and call them a criminal. Illegal immigration is a crime in the U.S. folks.
The United States is the best country in the world. Our borders are open to immigrants from all corners of the world. I say “bring them all here.” If you want a better life, then come on in just like my ancestors did. Do it legally, pledge your allegance to our country and make it a better place.
But the fact that you’re human and you’re a good worker and you just want to feed your family does not give you the right to break the law. And the fact that you’re a Catholic priest does not exempt you from having logical reasoning in your appeal for compassion.