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The U.S. Bishops' Border Mass for Immigration Reform

Today at noon (Eastern time), a group of U.S. bishops, led by Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, will say Mass at the border wall between Mexico and the United States in Nogales, Arizona. "Following the example given by Pope Francis at the Italian island of Lampedusa, where where the Holy Father remembered migrants from Africa who have died trying to reach the island and Europe, the bishops will call attention to the humanitarian consequences of the broken U.S. immigration system."

You can watch a livestream of the Mass, and learn more about the Justice for Immigrants effort, here. It will be followed by a press conference. [UPDATE: Watch the whole thing below.]

Why Nogales? Read Ananda Rose Robinson's 2009 Commonweal article "Borderline: Stranded in Nogales" for a look at what conditions are like there for immigrants, and those who help them.


About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



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"...the bishops will call attention to the humanitarian consequences of the broken U.S. immigration system."


In fact, the immigration system is not broken.  The problem is that the present immigration laws are not being enforced.  And the wall that was promised but never completed (and which  proved to be quite effective where it was built) completes the fiasco.  Were the laws to be strictly enforced and the wall completed, the flow of illegal immigrants would slow to a managable quantity.  As far as the illegals already here, as they come up on the radar, they get processed according to the laws.  And last but not least, those people who came here in violation of our immigration laws, and brought their children, they are responsible for the mess they created, not the U.S., and therefore it is up to them to resolve their problem.  It is so unfair to those who came here in compliance with our immigration laws and did all that they were required to do to just give all illegals instant legal status.  

And Mollie, this is not a troll. 

It is very encouraging to see the effect which Pope Francis is having on the Church, and on the US Bishops.


God Bless

Mr. Schwartz clearly does not live at the border, live among immigrant populations nor pay much attention to international economics like the utterly violent so-called "free trade" agreements which have destroyed the Mexican rural economy driving millions of people to search for work anywhere.

Perhaps for the remainder of Lent he might read "true" accounts of the plight of immigrants like that of the Houston Catholic Worker's founders Mark and Louise Zwick's book "Mercy Without Borders".


It is not clear to me what a "violent" trade agreement is, or for that matter what a "violent" agreement of any sort is.  As far as the plight of immigrants, are you referring to illegal immigrants?  And do you mean those living in the U.S. in violation of our immigration laws, or those living in Mexico, Central America, or South America planning on entering illegally?  By the way, to me the fact that so many want desperately to come here to live is testimony to the greatness of our country, it's constitution, and it's political structure.  And looking at Mexico, and especially Venezuela tells me all I want to know about Mexico's constitution, and Venezuela's socialist nightmare.  But I digress.

Cardinal O'Malley's homily is a masterpiece! Thank you, Pope Francis for recognizing his gifts.

Bob S., some might consider this a "violent" trade agreement:

It is estimated that 2 million family farms have been lost since NAFTA has been enacted, and that 20-25% of the Mexican population is food-insecure.  Now of course there are other factors that enter in. But it is a fact that the price that farmers are able to get for their crops have been driven down; at the same time the price of food has gone up, largely due to NAFTA.  Which, BTW, has not done American workers any favors, either. I'm not saying that all illegal immigrants are here because they couldn't feed their families at home. But a significant number of them are. The path to legal residency is expensive, long, and uncertain. Some people are sufficiently desperate that they take a short cut.  I'm not so certain that if my family was hungry I wouldn't do the same. I feel that we need to reconsider some other possible approaches, such as maybe a guest worker program. And it's time to put a fork in NAFTA, for the sake of American workers as well as those beyond our borders.



This one statement from the article you recommended I read,

"As heavily subsidized U.S. corn and other staples poured into Mexico, producer prices dropped and small farmers found themselves unable to make a living."

Gave me pause.  Why are American taxpayers subsidizing corn and other staples?  This sounds like the problem is not NAFTA but the fact that American taxpayers are subsidizing American farmers, something that I oppose as a conservative.

Well, Bob, I'd recommend that your look up David Stockman's account of what happened when the almost-sainted Ronald Reagan tried to stop the subsidies for American farmers. The top frugal Republicans from the Senate rushed to his office to tell him: "Farm subsidies are Republican welfare!" That was the end of that, and there were only conservatives in the room at the death watch.

In fact, the immigration system is not broken.  The problem is that the present immigration laws are not being enforced. 

Bob, I would urge you and everyone to become familiar with the US bishops' critique of our current immigration system.  This landing page provides helpful summaries and a variety of resources to do deeper dives on some of the important issues: current policies that are harmful to families, mistreatment of undocumented individuals, and root causes of injustices in our existing policies.  I don't believe the Catholic church would agree with your statement that "the immigration system is not broken".

Regarding enforcement: in some ways, the Obama Administration has actually been more committed to enforcement than previous administrations, including Republican administrations.  And this at some political risk, as Spanish-speaking Americans, who tend to be quite sympathetic to the plight of undocumented individuals, are an important part of the Democratic political base.  I don't think the conservative perception that the Obama Administration has been "soft" on immigration squares with the facts.  In addition, the immigration reforms that President Obama has proposed have been modest, common-sense, and are aligned with church teaching.  That they haven't succeeded says more about our current political dysfunction than it does about the quality of the President's proposals.  I would say the same, by the way, about common-sense conservative proposals like guest worker programs.


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