dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Deal lives

Rumors of Deal Hudson's disappearance have been greatly exaggerated. Although the one-time publisher of Crisis left that magazine and his position advising the White House on Catholic matters under a cloud of scandal, he's kept a foot in the game under new auspices. Since January 2005, the Morley Institute for Church and Culture has been sending out his retooled e-newsletter, now dubbed the Window, on a semiregular basis (a few times a month).

The most recent edition takes on Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles for his vocal opposition to a new immigration bill (HR 4437), which Mahony says could criminalize services the church provides to undocumented immigrants. To clarify this complex issue, Hudson turned to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a Catholic, one of the bill's authors (the other is Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. [R-WI]). Is Mahony's interpretation of HR 4437 right?

Absolutely not. King continues, Not a single priest or bishop hascontacted me to talk about this bill. They are questioning my goodfaith and that of Rep. Sensenbrenner. We want to target gangs andsmugglers. This law has always been on the books, and no priest, nun,social worker, or volunteer has ever been arrested or will bearrested.

Mahony and others object to the language in the bill that would criminalize the behavior of anyone who assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in orremain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain inthe United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact thatsuch person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in orremain in the United States. The bolded words are the legal novelties in this bill, and that's what has Catholic leaders worried. Couldn't the vague terms be applied to those who provide shelter, food, health care? That wasn't in King's mind, he assures us. So why add the new language?

It is my understanding that we added the word 'assists' at the requestof the Justice Department so we could go after those who issue false IDcards. If those who are concerned about the language have betterlanguage to suggest, let them offer it and we will certainly considerit.

Is the language of "assists" and "directs" really the best the congressmen could come up with in order to secure tougher legal penalties against those who issue fake IDs to undocumented immigrants? Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, thinks not.

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Mahony and others object to the language in the bill that would criminalize the behavior of anyone who assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States. The bolded words are the legal novelties in this bill, and that's what has Catholic leaders worried. Couldn't the vague terms be applied to those who provide shelter, food, health care?No. This is much ado about nothing. Note that the law does not say, "assists . . . a person WHO IS SOMEONE who resides or remains in the United States" illegally. It says, "assists . .. a person TO reside or remain in the United States." You have to read the "assist" and the "to" together. Thus, the law obviously doesn't apply to anyone who gives social services to people who happen to be illegal immigrant. Giving out social services to all comers is not "assisting" illegal immigrants "TO" remain in the United States. If I give a beggar $5, and it turns out that he is an illegal immigrant, have I "assisted" him "TO" be here illegally? No, I have "assisted" him *in a general way*, not for the specific purpose of immigrating here illegally.

Interesting that, despite the "induce" bit, we don't see the bulk of the American upper and upper-middle class indicted under these laws that have "always been on the books". You know, seeing as how they're the ones paying undocumented workers to be there.OTOH, indicting political activists defending undocumented workers for "encouraging" them, that's a matter of "national security" ... !!!