THE STATUS OF TITLE 42
While I appreciate the overall sentiment of Griffin Oleynick’s “Tragedy in Texas,” (July/August), it is important to point out both an error and an important clarification.
Regarding the error, in the last paragraph Oleynick states that the administration should “rescind Title 42 immediately,” and earlier on noted that the administration had not “signaled any plans to cease invoking Title 42.” In April, CDC director Rachelle Wolensky determined that Title 42 was no longer needed as a public-health measure and that it would be terminated on May 23. Several states subsequently filed suit against the administration with the intent of keeping Title 42 active because, they argued, its termination violated the notice and comments provision of the Administrative Procedures Act. They also argued that the termination was “arbitrary and capricious” on several grounds, including that it did not take into consideration the financial impact of the termination on the states. On April 27, Judge Robert Summerhays granted a temporary restraining order and on May 20, three days before the termination was to go into effect, he issued a preliminary injunction. It could be some time before judicial process plays out and the effort to terminate the current use of Title 42 can be pushed forward by the administration. And so, the administration did attempt to terminate Title 42 but that effort has ended up mired in an ongoing judicial process.
Regarding the clarification: Oleynick states that “Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas was right to launch an operation to disrupt the human-trafficking networks responsible for horrors like the one near San Antonio.” The problem here relates to definitions. It appears that the tragedy in question related to the deaths of fifty-three migrants was in fact a smuggling operation and not a human-trafficking operation. The difference here is important. In short, human smuggling involves bringing a person or persons across an international border absent coercion. Human trafficking “involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act,” according to the Department of Homeland Security. Given that the situation in San Antonio did not involve coercion for the purpose of commercial gain, but rather the effort of desperate people to find a new life in the United States, the situation here does not appear to have been related to a trafficking network but a smuggling network. Of course, many of the same players involved in smuggling individuals across the border might also be involved in trafficking humans, but this specific instance appears to have been a smuggling operation. The situation is no less tragic for it.
Silver Spring, Md.
THE PERILS OF ‘SUCCESS’
“The End of Roe” (July/August) may be the best editorial I have seen in Commonweal. If your 1973 editorial on Roe foresaw the perils of Church support for single-issue anti-abortion politics, the post-Roe piece astutely tracks the perils of “success” in the courts. It is surely right in calling all who label themselves pro-life to advocate policies that truly support women, children, and families in the Dobbs era.
Your criticism of the bishops’ overriding focus on abortion is especially well taken. I taught religious-studies courses in health-care ethics for many years. While I am not Catholic, I always urged students to consider the relevance of Catholic moral theology and social teaching for many health-related questions, not just abortion and reproductive issues.
I have long been saddened and perplexed that the American hierarchy squanders the Church’s rich moral resources by focusing on a narrow range of issues, particularly abortion. Well-articulated, nuanced concepts such as the common good, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the preferential option for the poor get minimal public exposure and application, while abortion continues to obsess the bishops. What if even half as much episcopal energy had gone into the pursuit of just immigration policy or in addressing climate change?
A MEMORY OF TOM CORNELL
I was a member of ROTC at Dartmouth College in 1964. Lyndon Johnson had been elected to a full term, and I was forced to confront the Vietnam War. I was on track to become a government major with an unofficial minor in religion and philosophy (different aspects of the same interest in natural law and related ethical issues). At the time there was much noise and heat, but less light, coming from those interested in the war. The very best ethics analytical work came from Tom Cornell; I believe he was at the Catholic Peace Fellowship then (“‘I Believe in the Beatitudes,’” September). I never met him, but his guidance was transformative and will always be cherished.
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