Cardinal Timothy Dolan, USCCB mislead about immigration in letter to John Boehner

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On November 7, Cardinal Timothy Dolan - Archbishop of New York and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops - sent a letter [1] to House speaker John Boehner demanding comprehensive immigration reform.

Here's how the Dolan letter misleads and promotes bad policy. Dolan writes:

As pastors, we witness each day the human consequences of a broken immigration system. Families are separated through deportation, migrant workers are exploited in the workplace, and migrants die in the desert. In their attempts to respond to these human tragedies, our priests, religious, and social service providers in many cases are unable to help these persons without changes to the law.

1. See system is broken for how the first sentence misleads.

2. It's not the fault of our laws that families are separated, it's the fault of the heads of those families that made the choice to put their children in harm's way. The Catholic church should oppose bad parenting, not be apologists for it. Note also that the very immigration "reform" policies that the USCCB supports include stronger immigration enforcement as a selling point. That will lead to more families being separated; even the USCCB can probably figure that out, but the explanation is that if "reform" passes they have no intention of supporting the parts of "reform" that don't serve their ends.

3. The policies of the USCCB will lead to more illegal immigration (see immigration wage floor for starters). And, that will lead to more workers being "exploited in the workplace". The only way to avoid such exploitation is to strictly enforce our immigration laws, something that the USCCB does not want to do much of. Anything short of strictly enforcing our laws will lead to more illegal immigration, and more workplace exploitation.

4. The immigration policies of the USCCB will lead to more illegal immigration, which will increase border deaths. See false compassion.

5. The last sentence brings to mind the "Soup Kitchen Watch" of 2006. Back then, disreputable sources like Roger Mahony were deceiving about HR4437 causing religious leaders to stop giving humanitarian aid to the poor. That wasn't true then, and it isn't true now. Unless, of course, Dolan means cases like a Catholic priest aiding and abetting known illegal aliens in a non-humanitarian context such as to find jobs (and that might be what Dolan means, who knows).

Dolan's policies will lead to the opposite of what he claims he wants. His policies will increase workplace exploitation, increase bad parenting, and increase border deaths.

Dolan continues:

To be sure, Church teaching supports the right of sovereign nations to protect their borders. In our view, immigration reform would protect that right and restore the rule of law while upholding the human rights and dignity of the person.

His support for our sovereignty is disingenuous: as long as people (at least current or potential Catholics) want to come here, he and the USCCB would welcome them with open arms. Even if "reform" includes stronger border controls, the USCCB, far-left like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Democratic Party, big business, racial power groups like the National Council of La Raza, and the Mexican government will fight against those controls as they do now. Dolan knows the USCCB and the rest would oppose increased border enforcement. "Reform" would give more power to the very people who now support illegal immigration, and they'd use that increased power to continue to support illegal immigration. "Reform" would also reward massive corruption: the reason illegal immigration has happened is because politicians have looked the other way. "Reform" would reward those corrupt politicians and their backers. Rewarding bad behavior leads to more of it.

Dolan continues:

As a moral matter, however, our nation cannot continue to receive the benefits of the work and contributions of undocumented immigrants without extending to them the protection of the law. Studies have demonstrated that undocumented immigrants contribute substantially to our nation’s economy, working in industries such as service, construction, and agriculture. Keeping these human beings as a permanent underclass of workers who are unable to assert their rights or enjoy the fruits of their labor is a stain on the soul of the nation.

Dolan is right that we shouldn't continue to rely on an illegal alien workforce, but the only solution that works is to reduce the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. Dolan's immigration policy will lead to more illegal immigration, perpetuating the very thing he claims to oppose. The next two sentences have echoes of the jobs Americans wont do and living in the shadows canards. See also immigration economics for many examples of flawed immigration studies that all suffer from a fundamental failing of not including all the costs of illegal immigration. One of those costs is that an influx of low-skilled labor drives down wages for Americans (why else would WalMart and McDonalds support it?), resulting in income disparities, high unemployment, and social ills. In order to "assert their rights", all illegal aliens have to do is return to their home countries. Dolan is welcome to speak against those countries' policies if he doesn't like the conditions in those countries. As for enjoying "the fruits of their labor", few illegal aliens are prevented from doing that.

Dolan then promotes the Senate amnesty bill:

As we have communicated in the past, we urge you to pass in its final form immigration reform legislation that 1) establishes a fair and achievable path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation; 2) creates a program that permits future flows of migrant workers to enter safely and legally and with appropriate protections; 3) reaffirms family reunification as the cornerstone of our nation’s immigration system and expedites the reunification of families, based on marriage as the union of one man and one woman; 4) restores basic due process protections to immigrants, including protections against unnecessary detention; 5) enhances protections for refugees and asylum-seekers; and 6) examines the root causes of migration, such as poverty and persecution, and adopts policies that address these push factors. The House has a responsibility to debate and attempt to resolve public policy issues that challenge the nation. The Senate already has passed such a bill, which, although not perfect, improves upon the status quo.

His version of "reform" includes guest workers; see the link. Regarding the "root causes", Dolan will make them worse. Dolan's policies will reward corrupt foreign leaders that encourage their citizens to leave in order to receive remittances back and to reduce the pressure in their countries for reform. Countries like Mexico use the U.S. as a "pressure release valve", sending those who might press for reforms north and getting billions of dollars back. Instead of opposing such policies, Dolan would reward those who've been using those policies for decades.

Dolan's immigration policies will make things worse: they'll worsen the very things he claims he opposes.

Want to do something about this? Look up those who talk with @CardinalDolan or who use the #Catholic tag, and make the points above to them.

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[1] PDF of the letter (cached) here: usccb . org/news/2013/13-199.cfm