The Archbishop of Philadelphia delivered these remarks last night:
Immigration can be a tough issue. At least one of our presidential candidates has already made the national immigration debate ugly with a great deal of belligerent bombast. His success in the polls shows that many people – including many good people – are very uneasy about the direction of our country. And immigration is a topic with obvious economic, national security and legal dimensions. For the Church, immigration is mainly about the human aspects of the issue – in other words, how our policies should protect human dignity. Migration is about human beings. So it has moral implications. Pope Francis has a special sympathy for migrants and refugees worldwide. His first trip as pope was to Lampedusa, an island in the Mediterranean, to remember migrants who died trying to reach Europe by boat. He spoke about a growing “globalization of indifference” that ignores the pain of those seeking to migrate, and that treats migrants as a part of a “throwaway culture.” Francis will likely return to that message when he visits Philadelphia. A key concern for the Church is the impact of immigration policy on families, The social costs of a flawed immigration system are immense. Bad immigration laws undermine families and communities. They do special damage to the most vulnerable, starting with children. The damage happens in the sending countries, when a parent leaves home to support his or her family by finding work elsewhere. And it also happens in receiving nations, where undocumented parents can be deported away from their citizen children. As Christians, our faith obligates us to protect migrant families. As Pope Pius XII said many decades ago, “The émigré Holy Family of Nazareth, fleeing into Egypt, is the archetype of every refugee family.” In 2007, Benedict XVI compared the flight of the Holy Family to today’s persons on the move: “In this misfortune experienced by the Family of Nazareth, obliged to take refuge in Egypt, we can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants live, especially refugees, exiles, evacuees, internally displaced persons, those who are persecuted. The Family of Nazareth reflects the image of God safeguarded in the heart of every human family, even if disfigured and weakened by emigration.” In 2014, Pope Francis echoed this same theme: “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph knew what it meant to leave their own country and become migrants: threatened by Herod’s lust for power, they were forced to take flight and seek refuge in Egypt. But the maternal heart of Mary and the compassionate heart of Joseph, the Protector of the Holy Family, never doubted that God would always be with them. Through their intercession, may that same firm certainty dwell in the heart of every migrant and refugee.” With the Holy Family as her “model and protector of every migrant, alien, and refugee,” the Church is committed to helping migrants with the resources needed for their well-being. The duty and the privilege of that commitment apply to all of us equally. In welcoming migrant families, we need to grasp the global inequities that force the separation of families. Poverty and violence in their home countries force parents to leave their children behind and earn money in foreign lands to support them. Or in some cases, parents send their children away to other countries to protect them from harm. We see this today in Central America, where parents send their children to the United States and other nations to escape the bloodshed of organized criminal networks.
There’s much more. Read the entire speech.