PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: Time to reflect on how we view immigration

Last Updated on November 7, 2015 by Editor

Mark DiOrio / Observer-Dispatch at St. Mary of Mount Carmel/Blessed Sacrament Church, Feb. 18, 2015 in Utica, N.Y.


“The scum of creation has been dumped on us. Some of our principal cities are more foreign than American. The most dangerous and corrupting people have invaded us. The vice and crime which they have planted in our midst is sickening and terrifying. The manufacturers are mainly to blame. They wanted cheap labor, and they didn’t care a curse how much harm to our future might be the result of their heartless policy.”

If you might think these words were recent and commenting on the influx of immigrants from other places into our American cities and places, you’d be very wrong. The words above were published in 1919 in Georgia, and the writer was commenting on the immigrants pouring in from Europe. Those immigrants were Italians, Poles, Jews and Russians.

Now in 2015, a century later, some of those immigrants’ great-grandchildren have been cheering Mr. Trump as he denounces the latest generation of immigrants, in remarkably similar terms.

For those of the Christian and Catholic community of faith, it is important that we reflect upon and decide what our opinion is concerning those who seek to enter this nation. As a church, some might not agree with the stated position of our American bishops about keeping the door open, giving care and offering help and assistance, even to those who are illegal — not following the rules of immigration.

Many good and devout Catholic people are included in those who favor the door to freedom and opportunity swinging open for those who are legally entering.

While visiting our American cities recently, Pope Francis spoke about being the son Italians who migrated to Argentina years ago seeking a better life. They did it legally, according to the rules.

As Pope Francis has invited us to celebrate a year of mercy beginning Dec. 8, however, perhaps mercy, a break, a loosening of the “rules” is in order toward even illegal immigrants.

Any immigrant can tell you the exact date, time, circumstances, everything they first noticed when arriving in this United States. It always is a life-changing experience, turning a new page, breathing the first gulp of free air.

Sometimes we forget to truly appreciate the gift of life given here.

In the upcoming months of political campaigning for the highest office in this land, many words will be spoken and written about the significant situation/crisis surrounding immigration, especially from the lands to the south of us — Mexico and Central America and also from war-torn and violent places such as Syria.

Each of us should reflect, consider … dare we say pray … and take a stance and fashion an opinion.

Probably the indifference of too many people will only intensify the problem. Most of our families and most of us are the children and grandchildren of those who came over years ago, usually with not much more than a handful of money and a heart full of hope and promise.