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Immigration: first, acknowledge the system is broken

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Aug 18, 2014

Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute offers another balanced reflection on the immigration controversy, noting that the Church encourages affluent societies to show generosity toward migrants, while demanding that migrants respect the laws and norms of the societies that accept them.

But whether you favor a more open policy toward immigration, or tighter restrictions, Gregg argues, “it’s hard to avoid concluding that U.S. immigration laws are confused, contradictory, irregularly enforced and subject to conflicting judicial interpretation and constitutionally questionable executive orders.”

When immigration laws are routinely ignored, defied, re-interpreted, changed by fiats from the White House, and violated by thousands of immigrants, it’s no exaggeration to say that the US today does not have a working system of laws regarding immigration. The failures of the system, Gregg writes “embody a serious rule-of-law problem that, as Archbishop José Gimez of Los Angeles has stressed, must be part of America’s immigration conversation.”

For years American politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, have shown themselves more interested in exploiting the immigration controversy as a fundraising opportunity than in solving the problem. There’s plenty of room for responsible debate on the issue. But that debate must begin with an honest recognition that the system, as it exists today, is not working.

The American Catholic bishops, too, have been guilty of statements and gestures that have suggested an emotional reaction rather thana balanced perspective. But when the bishops call for immigration reform—for a comprehensive overhaul of the system—they’re only acknowledging the truth.

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  • Posted by: shrink - Aug. 19, 2014 8:39 AM ET USA

    For the next two years, it will not matter what the current law says, or what any new law may happen to say. Debate is fine, so long as we recognize that nothing will matter for the foreseeable future. The only thing that matters now is the political expediency of those on the inside who are supposed to enforce current law, and they have chosen anarchy, and we are stuck with it for now.

  • Posted by: Defender - Aug. 18, 2014 9:51 PM ET USA

    The Amnesty program during the Reagan administration was supposed to be the one and only time that millions were to be able to ignore the law at that time and become citizens. What the bishops seem to favor is an Amnesty II, this time with millions more illegal immigrations and millions of dollars more. Do we do it again in another 30 years of so?

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