What is the Catholic Response to the Illegal Immigrant Children Crisis?

What is the Catholic Response to the Illegal Immigrant Children Crisis?

Something tragic is happening in this country of ours. Tens of thousands of children are pouring over the border and our president has done nothing at all to stop it. In fact, while it happened, he fundraised. And fundraised. And fundraised some more. I’m pretty sure he’s not planning on using the revenue to help the situation, though.

The tragedy is not the illegal immigration or the massive group of foreign-born children who’ve crossed our border. It’s what we’ve done to them. In the weeks this story has been unfolding, there have been disturbing pictures of these kids rounded up by the hundreds and dumped in confinement camps, in cramped quarters, with doctors who are not allowed to discuss their health problems, including dangerous viral strains not seen in America in decades, with the public. Senators have been turned away from the door by soldiers tasked with keeping scrutiny off their treatment. Professional politicians have used these plighted kids as convenient prop pieces for heart-string manipulation. “I wish I could take all those children home with me,” said Nancy Pelosi, not commenting on whether she would try to perform post-natal abortions on them all. Who is she kidding? Pelosi knows she can’t take any of them with her, which makes it all too easy to pretend to care about them when she’s made it clear through her policies that she cares nothing about human dignity. These children have been used by liberals to re-engage the bleeding hearts. They’ve also been used by conservatives to blame the man in the White House who, in truth, ought to secure the border to discourage the coyotes (immigrant smugglers) who dangerously contribute to this problem in the first place. Conservatives have also used them to contrast Obama’s seeming concern for the illegal immigrant children with the unattended suffering of the military veteran population. Obama is wrong on both his immigration policy and his veteran policy, but that’s not the point.

The point is children are suffering.

I’m going to take a note from George Will and Glenn Beck and say that the USA should welcome these illegal immigrant children. It’s the Catholic thing to do, though you wouldn’t know it by having a conversation with most orthodox Catholics.

Immigration is encouraged by the Church. That’s not to say we can’t place legal safety measures on it, such as border fences to keep out drug-peddling thugs, but in general it is to be maintained and not restricted. First, let’s take a look at the issue through the lens of justice. Call it a part of our Catholic preferential option for the poor, for those less fortunate that seek refuge on our shores. Plenty of Catholics, especially orthodox ones with a strong sense of justice, point to the fact that these immigrants are breaking laws, but that’s a somewhat mistaken claim. Perhaps they’ve broken civil law in crossing the border illegally, yes, but they haven’t broken moral law. The moral law says that we should follow civil laws when they are just, and may – or even must, depending on circumstance – disobey civil laws when they are unjust. All human beings, including illegal immigrant children, have the right to life, which extends as a right to those things essential for life, food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. If they do not have the means to live in their own country – and evidently these abandoned youth have even less means than the oft-impoverished adults in their countries of origin – then they have a fundamental right to seek out what sustains life. If they can find it in America, then their fundamental right to life trumps civil immigration law, provided they truly need to immigrate and do so illegally. I think anyone who takes a look at the immigration process in America should see that its timetable and requirements aren’t exactly suited toward child refugees. As another matter of justice, why exactly should we be punishing orphaned and abandoned children for trying to make a living in a land they’ve always heard touted as a paradise? Even if they have been used, as some conspiracy theorists are claiming, as pawns in a Democrat vote-rigging scandal, why should the children be punished for the sins of their parents and politicians?

Beyond justice, however, there is a matter of charity. America was born as a Judeo-Christian nation. It’s a heritage that makes most conservatives proud. Yet the average conservative defies the Judeo-Christian sense of justice outlined above in the case of illegal immigrants. Further still, the average conservative, in his outrage over the border crisis – and again, we should be angry that our border is insecure in the first place – overlooks a simple yet profound message of the Gospel: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (Matthew 18:5). We conservatives overwhelmingly identify as Christian. How can we overlook our faith for our politics?

What would happen if Christian homes with the means to do so opened their hearts and their tables and their doors to illegal immigrants? Christian families would be enriched by the addition of a second culture. Their hearts would be stretched, their love exercised, and their souls made more holy in generosity. These children would receive better homes than they had ever seen. Healthcare, education, and a decent job would await them; even if all of these are substandard in the USA, they far exceed the standards of most countries south of the border.

That in itself should be enough, but if the conservatives need another reason to take in these children, it’s this: children tend to reflect the politics of their parents. You can have them raised as wards of the state and see them become big-government liberals or you can have them raised in Christian homes and, by and large, become conservatives. The aforementioned conspiracy theorists should take note: if these children are a liberal voting time bomb, you have the means not only to defuse it, but to turn it on those you hope to defeat. Justice and charity should provide ample support for amnesty for these children, but failing that, even the Machiavellian strategies so popular with politicians these days should suffice.

Barack Obama has been more derelict in his duties than any president in history. He’s failed to secure the border and allowed this crisis to unfold. Both parties have neglected to pass meaningful immigration reform that would streamline the process for the poor and refugees like these children. Now the president plans to push through amnesty in the wrong way, by means of yet another dictatorial executive order. The American political machine shows no signs of stopping this corruption. It will continue as it sees fit. But Christian love can take away the harm it might do to these kids. Can Catholics continue to look the other way?


  1. I would say : send all the illegal immigrants from South America to Vatican City and let the pope spend the wealth of the Church on them. Problem solved.
    Solve the problem of our own homeless citizens and let’s provide them decent places to live and jobs to perform and help them to overcome their past.
    If the Church wants to solve the problem well then take them into your own Vatican City and stay out of politics !!!

    • What a profoundly bigoted thing to say. Where to begin?

      The Vatican City couldn’t possibly hold them all, but that’s to blame on secularists who stole the Papal States away from the pope in the Italian Reunification. If only the world weren’t so strongly against the Church all the time, perhaps the Church would have the means to do as you say.

      However, the Catholic Church does continue to be the single largest humanitarian organization on the planet, so the faulty assumptions of the wealth of the Church (the Vatican is not a wealthy nation) or about the apparent lack of concern for the poor (have you studied the history of the saints?) speaks far more to the ignorance of your bigotry than to the truth of the matter.

      As for politics, I’m an American citizen. Why should I stay out? How convenient it is to exclude from civil discourse those who disagree. I suppose if you can’t win on the merits of argument, that’s the only way you ever will.

  2. wow Mr “bigoted” things to say : my family are Catholic Jews, we know what persecution is, so do my kids. It has been horrifying. You don’t know my life. My family did so much for homeless without anybody knowing about this !!!
    Here’s one of my poems :

    I heard  the Good Shepherd’s invitation
    to be a Good Samaritan
    to the destitute of His Creation
    in this love-deprived Globalistan
    If it is really You, my Lord
    calling me to do this chore
    don’t let it be an inedible gourd
    bring me where You want me, I implore
    I want to love You in the needy
    whom You called me to serve
    so that eyes may be bright and beady
    and all tears may quickly swerve
    I’m ready Lord, just pick me up
    don’t let me wait too long
    to drink the longed for stirrup cup
    just let the big bell bong
    I will give myself completely
    until I no longer can
    and will be waiting discreetly
    for the coming of my Good Samaritan
    Rita B., January 24 2014
    To be a Good Samaritan : Help others in need without  any thought for recognition or reward for yourself, for Heaven will be your reward.
    Luke 10 : 25-37

    • Riki, you may come from a Catholic background, but the comments in your first post are attacks on Catholicism. They are bigoted and they are your words. That’s just the way it is.

      I’m glad you do things for the homeless. Truly I am. But charity doesn’t limit itself to one group, nor does it boast, nor does it attack the Church.

      God bless.

      • Sir, you know nothing, I did a lot for my voiceless Mexican or whatever patients, I defended them thru and thru and they were very thankful. My family are Catholic Jews and went thru persecution more than you can imagine, we lived in Israel, we lived in Europe and now 25+ years in the USA, never had any help from the side of catholics, neither here nor in Israel, we got even betrayed by them. Don’t be so denigrating, Padre Pio never talked to us in a way that you write. I don’t attack catholicism at all, I would never, I almost lost my life over being a catholic. I just want to say that we should first of all take care of our own citizens before we bring in tens of thousands on which grounds ???
        ” But charity doesn’t limit itself to one group, nor does it boast, nor does it attack the Church.” What do you mean by that ?? ” OMG Micah but it’s OK to attack simple people. Your reaction is rude, you even add to all the hurt we went thru over the years.

        • You attacked the Vatican over its alleged wealth and said we should ship off the poor immigrants there. Sorry, but that’s bigotry.

        • Riki,

          I’ve been thinking about this. Your comments are still bigoted, though that does not in itself make you a bigot, and I do apologize for being heavy-handed in my response. That said, we expect constructive responses respectful of the Church at T&C, especially from Catholics. Perhaps we can both work on our tone.

          Have a lovely day.

          God bless,



    It is Jesus I see on the Rood
    when a homeless is asking for food
    for a cup of water given in His Name
    enkindles God’s loving fiery flame.
    Rita B. 4-5-2011

    written for a homeless veteran who was often begging at the entrance of the I-10 when I drove to work to do nightshift as a nurse-midwife. I always gave him my food I brought with me for the night.