Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

Living Your Faith as Citizens and Leaders in Politics, Culture, Society and Business

Immigration Policy: Still looking for Justice

As the summer months slip away, comprehensive immigration reforms seems like a distant memory.  Still, millions of adults and children are waiting for some form of normalcy despite fear and anxieties.  Though the 1986 Immigration law provided hope and status for many, the compromises from that time period have created new problems.  Daily I hear from our immigration and service staff about newcomers seeking means to provide for their family and to become  good neighbors.

Reminds me of when my family arrived in the Americas in the late 1600s.  My wife’s dad arrived in the mid 1950s.  All newcomers what to be legitimate members of our community. We need to find new ways to help these seekers, like all of us before them — unless of course you are Native American.

The US Catholic Bishops continue to call for comprehensive  immigration reform.  Please take a moment, Read the Bishops’ website at  Pray about it.  Wrie your congressional representative and senator calling for a comprehensive immigration reform that provides dignity and justice for all.

Filed under: Migration

Advocates Urge Mexico to Protect Migrants in Transit

Central Americans Headed to US Suffer Kidnapping, Assault
SALTILLO, Mexico, JULY 13, 2010 ( ).- The director of a refuge for migrants in Saltillo is decrying a “humanitarian tragedy” that has involved thousands of illegal migrants who have been kidnapped or assaulted in Mexico as they travel toward the United States.

Gabriel Duperou, director of the Hostel for Migrants, along with Bishop Raúl Vera López of Saltillo, commented on the sixth report published by that institution regarding violence against migrants in transit.

The report laments that “political vacuums in various regions of Mexico, the collusion of authorities with criminals and the lack of access to justice are conditions that increase the vulnerability of the population that passes through the country en route to the United States.”

It is estimated that every year some 300,000 Central Americans cross the Mexican border illegally to go to the United States. According to data from human rights organizations, more than 1,600 people in Mexico illegally are kidnapped and assaulted each month in crimes that go unpunished.

“It is too bad that the security and migratory authorities do not duly attend to the problem of the kidnapping of migrants, particularly those coming from Central American countries, actions which are ever more violent and frequent,” noted Sister Leticia Gutiérrez Valderrama, executive secretary of the Mexican bishops’ migration council.

She said authorities do not take the matter as a priority, though the crimes are “a real act of barbarism, as [migrants] are tortured physically and psychologically.”

The nun explained that sexual assault is one of the most frequent crimes against these migrants, though it is not reported because the customary response is deportation.

Filed under: Migration

Pontiff Marks World Refugee Day

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2010 ( ).- On today’s celebration of World Refugee Day, Benedict XVI is calling attention to the needs of those who have been forced to move away from their homeland.The Pope stated this today after praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“Today the United Nations celebrates World Refugee Day,” he said, “to recall attention to the problems of those who have been forced out of their own land and familiar customs, traveling to environments that, often, are profoundly different.”

“Refugees desire to find welcome and to be recognized in their dignity and their fundamental rights,” the Holy Father affirmed.

“At the same time,” he continued, “they intend to offer their contribution to the society that welcomes them.”

Benedict XVI concluded: “Let us pray that, in a just reciprocity, there be a response adequate to such expectations and they show the respect that they have for the identity of the community that receives them.”

Visit Caritas Internationalis for more information on how the Church responds to refugees throughout the world.

Filed under: Caritas, Migration, Official Statements, Papal Teachings

Bishop speaks out about how migrants are used as pawns

U.S. bishops’ migration chairman writes for Politico: “Migrants pawns in Mexico-U.S. game”

Migrants pawns in Mexico-U.S. game
By: John C. Wester
May 19, 2010 05:03 AM EDT Mexican President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to visit President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, which is good news, considering the problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In fact, a strong relationship between Obama and Calderon may hold the key to the many problems affecting both the United States and Mexico domestically — drug-related violence, the economy and, of course, immigration.

One big misperception of the U.S. immigration debate is that if Congress could pass an immigration reform bill, it would be the magic bullet that kills illegal immigration.

Such a bill is indeed indispensable to a long-term solution and must be addressed — sooner rather than later. But it should be understood that the humane and lasting answer to this vexing social issue lies in regional, if not global, cooperation among nation-states.

Immigration is not just a domestic issue; it is keyed to foreign affairs.

If the world is a marketplace, then migrants and their labor help deliver the produce and stock the shelves. In other terms, while economically powerful nations hold the capital, migrants help fill the jobs needed to turn capital into profit. This important role in the world economic order should give migrant workers an honored place — with the appropriate legal and labor protections.

In North America, Europe and most places in the industrialized world, however, migrant workers are left without legal protection. They are characterized as criminals — as in Arizona — and blamed for myriad social ills.

The de facto migration relationship between the United States and Mexico is a prime example. Migrants from Mexico, unable to support their families at home, take a dangerous journey to the United States and fill menial but crucial jobs in the U.S. economy — dishwashers, farmworkers and day laborers, for example.

As a result, the United States receives the benefit of their toil and taxes without having to worry about protecting their rights — in either the courtroom or the workplace. When convenient, they are made political scapegoats and attacked — through both rhetoric and work-site raids — as if they were not human.

But Mexico also wins financially under this system. The country receives up to $20 billion in remittances per year — perhaps down to $15 billion during this recession — without having to pay attention to the lower rungs of its economy.

What is left is a “go north” policy that exposes Mexican citizens to the ravages of human smugglers, corrupt law enforcement officials and potential death in the desert.

The big losers in this globalization game are the migrants, of course. They have no political power and are unable to defend themselves from inevitable abuse and exploitation.

These migrants are pawns in a system that preys on their desperation and expropriates their work ethic. As in a chess match, they are expendable and at the service of the most valuable player, the king — in this case, the sovereign nations of the United States and Mexico.

As a moral matter, the United States and Mexico cannot have it both ways — accepting the labor and remittances of these immigrants without recognizing their basic human rights.

It is time for both nations to abandon this mutual “nod and wink” policy, not found in written law but still all too real.

In its place, they should reform their national immigration laws and enforce current labor and due-process protections, so that migrants can come out of the shadows and travel and work in a safe and controlled manner.

Over the long term, joint efforts could be pursued to promote development in communities now drained by the migrant outflow, so that Mexicans can remain at home to work and support their families.

At a minimum, both Obama and Calderon should strive to ensure that international economic agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement, do not devastate industries that hire low-skilled workers in their home countries.

Obama has indicated his support of U.S. immigration reforms and his interest in addressing the root causes of migration, like underdevelopment. Calderon has emphasized the need for job creation among Mexico’s poor, and he has acknowledged the continuing mistreatment of migrants within Mexico.

But neither leader has done enough to address these issues.

The state visit this week could be a good first step to help change that equation.

Together, the two leaders have the opportunity to reframe the immigration debate in a way that recognizes the effects of globalization on the movement of labor yet injects basic human rights principles into the system.

The world would take note.

They can also remind us — and the global community — that migrants, including those without legal status, are not goods to be traded but human beings to be protected.

John C. Wester is the bishop of Salt Lake City and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.

Filed under: Economic Policy, Fair Trade, Market Place, Migration, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Articles on Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration

The March 2010 issue of the Woodstock Report (from the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University) is dedicated to Immigration Reform. Articles by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Donald Kerwin, Thomas Reese, and several others include:
“Honoring Human Dignity and the Common Good: A Catholic Approach to Immigration Reform”
‘We Must Serve and Defend Them in the Public Square”
“No Person is Illegal”
“Were My Parents Criminals?”
“Love the alien as yourself”
“We Are All Sojourners Here”
“The Other”
“Crossing the Borders and Redefining Identity: Gener, Body and Space”

Filed under: Migration, morals, Social Doctrine, Social Justice