Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cardinal Mahoney on Immigration Reform at Fuller Seminary

Cardinal Mahoney, Archbishop of Los Angeles Diocese spoke today at Fuller on immigration reform. The video of him reading his position paper/theologial statement should go up at Fuller's iTunesU site within the week. For now you'll have to settle for what scant notes I could tap out on my phone while running video.

The portrait is from the Q&A afterwards during which Cardinal Mahoney showed himself to be an amiable and able speaker on the fly. I think we were all impressed when he countered the plan to submit written questions by note card so it didn't look as if they were filtering out hard questions.

As anti-institutional as I tend to be (baptist that I am) it was intriguing to hear about the pressure that one man through the structure of a something like the Roman Catholic church can exert to help give voice to the voiceless. Dr. Juan Martinez thanked him for his stand against a proposition that would have made it illegal to even help or offer assistance of any kind to an illegal immigrant. When Cardinal Mahoney spoke out saying he would disobey any such unjust law it cleared a path for many protestants of all kinds to do the same.

The most challenging question came from a young man who asked, as an employer, how he should behave in light of his conviction that the laws regarding immigration are outmoded and unjust when illegal immigrants come to him for employment. Cardinal Mahoney was balanced in reminding us that we do not want to become a nation of people who only obeys the laws they feel like obeying. He then offered the workaround used by some of his friends who work in agriculture who turn the buerocracy against itself by submitting the social security numbers for verification on the 59th of the 60 deadline after employment. Then upon recieving notification from the government office 90 days later that the number is invalid, they must terminate the employee (after 150 days of employment). If the employee comes back with another number the process can begin again.

While I understand that this might seem dishonest to some, I appreciate the way that it obeys the letter of the law and in so doing spotlights the way in which the current law and policy simply do not make sense in light of the current global and economic situation. We cannot put up a no trespassing sign on the border and help wanted window in our shops. We cannot have it both ways.

-In catholic thought the economy exists to serve the people rather than the people to serve the community.
-Legal structures have not kept up with globalization.
-Migrants fill the role of turning capital into revenue.
-Us recieve the benefit of labor an taxes but do not have the burden of protecting them.
-This benefits both Mexico and USA
- Immigrants pay income, property, sales taxes and social security without benefiting from the latter. Studies have shown that immigrants in America pay in much more than they use into social support.
-Migrants are pawns in a system that preys upon their desperation and expropriates their labor.
-40% immigrants come on visas and just don't leave
-only 5000 visas each yr for unskilled labor

-The [Catholic] Church supports An overhaul of immigration law
-The pathway to citizenship would be:
Learn English, pay a fine, and work six yrs of work before earning citizenship
- This would be exacting a penalty for an offense (not amnesty) but injustice of law mitigates penalty exacted
-A comprehensive approach will help us secure our borders


  1. I'm very bummed that I missed this today. Sounds like it was a fascinating discussion.

  2. It was good. Everyone was bit nervous afraid there would be some major embarrassment or faux pas but everything went well.


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