Jesus and Illegal Immigrants?
By Domenico Maceri
The bill would also authorize state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws. In addition, anyone helping unauthorized immigrants to live or remain in the US could be charged with a criminal offense. That means that even churches or charities giving assistance to undocumented workers could become guilty of a crime. In essence, priests would have to ask immigrants for their legal status before giving them communion.If the US Senate were to approve the bill in its present form, it'd become a draconian legislation. Pessimists believe that it's already too late for the US Catholic Bishops' plan to have any influence. Those who see the control of the border as the solution to the immigration dilemma appear to control the agenda.Mahoney's plan is to ask priests to defy the law if the US Senate also approves the Border Enforcement Bill. This would be consistent with the Catholic Church history of sanctuary going back thousands of years. In the US the last example took place in the 1980s when some parishes provided assistance to Salvadoran refugees.It's unlikely that Catholic priests will be prosecuted for helping immigrants because the US Senate will not go along with the House immigration bill which is easily labeled anti-Christian and against the spirit of America as a country of immigrants.Sadly, most of the members of Congress who voted for it would probably call themselves Christians. Yet, they didn't think of asking themselves how Jesus would have dealt with the situation.Mahoney did consider what Jesus would do. He plans to speak more on the issue and will write elected officials like California US Senator Dianne Feinstein who opposes a guest worker program except in the area of agriculture.Cardinal Mahoney has a strong voice as the religious leader of the Archdioceses of Los Angeles, the largest in the nation, with 288 parishes and 5 million members.Yet, Mahoney will be attacked by those who see him as lacking moral authority, pointing to his weak hand in dealing with the Catholic priests' sexual abuse scandal.But Mahoney has a history of fighting for immigrants' rights. He opposed Proposition 187, approved by California voters in 1994, which denied benefits to undocumented workers.
Mahoney lost in that case, but he really won. When you're fighting for the weakest members of society, Christ is standing next to you. The only outcome is victory.
Other Articles by Domenico Maceri
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Domenico Maceri, Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara, teaches foreign languages at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, CA. His articles have appeared in many newspapers including Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Japan Times, and The Seoul Times. Some of his stories won awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.
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