Archbishop José Gómez is the incoming Vice-President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is believed that he was elected, in part, because he is an immigrant himself and is the Archbishop of Los Angeles which has a high immigrant population. These things tend to give him credibility in discussing the immigration issue which is a top priority of the U.S. bishops. He has his work cut out for him given that a majority of Catholics voted for Donald Trump, who has pledged to deport 2-3 million criminal illegal immigrants. I would like to side with the bishops over the politician, but I just can’t because the arguments make no sense to me. One in particular is completely nonsensical. That is the “separation of families” argument.
This is how it appears below on Archbishop Gomez’ website.
Most of the 11m undocumented people in the US have been been living here for five years or more—two thirds have been here for more than a decade. Almost half are living in homes with a spouse and children. And right now we are deporting a lot of people—more than 2m in recent years alone. Most are not violent criminals. In fact, up to one quarter are mothers and fathers that our government is seizing from ordinary households…Politicians and media figures speak of “staunching the flow of illegal immigrants”. The reality is that in the name of enforcing our laws, we are deporting some little girl’s dad, some little boy’s mom.
This is supposed to tug at our heartstrings but the reality is that every time someone gets a prison sentence in America, we are separating them from their family. Often, we are separating them from their children. This does not mean that we should never imprison anybody. By the same token, those who break our immigration laws should be deported or imprisoned.
The bishops are supposed to defend the rule of law. Unfortunately, they are taking great pains to ignore the rule of law and even encouraging us to ignore the rule of law, too. This disregard for the rule of law is why we have protests in the streets both with the “Black Lives Matter” movement and with the anti-Trump protests. It is why young people are not respectful of law enforcement, clergy, teachers, elected officials, their elders, etc. A lot of what is wrong in America today is due to a disregard for the rule of law.
I hope the bishops will come up with some other arguments besides those that make us ignore the rule of law. The arguments they are using make no sense. In the meantime, it does make sense to have consequences for breaking the law, including immigration law. Trump makes sense. The bishops don’t. So Catholics like myself voted for Trump.