By Deal Hudson

Last week I signed, with several dozen other “conservatives”, a letter supporting the immigration legislation supported by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

My decision to sign was motivated, in part, by the ridiculous attacks on Sen. Rubio, such as that of the venerable National Review, which was once the flagship of the conservative movement.

It is now apparently trying to win back an audience by replacing the mellifluous voice of Bill Buckley with the screechiness of Glen Beck wannabes. (How sad — this was the magazine my great Aunt Lucile Morley of Austin, TX made sure was delivered to my post box for decades starting at age 15.)

Sen. Rubio’s effort is right and just on every level.

It is right politically; if the GOP loses the Hispanic vote it won’t win another national election for a century. It is right philosophically; if the United States, if “America,” stands for anything it is the willingness to receive, if not to always welcome, the immigrant (more on this later).

It is right legally; the presence of millions of undocumented immigrants – and a ridiculously porous border with Mexico – requires legislative action that will start, however slowly, to document those who deserve it and bring stability to our borders.

That Senator Rubio has become part of a bi-partisan group should not, in itself, become an invitation to mock his effort. How else can any legislation pass in a divided Congress?  As we said in our letter:

“This legislation is not perfect….We are encouraged by the starting point that Senator Rubio and his Republican colleagues have gotten leading liberals in the Senate to agree to.  We believe they are working in good faith to improve the bill and we support a fair, open and transparent legislative process.  We ask that conservatives in the Senate work to improve the legislation.  America needs immigration reform.”

As a Catholic, I might be accused of simply following the dictates of the U.S. Catholic bishops on this issue, who have long, and vigorously, campaigned for immigration reform.  As a matter of fact, I have been a critic of their stated rationale for reform, in spite of my support for reform going back to the sulphuric debates of 2005.

The Catholic bishops have yet to explain satisfactorily how the “right” of immigrant in search of his or her economic good completely trumps the “right” of nation to protect its borders and citizens.

The Catholic view as most often stated by the USCCB may seem to some to make the immigrant’s struggle to sneak across our border some sort of heroic, spiritual exercise. This is an argument which has not helped the cause of immigration reform among many Catholic voters.

For the record, I think a thoroughly Catholic argument for immigration reform can be made without creating a briar patch of conflicting arguments about rights.

The legislation supported by Sen. Rubio does not give the Catholic bishops all they want, at least those who have controlled the public argument.  But it provides a bi-partisan starting point. As we point out:

“The immigration bill being taken up in the Senate is an important starting point in the effort to improve what even those opposed to the bill agree is a failed and broken system.  The bill includes triggers to insure border security and interior security before any immigrant is given permanent legal status.  It includes a guest worker program that moves us toward a merit-based system.”

Senator Rubio has taken the lead in the immigration debate by doing the right thing and deciding not to care about the whining right.
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Deal W. Hudson is president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network

6 Comments

  1. illero on May 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Isn’t it odd, though, how “doing the right thing” always seems to correspond with what we ourselves see as the “right thing”? I’m sure that millions of folks out there sincerely do not believe this is the right thing to do. Myself, I am somewhat agnostic, since I hear that “only” the first 150 pages of the 850 page bill pertain to the issue of handling illegal immigration and illegal immigrants. I have heard buzz about some bad things that are in those other 700 pages — pages that most of our elected officials will never read.

    • quinersdiner on May 14, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      It’s always scary the things that get hidden in a bill that can do much damage down the road.

  2. aquinashomeschool on May 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    This is an area that I find really difficult to reconcile as a Catholic and a conservative. On the one hand, I wonder what people are really facing in Mexico especially to decide to take all the risks involved in moving illegally to another country with another language in hope of making a better life for oneself and one’s family. Is it merely hoping for “the American dream” or is it done in order to literally feed and clothe their families? The Church says that it is the right of individuals to migrate in order to support their families.

    On the other hand, in an American economy where millions are struggling to find jobs or to make life work financially on far less than they had in previous jobs, more promises of enforcement of the borders later along with legalization of those who broke the law to get here is a real problem. Will we be competing for jobs with an extra 12 million individuals? I think if the bill passes, it may well mean the status quo in terms of border enforcement sadly, but it may become even harder for people who live here legally now to find a job.

    One thing I definitely think is a very bad idea is guest worker status. It creates what could become a very ugly class system down the road in America that is not conducive to a nation where everyone is free and equal. Think of ancient Rome and the difference between citizens and everyone else.

    • quinersdiner on May 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      I agree, tough issue for a Catholic conservative.

  3. Monte Gray on May 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    On this issue I agree with you. I think Marco Rubio has presented a plan that helps address the immigration issue. Not only do they pay a fine for breaking the law, but they still have to wait in line for those who’ve applied to come and work here legally. My opinion on illegal immigration has evolved over the last year or two. I no longer condemn the poor smucks who come here trying to make a living. I condemn the American employers who refuse to verify their status and employ them because they’re cheap labor. If I were in their shoes I would be trying to come here also. It does not excuse illegals breaking the law, and our country has every right to control it’s borders. But Rubio has a good plan. Now you just need to convince Senator Grassley, and Representative King to support it.

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