This summer I am working with immigration issues at the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach in Washington D.C.. Although immigration can be a complex issue, I will work for the side of human rights, not one country versus another. Catholic Social Teaching dictates that the life and dignity of the human person is of utmost importance. Consequently, immigration is a life issue. People often forget about the individual good of each immigrant—documented or undocumented. They see them as invaders and job-takers. Even the name “alien” implies an us-versus-them attitude.
Many people come across the border to escape violence and to provide for their family. They come to America to start a new life, seeking the so-called American Dream. But the odds are against them. They face money-laundering guides, harsh desert climates, border patrol, gun-toting citizens, and desert predators. Each one of these things can take away the dignity of the human person, leaving them with nothing.
Catholic Social Teaching sides with the human person regardless of nationality or race. Immigration policy in the United States often forgets the dignity of the whole person, once again pitting faith against patriotism. But U.S. policy can change. Small steps with bills like the DREAM Act allow migrants to live as citizens without fear of arrest, deportation, and dehumanization.