Finally a reasonable voice in the sea of hysterics over Trump’s immigration policy: Why Catholics Need to Take a Deep Breath Over Trump’s Migrant Ban
“Yes, every country has the right to control its borders, who comes and who goes,” [Pope] Francis said, “and those countries at risk —from terrorism or such things— have even more right to control them more.”
In a remarkably apt passage of his Summa Theologica, Aquinas noted that the Jewish people of Old Testament times did not admit visitors from all nations equally, since those peoples closer to them were more quickly integrated into the population than those who were not as close.
Some hostile peoples were not admitted at all into Israel due to their historical antagonism toward the Jewish nation and the threat they posed to Israel’s security.
Immigration policy can take a variety of forms, and Catholic teaching has never sought to canonize a particular arrangement as the best or only one. The underlying moral principles guiding such policies are an openness to the stranger and the foreigner, balanced by attention to the common good of the nation, its ability to fully integrate immigrants into its culture and in a special way the security and safety of its citizens.
Whether President Trump’s executive order is the best prudential decision in contemporary circumstances is a matter of legitimate debate. Should the number of temporarily banned nations be seven or five or twelve? Is a three-month moratorium the ideal time frame to get America’s leaky vetting procedures shipshape? These and many other questions can and should be asked and people of good will may disagree on the answers.
But this is a far cry from treating the executive order as an evil or reprehensible act. Such summary judgments have absolutely no basis in Catholic teaching and merely reinforce prejudices against Catholic prelates as too quick to make pronouncements that overextend their competence and expertise. They also risk appearing to proceed from personal or partisan concerns rather than the good of the nation.
The President’s first duty is to protect the citizens of the country. Doing so responsibly can entail sacrifices and demands courage and prudence. If Catholic leaders wish to disagree with the way President Trump carries this out, they should do so respectfully, appealing to principles of Catholic teaching and the natural law, and not through innuendo, accusation and insult.