Refugees

My archdiocese is asking for assistance for refugee children from Central America. I often find Pewsitter headlines amusing, like their take on this:

Dubuque Archdiocese, Catholic Charities call for donations for illegal border flood support.

We’ve seen a lot of urging for support through archdiocesan communications to our staff. It’s also true that the numbers of refugees heading to Iowa have decreased. Foster homes are no longer being sought.

Is this a different kind of persecution than Iraqi Christians, who seem to be getting more sympathy from American conservatives? Seems like American misadventures overseas come back to bite somebody. Corruption in Central America. The Bush Wars in southwest Asia.

What’s the American response? Save a few kids out of guilt? Obligation? People who threw flowers at American troops or those who sold us our coffee and sweatshop clothing?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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4 Responses to Refugees

  1. jpsammon says:

    Hello, catholicsensibility ;

    We found your post of August 20th to be very disheartening;

    So we should feel guilty for trying to maintain the integrity of our national borders? We should let every family/person who wishes to migrate to our country ignore our borders and enter our country (house)? What about the rights of those individuals from around the world whose hope and wish it is to immigrate to the U.S, who have filled out all of required immigration forms, who have jumped through all of the DHS hoops, who have been “legally on line” for five, seven, nine or more years? Should Mexicans and Central Americans who sneak into our wonderfully fortunate country be put ahead of all of the foresaid, patient, hopeful, rule following, yet to be immigrants? By your post, I think I know your answer to all of my posited rhetorical questions.

    My wife and I have a 47 year old single son who has been recovering from a severe stroke which took place 3 & ½ years ago. We, his parents, are his main care-givers. For the past year we have been seeking public housing assistance for him from Catholic Community Services as well as from local county housing organizations and nearby urban housing organizations. Their answer to us? Your son is not considered a homeless person, therefore we are unable to help him. A nice, simple, clean-cut answer!

    Though we are unable to find housing assistance for our son from any of the above referenced sources, each and every one of those providers are willing to be tools federal, state and local government agencies in the welcoming and assisting (including housing) of illegal immigrants who have not contributed in any way to this wonderful country.

    A few personal facts for the record:

    * We are fellow Catholics; practicing, prayerful, generous and faithful.

    * Our son’s sole income is $ 771 a month from SSI !

    * Our son used to be an architect though he’ll never again be able to work in that field.!

    * My wife is a Naturalized American citizen.

    * I am a first generation American; my parents immigrated to this country in the 1920’s.

    * My wife is 75 years old, suffers from a bad back and has two new hips

    * I am 73, have recently had prostate cancer, suffer from life altering radiation damage as well as from heart disease.

    Let me suggest to you that in the future you be more Christian, loving, understanding and judicious with your insultingly simple comments:

    * Is this a different kind of persecution than Iraqi Christians, who seem to be getting more sympathy from American conservatives?

    * Seems like American misadventures overseas come back to bite somebody.

    * Corruption in Central America.

    * The Bush Wars in southwest Asia.

    * What’s the American response? Save a few kids out of guilt? Obligation?

    * People who threw flowers at American troops or those who sold us our coffee and sweatshop clothing?

    As for us, we will continue to pray and work for our son, trusting in God our Father’s loving mercy and his attention to our needs.

    Jim & Mary Sammon

    Washington State

    jpsammon@comcast.net

    _____

    • Todd says:

      Hello Jim & Mary,

      I’ll just observe that I took no direct position in my brief post. I commented on how Pewsitter often “updates” its headlines. As for the six “insults,” as you characterized them, numbers 1, 5, and 6 were questions. They weren’t necessarily rhetorical questions. But they suggest and invite answers that could be yes or no. You may have assumed that since I asked difficult questions, I was poking at American guilt or such. You might have been right, in part.

      Numbers 3 and 4 are subsets of 2. Have covert and overt American activities in Iraq and Central America contributed to unrest in those countries? Do we have any moral obligation in those instances to loosen immigration laws and practices? Should Iraqis move ahead of Salvadorans in line? Of Brits?

      There might be a delicious sense of justice in settling Iraqi refugees on the retirement ranches of Mr Bush and Mr Cheney. I wouldn’t advocate that. But it would bring a smile to my face.

      I’ll also make the observation that illegal immigrants pay taxes, work in businesses, and help support the American lifestyle you and I enjoy. They help make it possible for your table and mine to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables out of season, to cite one example. Their taxes support local and state government programs to the degree that other poor people do in your town and mine.

      Finally, I feel greatly sympathetic to your situation. But the lack of support for you and your son has nothing to do with how the nation deals with immigration. I don’t buy the zero-sum theory when it comes to large-scale human exchanges. Closed borders implies a certain lack of generosity–which is the institutional sin afflicting your family. A nation with a generous immigration policy is not likely to halt its generosity when it comes to caring for its own.

      After being widowed, my mother worked into her 80’s as a home health aide. She took care of people like your son, checking vital signs, providing medication, and such. It is more likely that an immigrant would take a job like that. Rarely a politician beholden to corporate interests gifted with a more generous retirement.

      I’m glad my post sparked some discussion here. Sometimes when one scratches the surface of outrage, one finds something different than opposition to the messenger.

      • jpsammon says:

        Thanks for the clarification. That said, you and we continue to be “miles apart” in our convictions and perceptions

        God be with you

  2. Todd says:

    I suspect we are a lot closer in the care of family members who suffer with long-term illnesses and challenges. Certainly we each have strong convictions as well. I find disagreements about perceptions to be mostly irrelevant among friends. It’s largely about listening and being open, especially when the commonalities outnumber the differences.

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