The president, vice president, and chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently released a statement on the administration’s ending of the illegal DACA program, calling the action “reprehensible.”
You’ll notice I called DACA “illegal”. That is because President Obama, after going around the country in townhall meetings and correctly reminding frustrated supporters that he couldn’t just use executive action on immigration because he’s not a king, went ahead and did it anyway. Congress had not passed signficant immigration legislation since the 1980s, and was clearly divided about the issue. Thus, there are no grounds to claim that Obama’s action was merely implementing what Congress wills, or merely working out a vague spot in the law in accordance with Congress’s intent.
I do not remember the the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issuing a similar statement in response to Obama’s action, despite there being a strong case that his action was inconsistent with the common good, after which the Catechism of the Catholic Church requires those in authority to strive. Those in authority are to use their powers legitimately: “Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it.” But if Obama acted outside of his authority, he did not exercise his authority legitimately. Illegitimate use of power can undermine the rule of law, and that, of course, would undermine the common good.
The leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ failure to criticize illegitimate use of authority, and Trump’s reversal of this illegal program, is especially egregious in light of Trump’s clear indication that he doesn’t want to deport people:
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
Worse still is the Scriptural reasoning used to bolster their position on DACA:
The Church has recognized and proclaimed the need to welcome young people: ‘Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me’ (Mark 9:37). Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond.
Ah, yes. As you all know, the context in which Jesus said that was one in which he was addressing what modern nation-states should do about illegal immigrants! Such proof-texting is about as awful as I’d expect to hear from a redneck Southern Baptist pastor who hadn’t even gone to seminary.
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