'When Did We See You a Stranger?' Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on Immigration

A Catholic leader says that supporting immigrants' rights is what God wants him to do.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrickCardinal Theodore McCarrick is the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. and one of a growing number of religious leaders who advocate immigration reform. He spoke with Beliefnet recently about the U.S. Catholic bishops' stance on immigration and the criticism the bishops have faced.

In your speech at the D.C. rally on April 10, you said, "We do not deny that every government has the right and the duty to control its borders. We accept and defend that right, but we are not doing it today in a way that is either efficient or humane." What's a moral, humane way to control borders? If you were in charge of the laws and the border control, what would you do?

I'm very glad I'm not in charge, because it's a very difficult question. But we have experts who have to do that.


Everyone should be open to having other people come into their country, for good reason. We're America, a nation that only exists today because people were allowed to come in to try for a better life, to escape persecution or great poverty. Every nation should have some opportunity for people to come in; otherwise they become lost in being nativist, protectionist, and isolationist.

Once that is said, a nation should be able to say "I only want a certain number to come in," so that there is a natural growth and a natural flow. But because [we] have not had an effective policy, millions of people are living in a shadow.

That's where morality comes in. If they're doing bad things, obviously you can get rid of them. But if they're trying to raise a family, making a contribution to our economy by paying taxes, working in areas that other people don't want to work at, and bringing values to our country--values we sometimes tend to lose in our secular society--then you have to take another look at the immigration policies of the United States.

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