(CNS) Immigration is 'key to American renewal,' says Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez

U.S. Catholics have a responsibility to bring a “faith perspective” to the current immigration debate and to keep in mind the “whole story” of immigrants’ role in this country’s history, said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez during a talk at the Napa Institute July 28 in Napa.

“When we understand immigration from this perspective, we can see that immigration is not a problem for America. It’s an opportunity. It is a key to our American renewal,” he said.

The archbishop was one of several speakers during the July 28-31 annual conference sponsored by the Napa Institute, an organization that promotes Catholic thought and apologetics.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

32 comments on “(CNS) Immigration is 'key to American renewal,' says Los Angeles Archbishop Gomez

  1. Creedal Episcopalian says:

    If by “renewal” he means “transformation into a Latin American banana republic” then we are well on our way.

  2. evan miller says:

    I hope he also meant “legal” immigration. Too often, the champions of rights and amnesty for illegals just use the term “immigration” as if there’s no difference between those who are here legally and those who are not. Their intention is to make anyone who opposses illegal immigration look like a nativist xenophobe.

  3. Cennydd13 says:

    I wonder how the Archbishop views illegal immigration? Does he consider it to be [i]not[/i] illegal but justifiable?

  4. Creedal Episcopalian says:

    Just call me a nativist xenophobe then. I’ve been called by many made up pejoratives; Its the modus operandus of the left.
    I just call everyone a bigot, because, deep down, you know it’s true. Well, depending on exactly what you mean by “bigot”, anyway. No made up words like “homophobe”

    It is natural for those who are less fortunate to desire the wealth of those more fortunate, even if they have to steal it. ( see the thread on warfare ). The problem here is that United States’ wealth is a result of a culture, a set of laws, and a mindset. Those that come illegally bring their own culture with them, and often refuse to assimilate. Eventually this brings the successful culture down, as the interlopers extract wealth from the victim culture rather than create wealth within it. It is a matter of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. Then everyone can be less fortunate.
    I think it was put: “thou shalt not covet”
    A more compassionate choice is to try to extend the benefits of a successful culture to unsuccessful ones through education. This can be managed with legal immigration and temporary residency programs. It does not have to rise to the level of colonialism.

  5. AnglicanFirst says:

    Our Constitutionally guided American Republic has historically worked well for us, excluding some infrequent excursions from that norm, over the past 220 plus years because it has been implemented by a people who possessed a cultural heritage that has permitted responsible governance.

    That cultural heritage has been primarily derived from the British Isles. And that cultural heritage has served us amazingly well. People can try to lay claim to the writings of French or German philosophers or philosophers of other nations as being somehow seminal to our culture. But the fact remains that our culture is primarily derived from that of the British Isles.

    When we look at North and South America and examine the success and lack of success in self-governance, two facts are clear.

    Those governments in the Western Hemisphere whose colonial history was attached to the British Isles have generally ruled themselves well through a democratic process. These countries are the United States of America and Canada.

    Those governments that were part of the Spanish colonial empire have a history of frequent political turmoil and non-democratic rule or questionably democratic rule or outright dictatorships.

    So when the good bishop says “Immigration is ‘key to American renewal,’ .” He is both right and wrong.

    He is right when that immigration continues an infusion from the rest of the world of people who come here seeking political freedom, economic opportunity, a willingness to assimilate quickly and thoroughly into the American culture, and to participate in our American democracy as well-informed and participative citizens.

    He is wrong if he thinks that a massive infusion of illiterate immigrants with no sense of or experience in responsible citizenship is going to have a positive impact on American society. He is wrong if he believes that people who have illegally immigrated should have access to government benefits paid for by others who legally immigrated to the USA or who were born citizens of the USA. He is wrong if he thinks that somehow, such an infusion will miraculously “at the wave of a magic wand of inclusiveness” suddenly become well informed citizens. He is wrong if he thinks that such an infusion will not be exploited by those who would use them as “wage slaves.”

    And finally, he is wrong if he thinks that such continued massive infusions, over time, will not negatively affect and diminish the British cultural heritage that has so effectively enabled our Constitutionally guided American Republic to rule itself so well in contrast to most of the rest of the Western Hemisphere.

  6. Hakkatan says:

    I had a book once entitled “God’s Englishman.” I only read a chapter or so; I had too many responsibilities to finish it. BUT – while it sounds at first as though it means that God loves those of British descent more than others, its thesis was what AnglicanFirst says above: our heritage of English laws, structures, and values are what has produced a people who can face challenges and take them on, and who know how to start businesses and keep them going and do so fairly. And the author was careful to point out that a Kenyan, an East Indian, a Chinese, a Native American can be “God’s Englishman” if they have imbibed and incorporated the values that developed in the British Isles under the influence of Christianity and Classic philosophy. Being an “Englishman” is a mindset, not a matter of biological descent.

    American has incorporated many ethnic groups, and the overall culture has been enriched through ethnic cuisines, holiday customs, and the like. But that which has hitherto given us our freedom and our economic power comes from that “English” set of values and convictions. Remove those, and the strength will depart

  7. billqs says:

    While historically, orderly immigration has been the key to American renewal, the ad hoc method currently being implicitly allowed runs the danger of overcoming our society’s ability to cope with the influx.

    Basically, we have the stakeholders behind the two major political parties carrying on a mutually beneficial deal in allowing ad hoc “over-immigration.” The Republican business owners see a source of cheap labor, which eventually works to depress wages as a whole, and the Democrats see a potential source of voters who, since they are often mired at the lower social eschelon of society, and who have varying degrees of understanding of the native language, are particularly likely to fall prey to left-wing government dependent “solutions”, even though they are mostly conservative on moral issues.

    What would decisively stem the tide of illegal immigration would be a prosperous safe Mexico. Most immigrants would not need to take off to the United States if there were good jobs at home near family.

    However, a better Mexico is for the Mexicans to try to create, and even though we have seen rosy unemployment numbers for Mexico in recent stories, there is still a huge narco-terrorist problem and much systemic corruption.

  8. Dan Ennis says:

    “Our Celtic fellow citizens are almost as remote from us in temperament and constitution as the Chinese.”

    Guess the speaker and the year!

  9. billqs says:

    I don’t know the speaker, but I would guess the timeframe was 19th Century during the Irish immigration after the potato famine.

  10. AnglicanFirst says:

    When I used the term “British” in my comment (#5.), I included not just the many regional types of Englishmen in England, I also included the Scots (who had a tremendous influence in America), the Irish, the Welsh, etc.

    In fact, it can be argued that our Constitutional concept of “impeachment” has its roots in the Scottish Declaration of Arbroath.

    Our concept of social mobility up and down the rungs of society most likely came from the Scots, the Irish, the Scots-Irish, and the Welsh much more than it did from the Norman-Saxon dominated English population.

    If you are interested in the mobility of Celtic society in general and the priveleges of its leaders, the limitations placed upon its leaders and the obligations of its leaders, then I recommend buying a book that discusses the Brehonic Code (pre-English Irish legal system). The laws outlined in this Brehonic Code were used by the Celtic peoples in general and as an orally transmitted code goes back several thousand years.

  11. Creedal Episcopalian says:

    [blockquote] the ad hoc method currently being implicitly allowed[/blockquote]

    Ad hoc? hardly. Here are the current immigration statistics by nationality [url=http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/imm_imm_to_the_uni_sta_ori_per_yea-united-states-origin-per-year ]Immigration to the United States > Origin > per year (most recent) by country [/url] Other than Canada, do you see any white european countries on that list? In the same way that the budget deal was about 2012, immigration statistics are about future elections. There is a real danger that our culture could be overwhelmed by political maneuvering.

  12. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    I live in TX. Don’t even get me started on what I think of illegal immigration.

    A small thing, but also just for the record, I have hung out on beaches for most of my natural life(my father was born in an ocean state and was a fantastic waterman by hobby)–it’s a good habit to never take anything valuable to the beach, but never did I EVER have anything stolen until visiting the beaches around Corpus Christi. And I hope the thieves were happy when they figured out they stole a cooler with a child’s medicine in it that had to be kept on ice. These are people with no shame.

    I mentioned it to a friend of mine upon returning home. He said, “That’s life in the border towns. I think they believe they can take anything they want, and if they figure out the cops are looking for them, they just temporarily slip back across the border. Next time if you want to go to the beach, go to one that’s not in a border town–the behavior there is a little better”.

    I don’t extrapolate that to everyone; we know a family that started a restaurant chain here years ago–whenever we go there, the place is packed, the food is good, and the staff are working their butts off. And therein probably lies the “rub”–they’re LEGAL immigrants.

    The Archbishop should be careful WHERE he carries his wallet.

    And my ancestors came here in the 1700’s from Germany and Britain–and, as far as I know, they didn’t steal–they WORKED.

  13. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    The archbishop expressed concern that the current immigration debates have put this country into “a new period of nativism,” which opposes immigrants and efforts to assimilate them.

    “This kind of bigoted thinking stems from an incomplete understanding of American history,” said Archbishop Gomez.”

    No it doesn’t. It comes from an understanding that we don’t want people to come here who are going to do nothing but terrorize, kill, steal, or mooch.

    If you want to follow the legal process laid out for emigrating here, by all means do. And feel free to assimilate, work hard, live long, and prosper; to quote Mr. Spock. But, if you don’t want to do all that, and/or are looking for “free lunch” or a pass on criminal behavior, STAY OUT.

  14. Cennydd13 says:

    Mine came from……guess where?…….Wales, and they too worked! Hard!

  15. Cennydd13 says:

    And they brought their language and culture with them……thank God!

  16. Teatime2 says:

    I used to live on the Texas-Mexico border and can verify Bookworm’s post. If it wasn’t under lock and key even on my own property, it would be stolen. Lawn ornaments, lawn furniture, a heavy park bench, heck, even the Welcome mat in front of my front door were all taken, either while we slept or were at work/school.

    And as teachers, we were warned not to have anything on our desks that we would miss. The kids felt entitled to “help themselves” to whatever they saw and wanted. I kept an eagle eye out and, whenever they’d pick up something, swooped in. I at least got them to the point where they’d ASK, “Can I have this?” so I could say “no” and reinforce that other people’s property shouldn’t be taken and wasn’t fair game.

    The problem is that people like Gomez have created this situation. I honestly don’t believe that in Mexico, everything thinks they can just help themselves to whatever they see and want. No, the overly-sympathetic and ridiculous campaigners have instilled an incredible amount of nerve and entitlement in them. They will assert their entitlement “rights” based on America being a “nation of immigrants” and portions of the Southwest originally being part of Mexico so this is really “their land.”

    Gomez and the other misguided campaigners ignore the studies that show how frightening American demographics will become if unfettered illegal immigration continues its course. The number of literate people will drop precipitously; fewer will have high school diplomas; VERY few will have college degrees; average family income will drop and many more people will be living in poverty.

    I wonder if churchmen like Gomez long for the days of “pray, pay, and obey” — when the RCC bishops and archbishops in Latin America wielded as much power as the governments they propped up? Is this the kind of thing he wants to see in America, where the hierarchy can organize the people , comandeer social causes, form a powerful bloc and deliver votes?

    Good Lord, deliver us.

  17. Teatime2 says:

    oops, that should be “everyone” in the first sentence of paragraph 3. Failed edit when I flipped the sentence, sorry!

  18. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    Thank you T2. Perhaps ++Gomez should start by reinforcing Commandment teaching–“Thou shalt not steal” is #8, I believe.

  19. Cennydd13 says:

    Teatime 2, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you knew how many times I’ve heard illegal immigrant activists say that they want all of the United States west of the Mississippi to revert to Mexico, since they claim it’s still theirs…..even though they stole it from the Native American tribes in the first place.

  20. Cennydd13 says:

    And the farthest North they ever got was Santa Fe, where they established trading posts.

  21. AnglicanFirst says:

    Cennydd13 (19),

    You are correct. Mexico’s claim to the southwestern United States is in reality just a claim to Spanish colonial outposts that fell into the hands of the Mexican governments that succeeded the Spanish colonial rule of Mexico.

    If any group has a claim to the southwest, it is those people who still live there and who are of native American culture (not Spanish).

    While our treatment of native Americans during the late 1700 through the 1800s is nothing to be proud of (politically it was the USA’s first major ‘progressive’ enterprise), the Mexican government’s treatment of them has been and is far worse.

    Take the massacre at Wounded Knee and multiply it by 1000 and you will just begin to understand the Mexican government’s historic brutality towards native Americans.

  22. Cennydd13 says:

    I have several Hopi friends, and they know of the claims being made by the Hispanic groups wanting half of the U.S. back. Without exception, they prefer the status quo, thank you very much!

  23. Teatime2 says:

    Yep, they have a lot of nerve claiming a chunk of our country is really theirs. That would be like Spain claiming Mexico never really won its independence and belonged to them.

    The ruling classes in Mexico are still very prejudiced against their people who are mestizo or native. And, y’all are right, they were brutal toward the Native Americans. Whenever I’ve encountered them claiming that this area belongs to them, I point that out.

  24. TACit says:

    19-21 or 22 take off on a strange tangent that is not supportable with historic evidence. The early Spanish explorers were accompanied and followed by missionaries who brought the knowledge of the Gospel to native American Indians throughout the Southwest and up through California (where btw the Russian Orthodox also were evangelizing in the 1800s, having come down through Alaska). I too used to buy into this revisionism that the Spaniards and Mexicans had no right to do that (yet of course implicitly, British and American people did), until in 2002 I had the interesting experience of visiting Taos Pueblo in late February and then the UK Lakes District where Cartmel Priory is, weeks later in early April. The Pueblo and the Priory were both constructed about 1000 years ago.
    At the pueblo we were lectured by a young adult Indian woman who lived in it about the adequacy if not spiritual superiority of their indigenous ways and the heinous sins of the white man – English or Spanish, American or Mexican. That was my tax dollars at work, no doubt! At Cartmel I pondered her ‘lecture’ in the light of the stone tracery, soaring architecture and more importantly the spiritual legacy of 2000 years of Christian believing and practise in the British isles. I imagined putting the two side by side since they were co-eval, and will never leave cultural relevance arguments unexamined nor fail to pointedly challenge them, again. The obvious benefits for humanity from the beliefs and practises Cartmel stands for (it is one of the few monastic houses not destroyed by Henry VIII and followers) needs to be defended and not shoved aside in favor of pseudo-relevant modern historical revisionism.
    One hopes that Abp. Gomez, who is after all Opus Dei, had in mind faithful practising Catholics of Indian, mestizo, Spanish or whatever extraction who further recognize that those who immigrate have a duty to learn the language and practises of their new nation. He after all is an English speaker, setting an example (I presume he didn’t give this talk exclusively in Spanish?). I agree, however, it would be more reassuring to hear him outright disavow any association with the goals of La Raza and other organizations that advocate ‘Aztlan’, which is more a mythical place in their minds, like the Palestine that some in the Mideast would like to return to.

  25. Charles52 says:


    That link contains the archbishop’s full address. Here is a part that may address some points raised above:

    In Catholic thinking, the right to immigration is a “natural right.” That means it is universal and inalienable. But it is not absolute. Immigrants are obliged to respect and abide by the laws and traditions of the countries they come to reside in.
    Catholic teaching also recognizes the sovereignty of nations to secure their borders and make decisions about who and how many foreigners they allow into their countries.
    Our government has the duty to consider immigration’s impact on the domestic economy and our national security.
    However, we must always make sure that we are not exaggerating these concerns in ways that deny the basic humanitarian needs of good people seeking refuge in our country.

  26. NoVA Scout says:

    Thank you, no. 25. No doubt many comments will now come in acknowledging that earlier comments were over-reactions.

    This is a topic that leads to people flying off the handle fairly dramatically at the slightest provocation. Politicians looking for easy votes know this, so they love to chum the waters with exciting anti-immigration tidbits. You can see in the comment thread how quickly the alarums reach such a din that reason’s voice is lost.

  27. AnglicanFirst says:

    I stand by my comments on this blog item.

    As noted in comment #25, the good bishop does make good points about immigration.

    Commentor #24’s comments are somewhat circuitous and ignore the fact that the historical evidence indicates that the colonizing Spanish government and the prosyletizing Spanish church engaged in what might be called a cooperative “corporatist synergism” in their conquering of the native American people.

    What the colonizing English King and Parliament did to the native Americans was in many ways a replay of what they had done to the native-born Irish during the plantation of Ireland. They essentially declared existing Irish land rights, aristocratic titles, church leadership, petty kingdom/tribal authority, etc. to be null and void or at least effectively so. They made non-entities (read invisible people) of those Irish who would not become English in their own land. They did much the same in Scotland, except there, they engaged in a sinister and multi-generation co-option and and conversion of the Scottish leadership that resulted in a Scotland of proudly Anglicized Scottish leaders. You might say that in Ireland they directly invaded and conquered and in Scotland they “slowly boiled the frog.”

    Now, in the English American colonies, they basically treated the native Americans as a non-people with no rights of ownership of their historic lands. When they engaged in land purchase from the native Americans, they engaged in fraudulent and deceptive practices knowing full well what the native American concepts of land ownership/occupancy ‘were and were not’ and they had no intention of honoring those native American concepts. Sort of like renting someone’s house and its adjoining property and then declaring it to be yours because you now lived in the house and on the property.

    However, that period of Spanish and English colonization is over and done.

    For those of us who live in the United States, undoing it is undo-able without causing great harm and damage to the United States and all of its people. We have, despite the errors of our ancestors, created “upon this continent” a great nation that has been and will continue to be “a light on a hill” to the rest of the world.

    Uncontrolled immigration and non-assimilation of massive numbers of illegal immigrants into the United States will in the end do great damage and harm to the United States. A continuing massive influx of illegal immigrants can very well bring our country to its knees through an unreversible loss of the cultural cohesiveness required to make our Constitutional Republic function successfully.

  28. NoVA Scout says:

    But do we have a “continuing massive influx of illegal aliens”? The data have their weaknesses (as do all data about illegal activity), but the general view is that the number of immigrants entering without inspection and the number of illegal immigrants more or less permanently in place in the US are down significantly over what was the case in the early part of the decade. Border control and general enforcement are way up and, probably most importantly, the economy is in such parlous condition that illegal immigration is not nearly the problem it was several years ago. Of course, none of this obscures the fact that we do need a massive overhaul of our immigration policies and mechanisms in order to attract immigrants who will strengthen the economic welfare of the United States.

  29. TACit says:

    Well, actually, it was rather part of my [i]point[/i] in #24 to say that the Spanish explorers and colonizers, in particularly the areas of the US now most in turmoil over Hispanic immigration, developed missions and evangelized among the indigenous Americans they encountered. You may call that ‘co-operative corporatist synergism’ if you like, but the fact remains that these Indians were thus Christianized. (This would be a stronger argument for French Jesuit missionaries in the mid-continent but that’s a digression.) It’s regrettable you did not understand my larger point, that [i]these Indians were Christianized[/i] by those Europeans, 500 years ago, rather than being left in their pagan, agrarian polytheistic ignorance as some seem to think they would prefer. For one thing, this conversion facilitated the continuance of their existence, we might say, unlike for example the Mesa Verde people who disappeared without a trace about 1000 years ago.
    You then develop a fancily worded case about the style of corporatist conquest engaged in by the English and later Americans. These conquerors wanted the land that their neighbors lived on, pure and simple, and to get it they murdered the neighbors, and forced to flee (thus the Irish are all around the globe!) or be subjugated any not killed; as well, they spread smallpox, alcoholism and other endemic threats to native peoples’ existence. Evangelizing those left to be subjugated after the rest were killed or gone was not a priority in this history of conquest, though it has sometimes been an afterthought. This is what happened from Cromwell’s invasion of northern Ireland to the Scottish land clearances to the Indian Wars of the US colonies and later the nation, and it hasn’t been very different in other British colonial lands, where in general the remaining indigenous people are rounded up and forced into restricted and deprived living situations – Indian reservations, Australian aboriginal ‘communities’, South African townships are all the result. It’s a sad irony in the US some of these rounded-up people have been those evangelized by Spanish or French missionaries to Indian communities, for example Archbishop Charles Chaput’s Potawatomie grandmother.
    The Spanish conquests were to a greater extent characterized by engagement of the native people in colonial development, which came to include even a lot of intermarriage, and this is why there are still so many Inca, Maya, Aymara and more, and many mestizo people; the Spanish did not kill off the native people they encountered to nearly the extent that the English and Americans did. Call that ‘co-operative corporate synergism’ if you like, but the descendants of all those not killed off by the Spanish are probably grateful for it. I wouldn’t want to make a defence of the life under that system, only point out the principal difference, that the English-American approach had been to kill off the natives and round up those left. Dead, or alive – I’d choose life.

  30. TACit says:

    I neglected to make clear that my #29 is a response mainly to #27, and also to thank #25 for the link to Gomez’ talk, which I read last night while waiting for the chilaquiles casserole for dinner to bake (and no, I’m not one iota Spanish or Mexican by descent. But what would life be without Mexican food??)

  31. TACit says:

    Actually, Charles52, the address by Abp. Gomez to the Napa Institute that is the topic of this post is different from the one he gave to the Knights of Columbus which you kindly posted a link for, though they do overlap slightly. The Napa one is linked at the URL given in the sixth paragraph of the body of this article:

  32. Charles52 says:

    My apologies, TACit and all. My link came through Whispers in the Loggia and I didn’t look closely enough. At least it resolved some questioned aspects of Abp. Gomez’ thinking on the subject.