I get uneasy when I see my fellow Catholics, themselves the grandchildren of immigrants, speaking so disparagingly about “illegal aliens.” Let’s just remember, that, for most of U.S. history Catholics, regardless of how they arrived in this nation, were considered suspicious because of their primary allegiance to Rome and the wretched legacy of religious wars in Europe. The Know-Nothing political party, which had a majority in Congress in 1860s, had anti-Catholicism as its platform. This anti-Catholic bigotry lasted until the JFK presidential campaign and may still be seen today.
We Catholics are to give a better example to our nation. Hispanic immigrants are our sisters and brothers in Christ, not hostile invaders bent upon our destruction. By the year 2030, they will comprise 50 percent of our Church. If that frightens you, then you know how my Irish ancestors felt to see the great numbers of my Italian and Polish ancestors arriving in New York. Regulation of immigration, including learning English, yes, but prohibition and deportation, no.
Who else will pay into our Social Security System, since we no longer want to have large families? Whose hard labor will build our towns? Whose enthusiasm at becoming citizens will remind us of our blessings? Who will remind us our our often neglected devotion to the Blessed Mother, by their fervent piety and colorful feast days?
As a bilingual catechist, I brought four Hispanic teens to the March for Life and watched their enthusiasm for the cause of the rights of the unborn take hold. I feel optimistic, that with our expression of Catholic solidarity, they can be, as all immigrants have been, an invaluable asset to the spiritual life of the Catholic Church in the United States.
Leticia C. Velasquez