The Holy Family’s Exile and Today’s Undocumented

Merry Christmas to everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts the past 2 months, so much so that WordPress had to double-confirm my identity before I could log in to post on my own blog!

Anyway, I’m temporarily suspending my hiatus to remark on an article in today’s Miami Herald on a Christmas Day Mass celebrated by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at the Krome Detention Center west of Miami, where scores of undocumented immigrants are held. The focus of the Herald article written by Daniel Shoer Roth was to show Abp. Wenski’s compassion for the detainees. No doubt that the Archibishop’s Christmas Mass was a blessing for those folks, and we should all be thankful for his time and dedication to bring hope to people who are far from home and their families this time of year.

What I found curious in Roth’s article was his quotes from Abp. Wenski’s homily regarding the “undocumented” status of the Krome detainees:

“We are sure Joseph was not delayed trying to obtain a visa to cross the border…That is why we can say that Jesus was a refugee and an undocumented immigrant.”

This, of course, is in reference to the Holy Family’s exile to Egypt following word that King Herod had ordered to kill all young male children in Bethlehem (cf. Matthew 2: 12-18).

It’s important not to judge a homily based on a few snippets pulled out here and there. Therefore I will refrain from implying that Abp. Wenski is equating the fleeing of a murderous ruler to today’s undocumented immigrants. After all, if we apply modern-day U.S. immigration policies to the Holy Family’s plight, they would have been welcomed and granted protected status.

I will, however, question whether Daniel Shoer Roth is trying to establish that link. It’s clear to me that to compare the Holy Family’s exile to the majority of today’s immigrants (both legal and illegal) is flawed and biased thinking. We can, and should, treat undocumented immigrants with respect. That doesn’t mean that the laws of a sovereign nation, providing they are within the bounds of reason and human dignity, should be violated purely out of sympathy for one group of individuals.

Advocates for immigration rights should focus, IMO, on increasing the amount of visas granted to those who want to come to this country as well as making the legalization process much more efficient. We ought to feel sorry for the undocumented, and our current practice of keeping them “in hiding” damages their dignity as much as all the familiar reasons anti-illegal-immigration advocates bring up as negatives. However, equal, if not more, sympathy should be directed at those who seek legal and correct means to enter this country but are continually thwarted by bureaucracy.

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One Response

  1. […] Bishops Statement on Immigration Posted on January 6, 2011 by Robert Molleda Recalling an earlier post on Archbishop Thomas Wenski’s Mass at Krome Detention Center, I’d like to point out a […]

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