“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” These words, engraved inside the Statue of Liberty, speak to the unique character of our country as a nation of immigrants. Catholics derive their special concern for the immigrant from the many biblical accounts of immigration, from Abraham to Jacob, to the Israelites’ passage into and out of Egypt, to the flight of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph themselves out of their homeland. The Catholic Church supports reform of our immigration system that is merciful, charitable, and compassionate to those here simply working for a better life, while also recognizing the legitimate responsibility of the federal government to maintain control of our nation’s borders.
According to the Catechism, “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.”