As we honor of National Migration Week, January 4 – 10, with this year’s theme, “We Are One Family Under God,” the weekly digest CMS Migration Update honored us by publishing as its lead story a public statement by C. Mario Russell, Esq., director of Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services.
Recognizing an immigrant’s humanity is a prerequisite for genuine legal reform, Mr. Russell says in this thought-provoking address he delivered to the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at St. John’s University.
“Congress can treat whom it wants, how it wants, when it wants, and if it wants to at all,” Mr. Russell says:
“So why does this dysfunction exist? In my view it is because the immigrant person—the alien—is not considered a ‘person’ in the fullest sense under the constitution, what I have referred to as our social charter. For over 300 years, since ‘we’ first arrived, we have conceived of aliens (even those within our borders) as just that—beings who are outside of our sphere, as ‘other,’ and therefore, as people with diminished status—both existentially and on paper. And, this destines us to repeat a mistake time and again—that of designing laws and policies that are always reactive, not planful, that are product of crisis, not of intention. And so long as this is true, future generations of immigrants in America will not find their right place in society.”