Cardinal Dolan began a month-long immigration reform effort by the Catholic Church with an extended op-ed piece in the Daily News today. Dolan makes the moral argument that “no one can be proud of the enormous underclass of undocumented workers that’s been allowed to form — millions of our neighbors who live on the margins, have their families fractured and are easily exploited.” He says that it is not just for Americans to profit from the work of immigrants without according them a real place in our society.
Dolan’s engagement with this issue comes from the Church’s involvement in the lives of the poor. He writes that:
Every day, our parishes and charitable organizations encounter people struggling to make a new life for themselves and their families. We meet families who run the risk of being torn apart. We meet migrants who risked dangerous desert passages to get here. We meet young immigrants who want to get an education, find a job and raise a family like countless others before them.
The Cardinal takes on the Ayn Rand crowd in the conservative movement who see workers as “takers” mooching off of the rich. Dolan writes:
Those who caricature these immigrants as “takers” couldn’t be more wrong. The plain fact is that immigrants, including those who are undocumented, make great contributions to our economy. They spend their wages on goods and services and also start their own businesses, driving economic growth and employment in their communities.
Congress comes back to Washington next week. If immigration reform is to pass this year, it will have to be in the next sixty days. Now is the time for our houses of worship to engage in the moral discussion of immigration reform.