Busing migrants to states, another ‘long overdue’ recall reform
Over the past five months, the governors of Texas and Arizona have led an effort to transport asylum seekers and other migrants, processed by federal immigration officials at the US-Mexico border, to Washington and the New York metropolitan area. Indeed, governors are using migrants and refugees as tools to try to punish political leaders and jurisdictions for their positions that are more favorable to migrants and asylum seekers.
This new initiative has a historical precedent, and it is a negative precedent. It’s reminiscent of how some southern states bought bus tickets for reluctant black “migrants” and sent them to the Northeast after World War II. Even today, it’s sad to see people getting off the buses at all hours of the day and night, exhausted, disoriented, some temporarily homeless, and wondering where they should go.
Most of these migrants have no relatives or connections in the communities to which they are sent. Many wish to wait for the judgment of their case or their dismissal, but they have no choice in the matter.
In New York, some migrants are dropped off at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and some are sent to the offices of Catholic charities without any notice to city officials or our agencies. New York’s Catholic Charities agencies help by providing food and other essential resources, as is happening across the country.
Sharing responsibility for migrants and others in need is always possible in critical situations, but it must be done in a spirit of cooperation that respects those assisted. Certainly, the federal government could be more helpful to local authorities who are concerned about additional costs for social services and schools. Of course, local governments know how to influence the federal system, and some help might be on the way.
However, this humanitarian problem cannot be entirely solved at the local level. There are two potential solutions that can help stem the flow of asylum seekers. One would be to engage meaningfully in the treatment of refugees in countries where this is possible.
The second solution is greater international cooperation and focuses on the causes of displacement. The root causes of the departure of these people from their country of origin are poverty, violence, political repression, climate change and political instability. None of these conditions can be easily changed or improved, but they require much more serious attention.
The political rhetoric around this issue also needs to be addressed. One example is the baseless racist conspiracy theory that the government is trying to replace the white population with foreign-born people of color. The eventual votes of these imported people would be the motivating factor of this conspiracy. However, migrants and refugees take the fundamental ideals of the United States very seriously, contribute meaningfully to our communities, and have a range of opinions and political affiliations.
To some, this theory sounds like a practical explanation for the demographic shift taking place in our country, which is due to historically low birth rates.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is the alleged negative economic impact on US citizens and permanent residents. Reputable studies always find positive and negative aspects resulting from immigration in the labor market, but the overall impact is positive, especially when there are unfilled jobs in the labor market.
We need to stay focused on the real problem, which is that immigration reform is long overdue. Our current political system seems incapable of compromise, which is really at the heart of law-making in a democracy.
Immigration is in the national interest. Our immigration policies must be reformed based on the principles of Catholic teaching on migration. They should not be based on the political stunts we are experiencing today.
To read “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity,” a paper from the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers, visit usccb.org/committees/pastoral-care-migrants-refugees- travelers/welcoming -stranger-among-us-unity-diversity
Author Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio is the retired Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY. He writes the “Walking With Migrants” column for Catholic News Service and The Tablet.
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