Donald Trump delivered a rather compelling speech on Monday about terrorism and protecting our country from those who would do us harm. As usual, the media, who praised Trump during the primary as an iconoclast who refused to play by the traditional rules, are now casting him as a lunatic who refuses to play by the traditional rules. So, typically, they have ignored the substance of the speech, which is that Hillary Clinton and President Obama have objectively made our country less safe by their mishandling of international relations, especially in the Middle East, and tried to make Trump sound at the very least unhinged when he spoke about establishing criteria to decide who gets to immigrate here.
Here’s what he said:
We should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people. Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas. (via politico)
In other words, the government’s purpose for “establish[ing] a uniform Rule of Naturalization” (the Constitution, Article I, Section 8) is to improve the safety, security and general welfare of its citizens. Let’s be clear: non-citizens do not have a right to become U.S. citizens, nor do they even have a right to enter our country unless we decide to let them.
As I mentioned in my first article, I am a Catholic and a Constitutionalist. I try my best to be a good Catholic and try to make sure that my Constitutionalist instincts fit within that framework. Fortunately, in the case of immigration, this is not that difficult. The Catholic position is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (clause 2241):
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.
Thus, according to the Church, the government has the right to establish conditions “for the sake of the common good” under which someone may immigrate. Of course, the immigrant also has the duty to “respect the heritage” of the U.S. when they come here. (One could argue that the reason we now have to press 1 for English is that immigrants since the passing of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act have failed to live up to this obligation, but that’s a separate discussion.) In short, they should be coming here to become American. So what’s the problem with vetting people who want to come here from regions of the world where Islamic terrorism is rampant and excluding those found unacceptable?
Putting aside for the moment the practicality and logistics of such an effort, is there really a problem with establishing an immigration policy like what Trump described? It is certainly Constitutional, and it appears to be Catholic as well. There’s just one little wrinkle. The first part of the clause I quoted from the Catechism states:
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.
Thus, the Catholic position would be that a blanket ban on immigration from certain countries or regions would be unacceptable because we must allow the truly persecuted refugee to come to our shores out of compassion. So where do we draw the line? All I can say is that by calling for “extreme vetting” – which would allow for admitting the truly persecuted – and temporary holds, Trump appears to be closer to the Catholic position than Clinton who seems to be ignoring her Catholic responsibility of focusing on the common good of American citizens, by whom she is hoping to be elected.
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The “Final Five” Show Us How It’s Done
The Left is Wrong About Rights
Ends, Means and Democrats
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