Monday, July 31, 2006

Christian Responses to Immigration

This weekend I have been attending the summer workshop of the Hispanic Theological Initiative during which a series of four short lectures were given on the question of immigration. Naturally, the responses were unflinching in their support of open borders and the compassionate treatment of undocumented individuals. At base, the presentations together argued that a Christian response to migrants cannot erect a wall on their path to sustenance. By confession, the church holds a significant responsibility to care for the pilgrim. Whether someone is seeking spiritual enlightenment or the basic necessities of life, the church must be committed to their well-being.

Most haunting was a pregnant question posed by Orlando EspĂ­n, professor of popular Catholicism and Latina/o theology at the University of San Diego. Legislation passed by the House but not the Senate would have criminalized any effort to aid undocumented migrants in any way. In light of this he asked, "If Congress made helping your neighbor illegal, how many of us would be acquitted due to lack of evidence?"