T’is the Season for Misplaced Compassion

It should not be limited to just a few weeks out of the year, but come December, the words, “Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men” seem to resonate a little more for most of us. “Peace on Earth” may be beyond our capacity, but “goodwill toward men” is something each of us can practice 365 days a year. We Americans can take pride in the fact that as a nation and as individuals we are the most generous people on Earth. Surveys tell us that Americans are the most charitable people in the world, in good times and in bad.

It is a proper and necessary function of our religious leaders – of all faiths – to remind us constantly that we must always be looking out for ways to do more for those in need. In that spirit, I will ascribe the best of all possible motives to a recent letter signed by 33 of the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. In the letter, released on December 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the bishops call, yet again, for amnesty for illegal aliens and immigration on demand for those who wish to come here. “We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is in the image of God, and therefore possesses infinite value and dignity.”

I have but one word in response: “Amen.” As a public representative of the nation’s most prominent organization advocating enforcement of immigration laws and more limited immigration, I remind myself every day that every human being must be treated with respect and dignity. On that score, there is no dispute between FAIR and the Catholic bishops.

But here is where we part company. The bishops, like many other religious leaders, look at immigration solely from the perspective of the immigrants themselves. Of course immigration always benefits immigrants. No one picks up and leaves one country for another – legally or illegally – unless it serves some very substantial self-interest.

But what the bishops and many other sincere people consistently overlook is the impact that mass immigration has on the lives of many millions of their fellow Americans. Mass immigration, legal and illegal, affects people’s jobs, their ability to command a living wage, their children’s educations, their tax dollars, the nation’s environment – in short, everything that is important to them.

In reality, what the bishops and other religious leaders are advocating is not charity. There is no moral, ethical, or religious code that allows one to be charitable with other people’s resources. The parish priest in the pulpit cannot be charitable with the construction worker in the pew’s job. He cannot ask the woman in the church choir to sacrifice the ability of her children to get a quality education when those kids find themselves in overcrowded classrooms, where half the kids don’t speak English.

The Catholic Church is right to be concerned about the plight of those who want nothing more than a better life for themselves and their kids. Fortunately, the Church is uniquely positioned to be a force for positive change. The majority of illegal aliens and prospective migrants hail from countries in which the Catholic Church is a powerful force and a voice of moral authority. Perhaps no entity could be as influential in bringing about much needed social, economic and political reform in the Latin American countries that are the source of so much out-migration.

The Catholic bishops have no moral authority to impoverish or disadvantage people in this country to benefit people who have broken our laws. They have all the moral authority of the Bible to use their influence and considerable financial resources to affect change in countries that ignore the most basic interests of their citizens. In doing so, they might not only exhibit “goodwill toward men,” but would go a long way toward fulfilling the ultimate goal of “peace on Earth.”

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    I’ll take issue with the words “misplaced” and “compassion” here. The Catholic Church’s policy toward illegal alliens has nothing to do with compassion, and it is very well calculated instead of “misplaced.” What’s is the mission of any church? To spread the fraith, fill the pews and the collection plate. Will illegal immigration help the Catholic Church do just that in U.S. territory? Undoubtedly. And so their bishops and priests support and promote it with everything they have got. And they will never change that. Although none of the popes has said it publicly, I think it would not be a stretch to say that the Vatican would like nothing less but to establish Catholicism as the dominant religion in the United States, just as they wanted to establish it in the Levant and other parts of the world in the era ot the Great Crusades. And illegal immigration of Catholics into the U.S. — given its scope and intensity — gives the church a golden opportunity to achieve just that. Never forget that the Vatican has never accepted or reconciled itself the Reformation, which gave rise to Protestant denominations. And when the European powers in 1555 reached the so-called Peace of Augsburg, under which they pledged not to fight religious wars anymore, the pope of the time, Innocent X, declared the treaty “null, void … demnable, reprobate” and “inane.” And that was, if I am not mistaken, the Vatican’s last word on the subject. That’s why I am appalled by our tendency to treat illegal immigration and a third-rate issue that may or may not be addressed in the nearest future. Many of us will rue that day. The influx of illegal migrants into the country opens the Pandora’s Box of so many monumental changes in every aspect of our lives that one day, we may wake up and not recognize our own country. But by then, it will be too late to fix it.

    • avatar

      Isn’t this the job of every other religion? Christians will go to foreign countries to christianize the population because their religion is the best. Catholics are christians too.

    • avatar

      I concur. The only thing I ever liked that bore the name “Augsburg” are the diesel engines produced by the firm of MAN (Munich, Augsburg, Nurnburg) L.O.L.
      I’m a strong believer in separation of church and state. Interference in American domestic population composition It is no more palatable when done by the vatican than it would be if it were some mid-east cleric.

  2. avatar


    Mexico’s biggest export: POVERTY


    Lou Dobbs Tonight
    Monday, February 11, 2008
    In California, League of United Latin American Citizens has adopted a resolution to declare “California Del Norte” a sanctuary zone for immigrants. The declaration urges the Mexican government to invoke its rights under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo “to seek third nation neutral arbitration of ….disputes concerning immigration laws and their enforcement.” We’ll have the story.
    Mexican President Felipe Calderon is in New York today on the first leg his five day tour across America to meddle in immigration issues in the United States. This is his first visit to the U.S. since he became President in 2006, but he will not meet with President Bush or any of the presidential candidates, who he has accused of spewing anti immigrant rhetoric. Join us for that report.

    These examples of illegal immigrant crime depict a growing menace to our functioning society. While a sleepy American public watches idly and a Congress refuses to enforce our borders while mayors adopt the ‘sanctuary policy’, we citizens receive an average of 2,200 illegals every 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days per year. Since the Amnesty policy was announced, the invasion intensifies with greater numbers.

    • avatar

      I can’t blame anyone for wanting something for nothing. It’s just part of the human experience. My ancestors in the United States built and paid for roads, schools, hospitals, the telecommunications network, the electrical grid, canals, dams, the entire industrial complex of this country was built by the sweat and toil of millions of Americans for Americans. Now it seems there are millions of unfortunate, pennyless, starving refugees all over the world that think they have some sort of claim to what doesn’t belong to them, just because they exist. Well, I have news for you all. That isn’t how it’s going to work. If you want schools to educate your children, build schools. If you want hospitals to cure your sick, build hospitals. If you want food to feed your starving masses, grow food. There will not be a world welfare office that is going to supply you with all the things that you need that you’ve failed to plan for.

  3. avatar

    Three generations of liberation theology and cultural Marxism (aka multiculturalism), have taken their toll on our men (and women) of the cloth. Today’s mainstream “Christian” clergy worship at the altar of “diversity”. They have adopted the bourgeois bohemian perspective of the New Left and consequently are always seeking edgier-than-thou ways to demonstrate their pious tolerance and compassion for “the other” (“Come, my foreign brothers, and help yourselves to my neighbor’s tax money, job, and country.”). The behavior of the mainstream clergy throughout this 40 year immigration crisis has been a disgrace and the steady decline in Church attendance is one of its more obvious results.

    • avatar

      I am a Catholic, and I’ve left the church, [I still pray and so on!] why? cause I’m sick and tired of the bishops sticking their noses in politics, save their souls, and don’t tell us how to run the country! Stick the church stuff! Abortion, divorce ,hearing confessions! and so on! I do my share best I can, helping the poor and that sort of thing, but when the church tells me it’s Ok to have illegals here that have broken the laws, using up welfare intended and paid for by Citizens of America, that’s it! Leave me alone!! I guess the Mexicans give more money to the collection here than in Mexico, while they earn more here and take our jobs away! All I can say to the bishops, now u know why people are leaving the church! Surely it’s a sin for the bishops to encourage breaking our laws. so they can earn more of our money to put in the collection plate on Sundays! Now u see why people left England to get away from the all powerful bishops, that were controlling the every move of the parishioners Now they’re here doing the same thing! No, I’m not anti God, just sick of MY bishops and their pushy ways!

  4. avatar

    The Catholics are not alone. Mormon support for illegals blunted important legislation in Utah last year and prompted the passing of legislation that paves the way for Utah becoming a sanctuary state. –All this was at the behest of the Mormon hierarchy.
    Knee-jerk, politically correct compassion is all that it is. And compassion that only includes the rights of the few is no compassion at all.
    Most Churchmen and many liberals refuse to acknowledge illegal immigration as a crime. They simply will not admit that there are victims. –This is the biggest obstacle towards rational, and truly compassionate immigration policy in this country.

  5. avatar

    Why is it that the Catholic Church doesn’t understand the word, “illegal” and if they come here illegally, then they are breaking the laws of our Country. I’m also Catholic, and I”m sick and tired of how we should have compassion and welcome them. They need them to fill the pews because so many Catholics have left the Church due to the activities of some priests, The priests don’t act or dress like a priest should and the nuns today don’t dress so you know they are nuns. If the Chruch is expecting these new members to put money in the collection basket, don’t hold your breath. I’ve lived in South America and the members of the Church there expect the Churches to “take care of them” and contribute very little money to the Church. I resent the fact they don’t want to learn English, and am sick and tired of having every product I buy having both English and Spanish listed. My Grandparent came to this Country in the late 1870’s from Germany, legally, and quickly learned English. I think we can than Bill Clinton for this.

  6. avatar
    Diane Latterell on

    Thank you for your well written insight. As usual the Catholic Church leaders are so full of words of hollines with no action nor sharing their wealth to in fact make a difference in the lives of those they are to serve. It would be such a nice Christmas present to US citizens/tax payers; if the church would do what they are called to do by the BIG BOSS!

  7. avatar

    It never amazes me how the hierarchy of the catholics always seem to want all these great things at someone elses expense. The Vatican is the richest country in the world. But do you see them flying plane loads of food and medical supplies to Haiti, Africa, or anywhere else? and I sure can’t find in the bible anywhere that Jesus says it’s alright to break the law or to reward those that do. I’m not prejudiced at all. and there is a system set up for those that want to come here so there’s no excuse for illegals. And just how compassionate were they being when they overran my trade with cheap labor putting me out of work I might add. If the catholics were so concerned about the welfare of these poor lost souls they could certainly afford to help them out in their own country, using some of that money to create jobs and housing in Mexico thus helping out both the U.S. and mexico during these rough financial times.

  8. avatar

    As a life-long Catholic, I am embarrassed by the stance of the Bishops in this country. After speaking with our religious advisor at our parish and researching illegal aliens in the Cathecism, I cannot find anywhere that it says Illegal aliens are allowed to come to this country or any other and just take what they want, in fact, the Cathecism is clear that they can only come if it is the will of the country they want to come to and they must obey those laws. I have written to my Bishop here in Dallas but he continues to pander to the illegals and the Church seems to think these people will be the salvation from their dwindling numbers but I disagree. The 90% of illegal aliens who are of Mexican or South American descent only know Our Lady of Guadalupe, not the true teachings of the Church and they certainly have not been taught the difference between right and wrong that I was taught growing up Catholic. Mr. Mehlman was actually too kind in his asessment of our Bishops – they are wrong and they will pay the consequences if not here on earth but in Heaven. There is a devil in our Church and this is a prime example of it!

  9. avatar

    This comes from a hard fought war against the entire history of our founding fathers to dirive from a narrative of greedy WHITE MEN. If anyone had any nerve at all, they would look at this history with open eyes and see how both brown and black people have played an important role in our founding of this country. The freedom of all color in this country would not have been possible with all these greedy white men, it would not have been allowed. So why is it? Because there were more freedom, mankind brotheren loving white men then there were not. But this isn’t the story we are repeatedly beating over the head with. So protesting something you have been reverse educated on would prove the end results of what we are witnessing now. It isn’t that we are as UNeducated mass of citizens, it is that we are a pathlogically educated mass.

    • avatar
      Tired of Illegal Aliens on

      Nina: Your attempt at turning this commentary into a racial agenda proves that you are a racist whether you believe that or not. Educate yourself on the impact illegal immigrants have on these “brown and black” people and you find that their quality of life has been negatively impacted as a direct result of illegal immigration. Educate yourself and stop playing the race card! Racism is born out of the race card!

  10. avatar

    An old boys’ club of celibate men who’ve never had to feed a family and believe that nothing is so glorious the end of the world has nothing to teach us about how to conduct our sex lives, or manage our procreation, or control our population, or our economy, or our future.
    The Catholic Church has no “moral authority” at all — not after the Inquisition, nevermind recent reminders of its virtue. It is more afraid of sex and condoms than of AIDS. Let it demonstrate that its opposition to abortion makes any sense — birth being an obligate gateway to Hell, simply ask what is the fate of the unborn soul (at least 10% of us, likely over half of us, google it) — then let it explain the Inquisition, and Galileo – if it could do that, we might begin to listen to it. But it cannot.

    • avatar
      Tired of Illegal Aliens on

      Wolfie: Your rant about Cathilicism and Catholic’s beliefs are unwarranted and really not of any value to this forum or is it relevant to Mr. Mehlman’s commentary. I, an unemployed, Catholic, American am disgusted with this letter; not because it was written by fellow Catholics, but because it was written.

  11. avatar
    Tired of Illegal Aliens on

    Well written Mr. Mehlman. I couldn’t have stated it any better. I, an unemployed, Catholic, American, took great offense upon hearing of this “letter” signed by dozens of Catholic Bishops. In addition to your writing, Jesus was a law abiding citizen and teaches us that consequences exist for law breakers. The naysayers should refer to The Ten Commandments for further…

  12. avatar

    The Catholic priests are only interested in one thing: increasing their own power and influence and wealth. They all should be jailed and/or deported for being traitors. They want bigger congregations and more money in the collection plate and more political influence – and to hell with those law-abiding citizens who live here.

  13. avatar

    Another great response of clarity from Ira Mehlman. The consequences of illegal immigration affect legal residents in the USA who struggle the most. Our federal government wastes hundreds of billions of dollars to create few jobs, when we have over six million illegal immigrants in the USA in non-agricultural jobs.

  14. avatar

    Everyone who makes these comments probably don’t live in the community where the illegals are housed. I live in a community where the majority of my neighbors cannot speak English. The act like they are entitled and they are rude. they don’t follow the rules and They want compassion and consideration but they don’t give any. Myself ( An American) if I break the law I would be in jail in a moment. Being here without papers is breaking the law, And on top of all that they use social security numbers that don’t belong to them, another broken law. How tolerant are we supposed to be?

    • avatar
      Tired of Illegal Aliens on

      Elizabeth: These crimes you speak of are felonies and should be treated as such! Further, you should call Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at (866)347-2423 if you know of someone that is in the country illegally; you would report other felonies, wouldn’t you???

  15. avatar
    JoblessInJersey on

    Carlos Slim, Mexico’s richest man, now has a house in New York.

    Why isn’t it surrounded 24/7 by protesters?

    • avatar
      Marvin McConoughey on

      Why should Mr. Slim’s house, or any other foreign-owned property be surrounded by protesters? it is entirely legal for one to own property in other nations than where citizenship is held. Many Americans own stock in overseas countries, many own houses overseas. It has little to do with illegal immigration.

      • avatar

        Not in Mexico if the home is near the beach, and with some other laws that stop foreigners from land purchase’s you are living under the impression that every country is the same as the USA when it comes to residential laws.

      • avatar

        Marvin, you don’t know Jack. Just for one, in Thailand the ownership of real property is only for Thai citizens and I’m sure that is true for many more, the USA is the only one I know forsure where foreign nationals can own real property.