Pope Francis Likely to Make Immigration Centerpiece of Upcoming U.S. Visit

Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped)Pope Francis is scheduled to make his first visit to the U.S., as head of the Roman Catholic Church, in September. The papal visit will include a meeting with President Obama and an address to a joint session of Congress.

Immigration will likely be high on the pope’s agenda in his meetings with American leaders. That agenda is pretty clear: The pontiff believes that Western nations have a virtually limitless obligation to admit virtually limitless numbers of Third World migrants. That was pretty much his message when he addressed the European Parliament last November, where he chastised leaders for pursuing “policies of self-interest” on immigration.

No ethical nation (or individual) can act purely out of self-interest in all circumstances. But no sane nation (or individual) can entirely eschew self-interest in all circumstances and hope to survive. Perhaps more importantly, there is nothing ethical about immigration policies that require American workers, taxpayers, and schoolkids to sacrifice their most basic interests to accommodate an endless flow of migrants, even when those views are espoused by well-intentioned religious leaders.

Moreover, the United States has nothing to apologize for when it comes to admitting immigrants. We have an exceedingly generous immigration policy (too generous in the opinion of many) that admits more than a million people annually. We are also exceedingly generous once immigrants (even illegal aliens) settle in this country, providing all sorts of direct and indirect taxpayer assistance to them and their children.

No one can doubt Francis’s commitment to the poor. Chastising Western nations for asserting self-interest in their immigration policies, however, will have little long-term benefit for the billions of people around the world who are afflicted by poverty, ignorance and repression. What would have a much greater impact would be fundamental political, economic and social reform in the countries that produce large numbers of migrants.

Pope Francis is uniquely qualified to be that catalyst for positive change. Much like John Paul II, the Polish pope, who used his and the Church’s moral authority to support those in his homeland and across Eastern Europe to throw off the oppression of Soviet-imposed communism, the Argentinian pope can play a critical role in facilitating change in his region. He is not just the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, but he is the de facto leader of millions of Latin American Catholics whose interests and aspirations have been trampled by governments in that region for generations.

John Paul did not encourage millions of Pole to flee Poland, or demand that other countries open their doors to however many showed up. Instead, he encouraged people seeking freedom and opportunity to stand up to those who were denying them their God-given rights. It is successful model that should be emulated by the Church’s first Latin American pope.

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

    The overwhelming bulk of illegals are from former Spanish Colony countries, Central and South America, the Phillipines, etc. They are primarily Catholic in religions and heritage who speak spanish as a primary language. They do not mix with American Protestant values. The claim religious leaders support amnesty is a lie as it is only Catholics for self-serving purposes. The Pope needs to stay home and clean up his own mess and is not wanted here.

  2. avatar

    Just what this country doesn’t need, another outsider attempting to dictate OUR immigration policies! We get enough demented input and ignorance from those within this asinine government already.

  3. avatar

    So the head of a church that is nothing more than a giant pyramid scheme thinks that western countries, AKA the US should allow as many illegals to flood into the country as wish to come and take jobs away from the legal citizens just because he thinks we should feel guilty because we are a majority white country? How about the Catholics give back some the money they have taken from all the poor countries over the centuries and actually help them for a change rather than impose crap rules that kill them with aids and tell them to pray when they are starving????

  4. avatar

    Charity starts at home. Millions of American citizens including children are in poverty in our country that need help. We cannot absorb millions of more poor people from all over the world, especially since our country is going broke and we have to borrow trillions in order to pay our bills. Bringing millions more poor people into our country will only bankrupt our country sooner, and as a result impoverish millions more Americans!

  5. avatar

    I suggest that all oppressed immigrants emigrate to Vatican City. With all the gold stolen by “the Church” over the past six centuries this should be no problem for the Vatican. The pope is sitting on a mountain of gold and he wants the rest of the world to pay for his foolish utopian policies. The church would do mankind a great benefit by supporting and funding birth control. With smaller populations there would be opportunities in the immigrants homelands with less competition for the number of jobs and food resources that their country produces.

    • avatar

      Case in point, the Catholic country of the Philippines. A hundred years ago, their population was around 10 million. Now it’s over 100 million. Considering that a large part of the population farms or fishes, their resources are stretched beyond the point that they can provide a decent living for themselves. And yet the Catholic church fights every attempt to introduce birth control while lecturing us that we have to pay the price for their policies.

  6. avatar

    He’s just another press creation, image over substance. I can’t tell you the number of people I have heard say that this guy is different. No, he’s not. He may drive some small car but on the important things like birth control he’s supporting the same policies.

    He talks about other’s “policies of self interest”? It’s the Catholic Church’s policies that are destructive, out of date, and deserving of rebuke. He would rather have children of a large family go hungry because their parents are told they will go to hell if they use birth control. The church is a primary cause of the conditions that they tell us it is our duty to correct. Their hypocrisy is beyond contempt.