Gospel of Fear: Bishops Blur the Line on Immigrants

The Catholic Bishops of Texas don’t do their parishioners — or anyone else — any favors when they conflate illegal and legal immigrants.

Waging a political campaign against Senate Bill 4, the state’s new anti-sanctuary law, the bishops fan the flames of fear with overheated rhetoric in heavily Hispanic communities.

San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores dealt the victim card from the bottom of the deck by declaring that the SB 4 debate “sound[ed]as if all immigrants are criminals.”

Unlike the bishops, state lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed the legislation into law, were punctilious in distinguishing between legal and illegal immigrants.

A practicing Catholic married to a Catholic Mexican-American, the governor, a former attorney general, stressed that SB 4 strictly prohibits discrimination and profiling. Law-enforcement officers cannot ask questions about citizenship in the absence of a criminal investigation.

The bishops bowed briefly to that reality, and then set up more straw men.

Without evidence or specifics, Garcia-Siller and Flores announced, “People are now afraid that pretexts will be invented so they can be stopped and asked about their immigration status.”

The bishops agreed with Abbott that “we are a nation of laws.” Yet that, too, was subject to extra-legal revision. “Not all laws are good laws,” they opined.

Such thinking is wrong on two counts:

First, if everyone is free to decide which laws are good and bad, and which ones they are going to obey, chaos ensues.

Second, immigration laws, however imperfect, protect important economic and social interests of Americans – many of whom might actually be filling church pews.

While vowing to “step up efforts to inform persons of their rights” the bishops stopped short of declaring their churches sanctuaries. As of now, the only self-proclaimed “sanctuary congregation” in San Antonio is the First Unitarian Universalist Church.

Nothing in SB 4 prevents more churches from going the sanctuary route. The state law only targets government authorities and public agencies that fail to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

U.S. law is another matter, however. Federal statutes prohibit “concealing, harboring or shielding” illegal aliens.

It’s a distinction worth noting. Like the difference between legal and illegal immigrants.

About Author


Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


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  2. avatar

    The Problem With Downplaying Immigrant Crime

    Information on Incarcerations, Arrests, and Costs

    Criminal immigrants reoffend at higher rates than ICE has suggested

  3. avatar

    Sanctuary Cities are nothing more than holding pens for prey for Illegal Alien Criminals. Never mentioned is the existence of the U Visa which protects Illegal Aliens who report or are a victim of crime. I wonder why?

    U.S.Sanctuary Bills in Maryland Faced a Surprise Foe: Legal Immigrants

    “The failure of the sanctuary bills in Maryland reveals a potentially troublesome fissure for Democrats as they rush to defy Mr. Trump. Their party has staked out an activist position built around protecting undocumented immigrants. But it is one that has alienated many who might have been expected to support it.”

    Obama administration has admitted that Sanctuary Cities are a problem:

    But, within the above letter, doesn’t really address what the Obama administration will actually do about it to protect US Citizens:




    IGS poll: Californians oppose sanctuary city policies

    “Californians strongly oppose “sanctuary city” policies under which local authorities ignore federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested but are about to be released, according to a new poll released today by the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at UC Berkeley.”

  4. avatar
    Maria Antonia on

    The Catholic Church has laws that have to be observed by the parishioners. If those laws are broken, these people can and will be admonished. Well. our country has laws that have to be observed, if not, caos will occur. We are a country of laws. People that are not willing to obey them, should not be allowed to come in. People that wish to come into our country shall be willing to assimilate, learn English,
    work and learn to love our country.

    • avatar

      Could you explain the importance if the meaning of “The People” the Constitution and this land Maria? within the accountability and the correlation that nobody ever cared about these people,”the good ones” and what is your solution?