Baltimore and the Catholic Church: “Documenting” Illegals

The Baltimore Police Department recently announced it will recognize issued to “undocumented immigrants” by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore. According to the Archdiocese, and a local church coalition Baltimore United for Leadership Development (BUILD), illegal aliens are “reluctant to come forward as victims or witnesses of crime” and “helping immigrants get an identity card from a trusted institution — the Catholic Church — will make people more comfortable talking to officers.”

Advocates for illegal aliens have, for decades, falsely asserted that those unlawfully present in the United States are hesitant to report crime due to a fear of being deported. However, one need only observe the number of people who show up at “Undocumented and Unafraid” protests, and publicly declare their illegal status, to know those claims are absurd.

And neither the Roman Catholic Church, nor the BUILD coalition, have explained how an ID card issued by a non-governmental entity will make people who fear deportation more comfortable dealing with law enforcement. A Catholic parish identity card confers no rights or privileges. And illegal aliens in Maryland can already obtain drivers licenses and state ID cards.

Nevertheless, this program shouldn’t be dismissed as an anti-Trump/pro-illegal-alien publicity stunt by the Catholic Church. As FAIR has repeatedly noted, the use of the term “undocumented immigrant” is deliberately employed to convey the impression that illegal aliens have committed a minor infraction that can be corrected by simple, ministerial action. The recognition of the church-issued ID program is nothing other than a deliberate attempt to create the impression that individual communities, like Baltimore, can bypass federal immigration law and “regularize the status” of illegal aliens by providing them with “documents.”

That interference has dire implications for constitutional federalism. Like defense, the minting of currency, and the conduct of diplomacy, immigration is an exclusively federal function. This is because, as the Supreme Court noted in Harisiades v. Shaughnessy, “[A]ny policy toward aliens is vitally and intricately interwoven with contemporaneous policies in regard to the conduct of foreign relations, the war power, and the maintenance of a republican form of government.”

When Baltimore attempts to usurp the federal power over immigration it upsets the constitutional system of checks and balances that makes our government run. Simply put, the City of Baltimore (much less the local archdiocese) doesn’t have access to the type intelligence, defense, and diplomatic information necessary to determine if the admission of a particular immigrant is in the national interest. Sanctuary city policies, alternative ID programs, and states’ refusal to cooperate with immigration enforcement only make the U.S. vulnerable to infiltration by terrorists and criminals.

Furthermore, in a Republic whose founding was largely prompted by a desire to separate church and state, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has no business attempting to perform a governmental function. Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle has asserted that the Catholic Church is an effective “validator” for the police. But Churches are not set up to confirm personal identities. And Catholic officials in Baltimore have publicly stated that, “there will not be a specific database of cardholders.” One wonders how those processing ID applications plan to guard against fraud if they can’t refer to a dedicated records system to determine when and to whom they have issued ID cards.

In the end, documents issued by the Catholic Church don’t change the status of illegal aliens. But programs like Baltimore’s do create a false impression that illegal migration isn’t a crime and that immigration enforcement is somehow immoral or unjust.

About Author


Matthew J. O’Brien joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.


  1. avatar

    If we had mandatory E-Verify, with strict penalties for hiring illegals, illegal immigration would slow dramatically, and those already here would have to go back. Take away the JOBS, and there is no reason for them to stay. We don’t need a wall. We need E-Verify!

  2. avatar

    Why Spend So Much Money and Time Worrying About Foreign Invaders?

    Don’t we much better things to do like N. Korea, the job shortages, OVERPOPULATION, water shortages, etc, etc…

  3. avatar

    I would also add that we need better border security along our southern border to help block the importation of illicit fentanyl into the US that is fueling the opioid epidemic in the US. Since 2011, fatal overdoses in the US from drugstore opioids alone have remained relatively stable, but those involving illicit fentanyl have skyrocketed. This much more lethal drug played a part in 60 percent of US opioid deaths in 2017.

    The original source of almost all illicit fentanyl are poorly monitored and regulated drug labs in China. It is mailed to the US or Mexico to American users and dealers or shipped to the Mexican drug cartels who smuggle it into the US. Better efforts need to be made both at the US border with Mexico and with screening mail arriving from China into the US.

    The number of Americans dying each year is roughly equivalent to the total numbers deaths resulting from the Vietnam War. If anyone thinks China’s government is either not behind or does not tacitly approve of the increase in the illegal supply of fentanyl into the US from China I have a bridge to sell you.

    China’s goal is to overtake the US as the most powerful country in the world and to kick the US military out of the Western Pacific. China cannot defeat the US military at this point, but they can undermine our economy through trade, stealing technology, etc. as well as undermine and weaken our society through fueling the opioid epidemic by supplying illicit fentanyl to the US either directly or through Mexico.

    A strong and healthy society is the foundation of both our economic and military power and China’s fueling of our opioid epidemic through dramatically increasing the supply of fentanyl into the US weakens the US internally because human nature being what it is as the supply of drugs goes up the number of people choosing to use the drugs and eventually becoming addicted increases.

    China is very aware of how an increase in the availability of illicit opioids/opium weakens a country internally given what a big part of China’s history over the past two centuries the 19th century First and Second Opium wars with Britain were.

    Here is a little about the Opium Wars. I would encourage anyone to read more about them because the lessons China learned are a big part of what is happening with China in the world today.

    —-“The Opium Wars arose from China’s attempts to suppress the opium trade. Foreign traders (primarily British) had been illegally exporting opium mainly from India to China since the 18th century, but that trade grew dramatically from about 1820. The resulting widespread addiction in China was causing serious social and economic disruption there. In spring 1839 the Chinese government confiscated and destroyed more than 20,000 chests of opium—some 1,400 tons of the drug—that were warehoused at Canton (Guangzhou) by British merchants.”

    —-” Hostilities broke out later that year when British warships destroyed a Chinese blockade of the Pearl River (Zhu Jiang) estuary at Hong Kong. The British government decided in early 1840 to send an expeditionary force to China, which arrived at Hong Kong in June.”

    —-” Peace negotiations proceeded quickly, resulting in the Treaty of Nanjing, signed on August 29. By its provisions, China was required to pay Britain a large indemnity, cede Hong Kong Island to the British, and increase the number of treaty ports where the British could trade and reside from one (Canton) to five.”

  4. avatar

    You can’t make this crap up, unless you’re a Libtard! Just one Q: What ever happened to Separation of Church and State? Libtards keep telling us that’s an inviolate principle… except when it isn’t!

  5. avatar

    It is rather bizarre that anyone would think this ID actually means anything. But then again, it’s the Catholic church trying to pander to illegals so they can keep their empty pews filled. The Pope is always saying western countries have to take care of their poor brethren from other countries, but the reason so many of those people are so poor is the number of children they keep having because the church tells them not to use birth control. The Catholic country of the Philippines has increased it’s population ten fold over the last hundred years. There is no way that is sustainable, but it’s the church who has encouraged this debacle. They’re like Angela Merkel telling every one they are welcome in Germany and then insists that other countries need to take their share when they came by the hundreds of thousands.

    Some are saying that the hurricane is due to global warming. Hard to pin any individual event on it, but the fact is that of the all time highest temperatures recorded in each of the 50 states, the largest percentage by far, close to half, came in the 1930s. In fact only two states have recorded their highs this century. The lowest pressure reading and highest winds ever recorded by a US landfall hurricane was 1935 in the Florida Keys. The only year in which a category 5 hurricane was recorded in November was 1932. History did not begin last week.