The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
“…Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that he said to them,
“Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
“Sanctuary” is a name given to a city, county, or state that shelters illegal immigrants in violation and defiance of federal immigration laws.
While there is no universal legal definition of a sanctuary jurisdiction, those that describe themselves as sanctuary have some public policies of leniency regarding enforcement of federal immigration laws. Typically, a sanctuary city/county/state forbids its police or other government employees (such as schools and community health care centers) to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.
On January 25, 2017, five days after his inauguration, President Trump signed an executive order vowing to strip some federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions that “willfully violate federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” because sanctuary cities “have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our republic.” (Source: whitehouse.gov)
The Trump administration and opponents of illegal immigration say that sanctuary cities make it easy for violent individuals and gang members, who are not supposed to be in the country to begin with, to evade detection by federal immigration authorities. The critics point to several highly publicized incidents where illegal aliens have committed horrific crimes of murder, rape, shootings, armed robberies and assaults, including the murder of Kate Steinle by illegal alien Jose Zarate in San Francisco, a sanctuary city since 2008.
President Trump followed his executive order with a Feb. 16 news conference in which he:
- Vowed to launch a “crackdown on sanctuary cities,” announcing that a “nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens” had begun.
- Ordered an end to the “catch-and-release policy” that allows apprehended illegal aliens to go free while awaiting a court hearing;
- Announced the creation of “a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, of which there are many.”
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are 4 sanctuary states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Mexico) and 165 sanctuary cities and counties across America, mainly clustered in the Northeast, the Midwest and the West Coast.
A considerable part of the sanctuary movement is occurring in California, which became a sanctuary state on October 5, 2017, despite being warned by the Trump Department of Justice that it could lose more than $18 million in federal funding. A snapshot of the scope of the California situation was provided in a brief released in late April by the Education Trust-West advocacy group:
- 1 in 13 California residents is an illegal alien, comprising 20% of all undocumented persons in the U.S.
- About 12% (or 750,000 students) of all students in California’s K-12 schools have an undocumented parent.
Brian Faga reports for National Catholic Register, May 11, 2017, that U.S. bishops have spoken out against President Trump’s plan to reduce sanctuary cities/states’ federal funding.
Even before President Trump’s executive order, the Catholic Church in the United States, as represented by the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), already had made clear their refusal to support the federal government’s enforcement of immigration laws. As an August 2013 document posted on the USCCB’s website puts it, “The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) opposes ‘enforcement only’ immigration policies and supports comprehensive immigration reform.”
President Trump’s executive order drew sharp rebukes from Church leaders, including:
- Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Texas, the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, released a Jan. 26 statement where he said the President’s executive order risked injuring local relationships between migrant communities and law enforcement and would force local jurisdictions to accept a “one-size-fits-all” approach to immigration policy. “I have enormous respect for and value our federal law enforcement agents who risk their lives every day to enforce our immigration laws. I also recognize that there may well be situations where local governments feel they need to foster a relationship with their communities by working with the victims of or witnesses to crime without instilling a fear that, by coming forward, they or their family members will be handed over to immigration authorities.”
- Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson, Mississippi, issued a statement on Feb. 15 opposing a bill that would prohibit cities and universities from declaring themselves as sanctuaries for immigrants without legal documents. Kopacz calls the bill “flawed and not needed.”
- The Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned a new Texas law passed in late April that punishes local police officers if they do not cooperate with detainer requests issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as enables local police to inquire into the legal status of anyone arrested or detained.
- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is also President of the USCCB, called the Texas law inhumane: “Immigration law should be enforced in a way that is targeted, proportional and humane. This bill does not meet the standard.”
- Ned Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference, said California bishops support S.B. 54, a state bill that would prohibit local and state law enforcement agencies from using their resources to help federal immigration enforcement. Dolejsi said, “From the Catholic Conference’s standpoint, we want the undocumented people [i.e, criminals] protected. We don’t want mass deportations to occur here. We’re trying to accompany people and provide legal services, support and encouragement to folks. At the same time, we recognize that it’s important to remove serious violent felons and the need for some type of relationship between local law enforcement and ICE. How we get there is going to be an interesting struggle.”
- Lorena Melgarejo, an immigration advocate for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said that “undocumented immigrants” are feeling more anxious than ever that they or their loved ones will soon be rounded up and deported, although she admitted to not having seen any actual signs of stepped-up immigration enforcement by the federal government. “The only thing we can do from a pastoral standpoint is to walk with people in this moment, provide information, connect them to resources and take that as an opportunity to engage and encounter people in dialogue, not just with immigrants, but also with other Catholics who are asking themselves: What is their role in a moment when our communities feel targeted?”
- Christy Williams, an advocacy attorney with Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., said, “If [illegal] immigrants know there is a standing policy that local leaders have taken time to implement, a policy to respect their civil rights, to promote practices that treat them in a humane manner and with dignity, I think they tend to feel welcome, and I think that’s the most important thing.”
Marguerite Telford, a Catholic and a spokeswoman for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that supports a stricter national immigration policy, told the National Catholic Register she does not agree with the approach of bishops and other Church officials who emphasize assisting illegals over border security, national sovereignty and public-safety concerns. She said:
“I care about the victims [of illegal alien criminals], and I’ve met a lot of the victims of these crimes, and I almost never hear my church talk about the victims of criminal aliens — almost never. I don’t understand why the bishops don’t have a heart for those impacted by the United States having open borders, with no vetting, and allowing people to be in this country whom we know nothing about.”
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar: those who willingly use the coin that is Caesar’s should repay him in kind.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church considered by the Catholic Church to be the greatest theologian and philosopher, respected a country’s laws governing immigration and would gravely disapprove of illegal “immigrants”, much less their brazen demands for special treatment in the U.S. today. So prudent and concerned was he for the well being of the host country that St. Thomas recommended that even legal immigrants be granted citizenship only after 2 or 3 generations. (See “St. Thomas Aquinas disapproved of illegal immigration and expected all immigrants to assimilate“)
In their opposition to the U.S. government’s enforcement of immigration laws approved by Congress, U.S. bishops precisely go against not only what St. Thomas had recommended, but also what Jesus Himself had instructed — that we who “willingly use the coin” that is the federal government’s should “repay in kind” by observing the government’s laws.
And since the bishops are picking and choosing which federal government law to oppose and ignore, does that mean we get to pick and choose which of God’s commandments or church law/doctrine to ignore as well?
- U.S. bishops oppose President Trump on border wall and illegal immigrants
- Churches Vow to Offer Sanctuary to Illegal Aliens
- Collusion of Church & State in Invasion of Illegals: $182M to house “unaccompanied children” for just 4 months
- NY cardinal who lives tax-free in $30M mansion scolds Americans for being against illegal immigration
- Pope Francis says refugees’ wellbeing trumps national security