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They Need Us, And We Need Them!

Numerous studies confirm that immigrants are less likely to commit violent crimes than U.S.-born citizens. The truth is that immigrants greatly contribute to the economy especially in the agricultural sector.

They are deadbeats who want free benefits from our country. They are dangerous criminals who are hurting our people and our country. “They” are the 11 million undocumented migrants living in the U.S. And “they” are overwhelmingly not any of the above. Quite the contrary!

 According to “The Hill”, certain segments of the U.S. economy like agriculture, are dependent upon undocumented immigrants. The Department of Labor reports that of the 2.5 million farmworkers in the U.S., over half (53 percent) are illegal immigrants. 

Forty years ago, when Annunciation House – a sanctuary and home of hospitality for refugees, homeless poor, and undocumented workers – was started in El Paso, Texas, founding director Ruben Garcia and a few friends wanted to place themselves among the poor to see where the poor would lead them. He said, “They took us to the undocumented – the most vulnerable.” 

Garcia explained that since the undocumented have no legal status in the United States, they are forced to take undesirable and poorly paid jobs. 

So why do they come? The most often reason is that they are extremely poor, and they cannot find jobs in their native countries. Another reason is that the U.S. has more low-skilled jobs than there are Americans who are willing to take them. And many others come to escape death threats from drug gangs and other violent conflicts.

But why don’t they enter legally? Because there are too few low-skilled visas available.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, there are more than 25 million refugees and over 4 million asylum seekers throughout the world. Only a very small percentage of them are allowed to build new lives in host countries. Last year, the U.S. allowed only approximately 11,800 refugees to enter legally.

The Catholic Church teaches that needy people have a right to migrate to other countries. Saint Pope John XXIII, in his encyclical Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”), wrote: “Every human being has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the confines of his own country; and, when there are just reasons for it, the right to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there.”

Garcia asked that I raise the following questions: “Should undocumented immigrants have to live in an underground world? Is it right to use closed borders to exploit cheap labor? Why is it so acceptable to have undocumented workers perform the jobs few Americans are willing to do?”

Lord Jesus, heal the indifference of most wealthy nations toward vulnerable and poor refugees who are only asking what all of us desire: a decent, safe place to live and work. 

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