A Numbers Game?

President and CardinalThe Economist takes a look at what America’s Roman Catholic church has been saying about immigration:

In America Roman Catholic ears are ringing from sermons supporting immigration reform. On September 8th, just before politicians returned to Congress after their summer break, several Catholic bishops spoke in favour of a bill passed by the Senate in June. The legislation would provide a bridge to citizenship for the 11m people currently residing in America without legal authorisation to do so (and also proposes $46 billion for border security measures). It followed on from vigils in August in support of reform of immigration policies (pictured). Prospects for the passage of any sort of immigration reform in the current legislative session are fading quickly, while the chances of the Senate bill passing the House of Representatives are currently low. But the Roman Catholic church is increasing pressure from the pulpit. Why is the church interested in changing immigration policies?

Well, some of it is ideological, of course, a religio-philosophical stance not too dissimilar from that which we heard the other day from the Pope in Lampedusa, and which was so rightly criticized by Theodore Dalrymple for its intellectually lazy “moral exhibitionism”.

But is there, wonders The Economist, something else:

Currently only 22% of Americans are Catholic (although almost a third of those in Congress are Catholic, making up the largest religious group). One possible reason why the Catholic church is keen to cultivate Hispanic migrants could be that, if some of the immigrants are more socially conservative, their voices could become louder on topics such as contraception and abortion, over which the church has clashed with the Obama administration. Welcoming more Hispanics into the country would also swell congregations, extending the church’s influence from pulpits to polling stations.

That could indeed be part of it, but I suspect that The Economist is defining the issue too narrowly (when it comes to social conservatism, the opinions of Latino immigrants may be less straightforward than the magazine imagines). Better, perhaps, to see this simply as a reflection of an old truth.

Numbers mean clout.

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7 Responses to A Numbers Game?

  1. cynthia curran says:

    I usually think conservatives have the wrong approach on opposing immigration. Many right wing blogs show that immigrants illegal and legal gain on jobs while the native born lost jobs. In fact there is some truth but its more complex. For example, Santa Ana in the Orange County area has the largest unemployment rate, Santa Ana’s population is about 30 percent in the country illegal and it has an unemployment rate currently about 9. 4 percent and its over 50 percent foreign born. On the other hand, in Mission Viejo if you managed to not be laid off the unemployment rate is currently 4.5 percent, less than 10 percent of Mission Viejo is in the US here illegality and its only about 17 percent foreign born. Now, big business will use that we need these people because were are hiring a lot of low skilled folks in the service industry but the growth is not as great as we have been told since as mention Santa Ana a city where folks are more likley to be employed in lower skilled service jobs has a higher unemployment than Mission Viejo where the folks work in the professional sector.

  2. cynthia curran says:

    I think a lot of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Houston, Dallas, New York City, Miami, Chicago and so forth are living off of relatives that are still employed. The way to get rid of them is to get rid of the jobs of the relatives by improving the e-verify and penalties against companies that hire them even agricultural can be made to comply if you changed the guest worker program for agricultural slightly.

  3. cynthia curran says:

    Milton Friedman unlike the Cato Inst opposed guest worker programs since it was business interest using the government to subsidized cheaper labor for them.

  4. cynthia curran says:

    Actually, Latins are becoming less socially conservative. In fact Brazil is more liberal on the social issues than many whites are in the US south with an evangelical background. Mexico city has same sex marriage and allows abortion. Older Hispanics like older whites are more conservative on the social issues while younger Hispanics-Mexicans are Central Americans are more liberal. The Catholic Church just wants a bigger Catholic presents in the US but many Mexicans in the US are going either secular or protestant. Brazil has a birth rate below replacement and Mexico will follow it as well.

  5. cynthia curran says:

    Pew Hispanic reports Hispanics to the left of whites on many issues, economics being the main one, foreign policy, gun control, even Hispanics are more to the left of whites in southern states like South Carolina on abortion, and on same sex marriage.

  6. cynthia curran says:

    The church is dated and the reality is in the US Whites are the most socially conservative while blacks and Hispanics sometimes claim they are but usually don’t support it by voting Democrat. Whites also are the most liberal but still they have a lot of Pat Buchanans and Focus on the Family types.

  7. Richard says:

    The problem with the “numbers mean clout” explanation for the bishops’ position is that the numbers also mean problems–all those Catholic immigrants (if they all are practicing Catholics) will need parishes, which need to be built, heated and cooled, maintained, and staffed off the couple of dollars per week that the average unskilled immigrant would put into the collection plate. Add to that the dwindling number for priests to serve these congregants (especially ones that speak Spanish), and the idea that the bishops have an ulterior motive doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sometimes, peoples’ motivations are what they say they are–in this case, the bishops’ position on immigration is simply their interpretation of Matt 25: 31-40.

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