Immigration Control: A Catholic Dilemma?

26 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2015

Date Written: January 12, 2007


Last year's proposed immigration law reforms inflamed American society and fueled considerable debate regarding our nation's domestic and social obligations. One particularly controversial bill proposed in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4437, would have criminalized undocumented aliens as felons. Although the resolution did not pass, its advocates continue to seek similar controls and enjoy much support.

The American public has been sharply divided over immigration, and disparate views on immigration control have been expressed even within the often-unified Catholic community. Indeed, Catholic voices have been some of the loudest in advocating and opposing H.R. 4437: Catholic bishops have called for amnesty; Catholic lawmakers have defended strict penalties as critical to domestic welfare.

This Article studies whether Catholic teaching, with its foundation in natural law, condones differing views on immigration control. This analysis reveals that divergent responses to immigration are indeed permissible and natural among faithful Catholic believers. I would therefore urge Catholic lawmakers to recognize the permissible variation among believers and to dialogue more openly with religious and secular lawmakers.

Keywords: immigration, reform, criminalization, social obligations, Catholic teaching

JEL Classification: K14, J61

Suggested Citation

McLeod, Marah, Immigration Control: A Catholic Dilemma? (January 12, 2007). University of Detroit Mercy Law Review, Vol. 84, No. 73, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Marah McLeod (Contact Author)

Notre Dame Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
3127713448 (Phone)
3127713448 (Fax)

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