No one asked me who TIME Magazine’s Man/Person/People of the Year should be. But if they had, I would have said: Isn’t it obvious? Tenny Ostrem and Claire Wernstedt-Lynch.
They started walking a year ago at Friendship Park in San Diego, California. They walked the entire US-Mexico border. They reached the Gulf of Mexico in August.
Two thousand miles, the same length as the Appalachian Trail. (That’s where they met, the two brave young ladies–hiking the Appalachian Trail a few years ago.)
…Some American Catholics cling to an “it’s all about respect for the law” position, when it comes to US-Mexico immigration.
This school of thought, as I understand it, runs like this:
“I am no racist. But I believe in respect for the rule of law. Would-be immigrants to the US must abide by our laws. If they enter the country ‘illegally,’ we have the right to deprive them of their liberty and deport them.”
Similar line of thought, when it comes to the military action ordered by the late, lamented George H.W. Bush in 1991:
“We Americans believe in the territorial integrity of sovereign states. Saddam Hussein violated international law by attempting to annex by force the neighboring sovereign nation of Kuwait. Therefore, the USA legally and rightly made war against Iraq, to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait.”
Makes sense because: The territorial integrity of sovereign states is one of the fundamental principles of international law. Our own assertion of the right to deport “illegal aliens” is based on that very principle.
Problem is: The current US-Mexico border is the legacy of a gross violation of that legal principle.
This has everything to do with Our Lady of Guadalupe, because the treaty establishing the current border was signed, under duress, in the shadow of the basilica housing St. Juan Diego’s tilma.
And it has everything to do with human rights and morality since we, the United States of America, re-imposed slavery in Texas by annexing it and taking it away from Mexico. We took Texas away from the country that had abolished slavery there in 1829–nearly four decades before we abolished it.
Yes, this is what I am saying: The USA does not have a legitimate claim to the current US-Mexico border. The current border is not legal, according the principles of morality and international law. It is simply the result of the disproportion of military strength between the USA and Mexico 170 years ago.
Christians believe in the rule of law. We do not believe that might makes right. Therefore, we have to recognize that the USA does not have the right to build walls or use military or paramilitary force along the Rio Grande/Sonora Desert/San Diego border.
If we want the rule of law to prevail, we should insist that the US-Mexico border be the subject of bi-lateral negotiations, facilitated by a disinterested mediator. Such negotiations could result in a confrontation with the wrongs of the past, and could lead ultimately to reconciliation and peace.
On the other hand, the position of the current presidential administration with respect to that border does not have a genuine legal or moral basis. We Catholics cannot legitimately appeal to a “rule of law” justification for supporting the border policies of the Trump administration.