The Border Wall is Illegal

Walk the Border

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.

Mexico City occupation by US

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.

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11 thoughts on “The Border Wall is Illegal

  1. Couldn’t disagree more. Let’s turn it over to the Bishops I’m sure they’ll do a bang up job with it. Remember the Alamo. If everything you say is true, then who will conduct the negotiations to return all of the so called stolen land to the Native Americans?

    Joe Kernan

  2. Thank you father mark…. this whole border wall thing makes me sick… I’m glad to know it’s my moral compass trying to scream out…. god bless you….

  3. So many comments and thoughts. Here are a few of mine. Just food for thought.
    Who played the race card? Everyday by the democrats.
    Rules and regulations for all in a fair society.
    Social justice, of course. Some immigrants have families here and would be good citizens. Some are not for a variety of reasons – therefore rules and regulations must abide.
    And a subject nobody in the media or anybody in the religious community likes to address. Coming here for our generous welfare system. 63% of immigrants end up on welfare. This system has been a disaster as the original welfare system was not meant to be a permanent lifestyle. Not enough space here to describe most permanent welfare recipients and how it has destroyed their lives and a fruitful society. Temporary assistance should always be available in our generous society.
    Freedom does not mean a free ride for life.
    It’s OK to bring up the past but we should stop making excuses and compare it to today. It’s a different world today — Jesus tells us that we should not live in the past.
    We all know that you have to jump through hoops in order to attain our goals and sometimes you have a wall in your way that you cannot get over especially if you do not abide by the rules.
    Do we want good people to enter our society? Absolutely. Do we want them healthy as they enter our school system and ready to assimilate? Do we want more gang members and drug dealers? If thousands bombard our borders and some violently – what’s the solution? We already have immigration laws that are not followed.
    Everyone in this day and age is willing to criticize but not work on solutions.
    Suggestion – stop thinking about your political party and think common sense – not untruthsnand propaganda.

  4. Before the European onslaught, the Natives in the Americas had conquest figured out for themselves. Recall, the Sioux were not native to the Dakotas for example. Greed Corrupts us all! Even the Natives carved out territory and made their ‘property lines’ known. When you find in Numbers (?) You shall not move corner monuments … Greeeeed for land has been an ongoing issue by any devious means at hand. Common to any society of people is a ‘WE’ and ‘this is Ours’. Well said Joe and Nancy.

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