Insights: An Overhaul of Legal Immigration; AMA Retains Opposition to Assisted Suicide

An Overhaul of Legal Immigration, Through the Back-Door

Last month, the Trump Administration announced a dramatic change to long-standing definitions of what constitutes a “public charge” for legal immigration purposes.  Bishop Vasquez, Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee said that the changes, if enacted, would “undercut decades of administrative policies and guidelines on how immigrants are treated…it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare.”

Dr. Gráinne McEvoy, a regular contributor on the history of immigration, continues to examine the ongoing situation in the U.S.

In late September, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed change in how it will evaluate the admissibility of immigrants based on their likelihood of becoming dependent upon the state. Although the “likely to be a public charge” provision has been part of federal immigration law since the 19th century, the new regulations would constitute a dramatic departure from existing practice. If implemented, this proposal could undermine the well-being of hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their families already in the country, and dramatically alter the nature of future legal immigration to the United States.

Under the new regulations, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) would

use a complex set of rules for assessing all applicants for visas or legal permanent residency (green cards), whether new applicants from outside the country or those already living in the U.S. who are legally applying to adjust their status. Immigration inspectors would have significant leeway, including the ability to deny admission or legal residency if an individual has utilized certain taxpayer-funded programs that support access to food aid, public housing, and Medicaid.

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Countdown to Midterm Election Day

With Election Day now less than two weeks away, the countdown has begun to get ballots filled out and delivered to voting locations in California. Political advertisements and mailers have descended as they try to persuade for or against the 11 propositions on the ballot, and the conflicting information can prove confusing and overwhelming as you try to discern your voting conscience.

The California Catholic Conference has published propositional analyses for each of the measures on the ballot, giving a background as well as applicable Catholic social teaching.

If you did not register to vote by the 15-day voter registration deadline, you may conditionally register to vote and cast a provisional ballot by visiting your county elections office, a vote center, or a designated satellite location during the period of 14 days prior to, and including, Election Day. 

Once your county elections official processes your affidavit of registration, determines your eligibility to register, and validates your information, your registration becomes permanent and your provisional ballot will be counted.  For more information, please visit the Secretary of State’s website.  


Catholic Church Lauds Washington State Supreme Court Death Penalty Ruling

The Catholic Bishops of Washington State applauded today’s decision by the state Supreme Court to abolish the death penalty in Washington.  The Bishops have long been on record as opposing capital punishment.

“We applaud the unanimous state Supreme Court decision issued today finding the death penalty unconstitutional,” said Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle.  “The Catholic Church’s consistent belief is that every human life is sacred from conception until natural death – it is this principle that has energized our efforts for decades to abolish the death penalty.”

Earlier this year, Washington’s Catholic Bishops provided testimony in support of legislation to repeal the death penalty citing the country’s imperfect record in imposing the death penalty, the potential for racial biases and specific instances where innocent people have been executed for crimes they did not commit.  Since 1973, 161 people sentenced to death have been exonerated.  Today’s decision by the Supreme Court indicates a move towards greater justice and greater respect for life at all stages.

The Catholic Bishops of Washington State are Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishops Eusebio Elizondo and Daniel Mueggenborg of Seattle, Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, and Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima.


AMA Recommends Opposition to Assisted Suicide

There are pivotal updates on the front to fight physician-assisted suicide in the U.S.

The American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs continues to recommend that the AMA retain its position in opposition to assisted suicide. The report provides impetus for holding the line to oppose assisted suicide and sets up another battle at the June 2019 meeting.   

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), however, recently changed its position to “engaged neutrality,” which presents a significant challenge in retaining the opposition position next year by the AMA.

“It is quite startling that the AAFP would be so diametrically opposed to the medical community’s historical and long-standing opposition against physician-assisted suicide,” said Dr. Peter T. Morrow, president of the Catholic Medical Association, in a statement. “It is in direct violation of the ‘do no harm’ Hippocratic Oath.”

Fortunately, the World Medical Association remains in opposition to assisted suicide.   Our Embracing Our Dying page has details on the Church’s end-of-life teaching.  The End of Life: Legal and Policy Issues page lays out some of the public policy debate on the issue.


Spotlight on Immigration

The Bishops of the United States have been calling for meaningful immigration reform in the U.S. for decades.  Today, with spread of misinformation and the targeting of immigrants, both legal and undocumented, trying to learn the heart of the issue through the current rhetoric and emotions can be overwhelming.

The CCC has published several articles to assist in learning the crux of the immigration issue and Catholic social teaching regarding migration and neighborly compassion.

The articles were penned by Dr. Grainne McEvoy, an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, and is currently writing a book on American Catholic social thought and immigration policy in the 20th century.

Take a moment to review the articles to help clarify the need for compassion and concern for refugees around the world.


October 26, 2018
Vol. 11, No. 31

En Español


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