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Immigration and the Next America: Renewing…

Immigration and the Next America: Renewing the Soul of Our Nation

by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez

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Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles has written what he himself calls a personal reflection (©2013) on American national identity and its destiny. This is a short work (116 pp.) but very thought provoking. There are five chapters, each which has a different focus under the progress of the “American Dream.” Gomez writes as a pastor within the Roman Catholic tradition (i.e., not as a politician). Although he says that “immigration reform offers us a special moment as a nation,” (p. 108) he also says that, “there is no single authentic “Catholic position” on immigration.” (p. 92) What he sets out is his personal preference as an American citizen (naturalized) that rests on the vision of the Founding Fathers and the traditions of the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Gomez says that we ought to demand of ourselves that we live up to that founding vision now on the current immigration issue.
The book is interesting to me since it really is about starting a conversation about what is America now, what was it, and what will it be tomorrow. Gomez is right. Everything is tied to, at least partially answering the question, “What is an American?” (p. 58) People wanting to become Americans must engage that question themselves. Gomez says that we Americans should help them in that engagement. He argues that the most honorable way toward that end is “to restore the ideal of citizenship based on integration and Americanization.” (p. 111) Gomez also states that secularists, multiculturalists and relativists who form most of the public consensus have to be challenged more often (p. 110). More immediately he asks that deportations stop for illegal entry except where the offenders have broken some other law in addition; revision of the VISA process; encouragement of economic reforms in Latin America; and, a comprehensive policy that both secures the border and allows an earned permanent residency and eventual citizenship (p. 92).
Many people will not agree with all of Gomez’s points about American history but the book is meant to certify that all Catholics in Los Angeles must reflect on what being American is in a variety of ways. There is a smart bibliography for such a short work but even that is worth examining. My own ideas of the American vision are different than Gomez’s but have been enlarged after reading this. Gomez says that America is exceptional and that to be a citizen is a privilege. He is right. Lincoln's words are perhaps the best at expressing it although not quoted by Gomez himself, “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.” ( )
  sacredheart25 | Jan 26, 2014 |
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