San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


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A number of scholars have commented on the significance of religious traditions to the debate concerning immigration policy in the United States.[1] In this Article, we contend that the Catholic legal tradition is relevant to the contemporary debate among policymakers, as it balances policy considerationsof the right to immigrate as well as the right of a nation to regulate its borders advocated on both ends of the policy debate. Section I of this Article discusses the current policy debate concerning comprehensive immigration reform and recent major legislative proposals for comprehensive immigration reform, including the plan of the “Gang of Eight” in 2013. Section II explains the biblical foundations concerning migration and key elements in Catholic social teaching concerning immigration. In Section III, we provide the outline of a contemporary proposal for comprehensive immigration reform that incorporates Catholic social principles. To highlight the value of the universal common good and to balance both strands of Catholic social thought, we advocate a proposal for immigration reform which largely emphasizes community service, instead of fines, as a precondition for undocumented individuals to earn legalized status.[2] In addition, following the lead of an article in the Economist in February 2015, we advocate a part of the proposal where individual states can have a role in comprehensive immigration reform[3] that is consistent with Catholic social teaching.].