Over the past few days there has been a national and worldwide uproar over President Donald Trump’s immigration ban on certain countries. Immigration is a relatively modern problem that has garnered much debate and discussion as to how to handle this delicate issue. The Catholic Church has always treated immigrants with care and support so as to help them assimilate and integrate into the country in which they live. The Church has always followed two principles when dealing with immigration and they can be found in St. Thomas Aquinas’ great work, the Summa Theologica. According to Aquinas it is clear that immigration must have two things in mind: the first is the nation’s unity; and the second is the common good.
In order that a nation may continue to thrive, a new immigrant should be willing to integrate and follow the laws and traditions of the country they wish to settle in. There have been problems in Europe with Muslim immigrants and refugees not assimilating into their host countries, but rather they form their own separate enclaves with their own laws. An immigrant should not only desire to assume the benefits, but the responsibilities of joining into the full fellowship of the nation.
St. Thomas’s second consideration concerning immigration emphasizes that the common good of a nation needs to be protected. A country must be able to limit immigration if it does not have the resources to provide for the immigrants well-being as well as not put the nation under financial duress. The United States was built on the ideas and ingenuity of many immigrants over the course of the years looking for a better life for themselves and their children. The nation must practice justice and charity towards all, including foreigners, but it must above all safeguard the common good and its unity, without which no country can long endure.