August 27, 2010


Immigrants and jobs

The Aug. 2-9 issue of America magazine reports that the United Farm Workers has a website called that is trying to recruit farm workers. It says, “We will use our knowledge and staff to help connect the unemployed with farm employers.”

In this time of high unemployment, farms continue to have a difficult time getting enough workers, which is why at least 50 percent of the farm workers in the United States are not legally allowed to work here. Many farms are unable to harvest their crops because they can’t get American workers to do it.

In the Aug. 1 issue of The Indianapolis Star, Professor David Suzuki, who teaches Asian-American studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, wrote a column about the unjust laws that were passed back in the 19th century to keep Chinese from entering this country even though Chinese workers built the branch of the transcontinental railroad that traversed the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

He wrote, “Then, as now, ‘Americans’ shunned the work that many immigrants did. Yet, the dominant, media-fed perception of the time was that Chinese immigrants were stealing jobs away from Americans and causing economic hardships for non-Chinese.”

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned entry of Chinese into the U.S. That is when Suzuki’s grandfather emigrated from Japan to meet the labor needs resulting from the ban on Chinese immigration. Then the anti-Chinese perceptions were transferred to the Japanese, and the Immigration Act of 1924 barred immigration from China, Japan, India and Korea.

Suzuki wrote, “Many of the perceptions of Hispanics are a continuation of the anti-immigrant sentiments that started with the Chinese immigrants.” He is wrong about that, though. They actually started after the Irish flooded the country after Ireland’s potato famine of 1845. “Americans” complained that the Irish were taking their jobs, and businesses posted signs saying “Irish need not apply.”

Since the illegal immigration issue is so divisive, perhaps Congress should work on the problem piecemeal instead of with one big bill that would have little chance to pass. We think, for example, that most people would support more temporary visas for agricultural jobs that American workers refuse to take.

That is one of five elements that, according to Cardinal Roger Mahony, most Americans agree on. The other four are: the need for the home countries of immigrants to take greater responsibility for the plight of their citizens; increased border security; making more visas available for unskilled workers in addition to the agricultural workers; and allowing children of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States at an early age to become legal residents.

—John F. Fink

Catholic generosity

Rightly or wrongly, the Catholic Church seems to be a regular target for pundits.

But one thing that cannot be disputed is the generosity that Catholics worldwide demonstrate when there is a disaster or tragedy.

The latest evidence that we continue to follow Christ’s mandate to assist our brothers and sisters in need comes in figures released concerning our response to last January’s earthquake in Haiti.

Catholic agencies around the world have collected more than $303 million for Haitian relief, with additional funds arriving daily.

According to a recent Catholic News Service story, the amount reflects money for special collections sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, the worldwide network of Caritas International charitable agencies and other Catholic-connected agencies sponsoring ministries in Haiti.

The total is likely to be significantly greater because the figures provided by Caritas Internationalis exclude money raised by organizations and religious orders and congregations outside the Caritas network.

Of the amount, nearly half—$147,473,281—came from U.S. Catholics. People in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis sent $650,000 to Catholic Relief Services.

“When you see someone suffering, you try and help them. When you see someone desperate, you do everything you can to help them,” said Oblate Father Andrew Small, director of the Collection for the Church in Latin America for the U.S. bishops.

There continues to be a need for our compassion and generosity in Pakistan, where millions of people have been forced to flee the country’s worst flooding in 80 years.

At his weekly audience on Aug. 18, Pope Benedict XVI appealed again for solidarity and concrete assistance for the people affected by the flooding in Pakistan that began in late July, and has left an estimated 1,500 people dead and about 2 million people homeless.

We pray that Catholics and people of all faith traditions take the Holy Father’s words to heart and generously respond—again.

—Mike Krokos

(For more information on how to donate to Pakistani relief efforts, go to or call 888-277-7575.)

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