On July 26th, Mr. Kevin Appleby (formerly of the Maryland Catholic Conference) spoke at St. Matthew's Cathedral. He is currently the Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs at the USCCB.
Here is a first hand account from a particpant. Thank you.
This is a series, and in this first talk, he focused on the biblical and papal injunctions to care for migrants and the view of the bishops on US immigration policy.
The facts on which the bishops were operating, as he described them, were largely CIR propaganda--we don't need more enforcement because Obama is already deporting more illegal aliens than any other President, the best way to stop illegal immigration is to admit them all legally, not allowing immigrants to bring their brothers, sisters, etc. is "separating families", etc. He also claimed that most economists agree that over the long run immigrants are net contributors (he evidently was unaware of the Jordan Commission report). He did admit that Americans without a high school degree were probably "hurt."
He said that there was "work to do" in getting many Catholics to understand all of this, although he admitted that during Mass might not be the best time. This was the basis of my own question, which was, more or less: "The opposition of myself and other Catholics I know to the pushing of CIR by the bishops is not our failure to understand the issues, but our doubts that the bishops are competent to take positions on complex issues such as which family members should be admitted, how best to deal with illegal aliens already here (the example I gave was giving them a 2-year work permit if they committed to return home versus offering them a "path to citizenship"), etc. He expected the bishops to remind us to show charity even to illegal immigrants, but they should stay out of the weeds of immigration policy. His response was that the bishops may not have time to become immigration policy experts but they had staff like himself who did and that the bishops intervened in other policy matters such as abortion laws. I was not offered a rebuttal opportunity.
One woman politely questioned whether the policies he supported would make it harder for the black teenagers she worked with to get a good job. I don't recall how he answered.
There were two "hostile" questions about why the Church was supporting "open borders," but the questioners were incoherent and didn't do us any favors. The speaker asked "did someone send you here": both said they had read about the meeting in their parish bulletins. He didn't ask me that question.
There were a few softball questions. One interesting question came from a woman, with a heavy Asian accent, who said she had overstayed her visa because she could make more money here than at home and wondered why she would not be eligible for legalization. He misunderstood the question and didn't really answer it, so I intervened to inform her that visa overstayers would also be eligible for legalization.
Everyone was very polite to me, but when I got up to leave I could see in the faces of many in the audience that I was the devil incarnate.