WASHINGTON (CNS) — A recent survey released by two Washington institutions shows a significant division of views on immigration between the two biggest racial and ethnic groups in the Catholic Church of the United States.
One “big picture” thing about Catholics revealed in the survey, said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, is that “white (non-Hispanic) Catholics and Latino Catholics are in different universes” on issues such as immigration and other areas of concern in the 2016 election.
They differ on immigration laws, on their level of comfort or discomfort about being around people who speak little or no English, on whether the culture in the United States has changed for the better since the 1950s, said Jones, whose group partnered with the Brookings Institution to conduct the survey of 2,600 participants in May.
“There’s huge divides,” between the two groups of Catholics, Jones said during a June 23 presentation about the findings. A survey from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate says 38 percent of those in the Catholic Church self-identify as Hispanic and 54 percent of the national Catholic population self-identifies as white, non-Hispanic, making them the two largest ethnic and racial groups in the U.S. Catholic Church.
Among their differences, the survey found that:
— More than three-quarters, or 77 percent, of Hispanic Catholics favor allowing immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally an opportunity to become citizens, compared to 55 percent of white Catholics.
— A majority of white Catholics (64 percent) said American culture and way of life has changed for the worse since 1950s, while 62 percent of Latino Catholics say American culture has changed for the better since the 1950s.
— A majority of white Catholics (68 percent) said they are bothered when they come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English, compared to 17 percent of Latino Catholics who answered the same question.
Other findings also show that “when it comes to views about immigrants and certain immigration policies, the views of white Catholics are much more closely aligned with white evangelical Protestants than Latino Catholics,” said Dan Cox, PRRI’s research director. “In this case, race and ethnic background matters more than religious affiliation when it comes to determining views on immigration,” he added.
Though the U.S. bishops, the pope, groups of clergy and religious as well as lay groups have repeatedly spoken against the building of a wall between the U.S and Mexico and the U.S. bishops publicly opposed in December the suggestion of a ban on Muslims from entering the U.S., the survey found that:
— A majority (51 percent) of white Catholics favor construction of a wall between the United States and Mexico, while 26 percent of Latino Catholics favor the same.
— A majority (52 percent) of white Catholics support a temporary ban on Muslims from other countries from entering the United States, while 25 percent of Latino Catholics support such a ban.
Concerns about immigration ranked behind terrorism, unemployment, crime and the cost of education as critical issues in the survey on the 2016 election, but there’s hardly another issue that seems to generate more varied and complex feelings and views. Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, was one of six panelists discussing findings from the survey. She said Americans’ views have not been historically favorable on the topic of immigration.
“I’ve never seen a poll in which Americans favored increasing immigration,” she said.
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Bowman said, Americans were overwhelmingly opposed to allowing European refugees into the United States and opposed to open borders with Great Britain even after the war. Bowman said since 1965, Gallup has asked the same questions on immigration 29 times: Should the numbers of immigrants be kept at present levels? Should they increase or decrease? And the percentage of Americans favoring an increase in immigration has never been higher than 27 percent, she said.
Overall, in the PRRI/Brookings study, just 6 percent of those surveyed said they believe that the current system of immigration is “generally working,” and many expressed various anxieties about immigrants. However, Bowman said, even though “Americans have not now, nor ever, been particularly enthusiastic about immigrants … neither do people want punishment” for them. Of those surveyed, 61 percent said “immigrants in the U.S. illegally should be allowed a way to become citizens, provided they meet certain requirements.”
The results were released on the day the U.S. Supreme Court announced a 4-4 decision — a deadlock — that effectively blocked one such plan set forth by President Barack Obama in 2014. The executive action taken by the president would have temporarily protected unauthorized immigrants from deportation and allowed the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a work permit. It is known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.
Another notable finding of the PRRI/Brookings survey indicated that “no religious group expresses more apprehension about terrorism than Hispanic Catholics.” The study found that 70 percent, or 7 in 10 of Hispanic Catholics, “say they feel at least somewhat worried about terrorism affecting them or their family,” compared to 54 percent of white Catholics who said the same.
The survey, in English and Spanish, was conducted before the June 12 attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of terrorism.
Every western civilized nation has had enforced borders. I doubt the part above about American Hispanics wanting more illegals here. Most of my Hispanic friends friends strongly oppose these tidal waves of disease, crime, and taking of our money. Like true Americans, we believe in controlled due process to citizenship. Americans are hated by many groups in the world, and we know from accurate viewing of HLS records, terrorists-illegals/criminals ARE already committing a growing number of felonious acts here. Few of those coming here are even practicing Christians. The addition of tens of thousands of Muslims from the Middle East absolutely guarantees many future terrorist acts against us. Mark my words. Many more deaths, chaos, and mayhem will befall the good people of the USA starting within months due to open borders.
One set of Grandparents came from Ireland only speaking their language, Gallic. but learned excellant English. Another from Switzerland and also learned English. I found working with Spanish speaking that in front of others, they always spoke Spanish. This made us feel very unwelcome! Even when they were told to speak English with the group, if boss wasn’t there, they reverted to Spanish. They also spoke Spanish to their children. Now other relatives would speak their native language to themselves if they didn’t want their children to know what they were saying!
I remember Fr Benedict Groeschel saying that having Spanish, etc. Masses was dividing the people. I agree. The money now spent on so many translations would be better spent on classes for English.
While I agree that many immigrants, including those from Latin America, come to the US for economic reasons, and that financial remittances back to family members in their home country are significant, it is not true that immigrants, whether here legally or not, “don’t want to learn” English. Actually most do, but learning any foreign language is very difficult. And becoming fluent is even harder. Even my great-grandparents who came to the US around 1910 from the Austria-Hungary, and only spoke Slovak, learned just enough English to get by. It was my grandparents who came as children who learned English, and now none of us in the fourth generation know any Slovak. I believe you’ll find this generational language trend continues to hold, regardless of the particular ethnic group of immigrant. As for the supposed influx of gangs and drugs, I remind you that the Crips and Bloods you cite are actually African-American gangs, and that it is not immigrants per se, whether here legally or not, but rather any disadvantaged population with low opportunities and lack of support structures in which gangs thrive. Even Hispanic gangs are populated primarily by natural-born US citizens.
Drug problems are due primarily to illicit demand from portions of the US population itself, and while cocaine is indeed smuggled into our country from its production sites in South America, it is primarily US citizens that are feeding the current epidemic of meth labs and prescription opiate trafficking. The country’s problems cannot be solved by blaming whole groups of people, most of whom are honest and hard-working and not involved in any criminal activity.
These polls apparently do not take into account the fact that most Americans, from my personal experience, are not only thrilled but very welcoming when a new group of citizens take the oath of citizenship with smiles and congratulations all around. This Country admits over a million immigrants a year. The problem with the illegal immigrants that do not learn to speak English and have no intention of assimilating into the American culture which is disturbing enough, but the well known fact is that they are here for purely economic advantages and the money they earn flows back South of the border as evidenced by the many money transfer shops located where there is a high concentration of Latino immigrants. Add to that the influx of gangs and drugs (Crypts, Latin Kings, Bloods) from South of the border which despite Government claims is not secure and add to that some high profile crimes that are committed by people who have been deported and returned due to lack of immigration law enforcement, and it is easy to understand the differences in views between the so-called white population and the Hispanics. There are of course many more reasons why the polls conclude what they do but these are the main reasons which many people find disturbing about illegal immigrants. Opening up our borders simply to provide an economic advantage to others whom they feel are taking advantage of our generous programs for the poor along with the special treatment of looking the other way when the law is broken such as “capture and release” while citizens who violate the law are in many cases treated more severely and that adds to resentment. After all the Country can only support so many of the worlds poor particularly when there are so many other opportunities to help the poor in their own countries and to even help them to help themselves which many Catholics feel the Church is not doing enough to encourage.
The “wish for a wall” is of course ridiculous, if understandible– the Mexican drug cartels have long networks of tunnels even now under the patrolled border region.
I am annoyed by both American and British Catholic Bishops who advocate open-armed welcome of all and sundry immigrants, despite the difficulty of discerning whether they are genuine refugees, or opportunistic economic migrants, or crypto-terrorists. I am ashamed that they do not prioritise Christian refugees over Muslim ones, as the Christians are the most needy– and are frequently persecuted and victimised by their “fellow” Muslim refugees. Aren’t we supposed to have a preferential option for the poorest of the poor ?
Not one of the Bishops in print has referred to St Thomas Aquinas’ wise consideration & analysis of prudent charity towards immigrants in the Summa Theologica. (google: “Thomas Aquinas on immigrants” )
—In brief, he said we owe the refugee poor food, clothing and shelter, but not necessarily entry or citizenship until they have proved they will acculturate. Aquinas pointed out that it was unjust to let in such numbers of aliens that national culture, unity and security was compromised. He balanced the needs of the stranger with the welfare of the state.
In other words; people have a right to freedom of movement ; they do not have the right to demand a state grant them residence.
By his logic, Aquinas would approve of WELL RUN, humane refugee camps until they can be safely repatriated, or prepared for successful acculturation in a new country. But go read him for yourselves.