Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, December 31, 2007


The Wall Street Journal, no bastion of liberalism, reports on immigration and some myths you may believe (or not).
Talk radio hosts, cable newscasters and Presidential hopefuls insist that foreign nationals drive crime rates, swell welfare rolls and steal jobs. But the data tell a very different story.

Between 1994 and 2005, the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. is estimated to have doubled to around 12 million. Yet according the Department of Justice, over that same period the violent crime rate in the U.S. declined by 34.2% and the property crime rate fell by 26.4%, reaching their lowest levels since 1973. Crime has fallen in cities with the largest immigrant populations -- such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami -- as well as border cities like San Diego and El Paso, Texas.

A recent paper by the Immigration Policy Center, an advocacy group, notes that "Numerous studies by independent researchers and government commissions over the past 100 years repeatedly and consistently have found that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than the native born." Today, immigrants on balance are five times less likely to be in prison than someone born here.

It's not because law-abiding foreign professionals from India and China are compensating for criminally inclined low-skill Latinos. Immigrants from countries that comprise the bulk of our illegal alien population -- including Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans -- have lower incarceration rates than the native-born.

Another popular belief is that immigrants come here to go on the dole. The data show that welfare caseloads have fallen as illegal immigration has risen. As Peter Wehner and Yuval Levin report in the December issue of Commentary magazine, "Since the high-water mark in 1994, the national welfare caseload has declined by 60%. Virtually every state in the union has reduced its caseload by at least a third, and some have achieved reductions of over 90%."

More of this interesting article is here. You might want to pass it along to a friend when you finish reading it.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Building Peace with Justice

Building Peace with Justice is a brief, weekly bulletin reflection written by members of a Public Policy sub-committee, in the diocese of Rochester, that links the Sunday readings to Catholic social teaching. Many parishes publish them as space allows.

For Sunday Bulletins on December 30
Today’s Feast of the Holy Family reminds us that every family is holy. Yet the holiness of family life today is threatened by many forces. Low wages force parents to work long hours apart from their children. Families of members of our armed forces serving in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer the trauma of separation and anxiety. Undocumented immigrant families right in our diocese are suddenly torn apart when a parent is arrested arbitrarily and deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Reflection: How can I influence my governmental representatives so that they place the holiness of the family at the top of their values when formulating public policy?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Building Peace with Justice

Building Peace with Justice is a brief, weekly bulletin reflection, written by members of a Public Policy sub-committee in the Diocese of Rochester, that links the Sunday readings to Catholic social teaching. Many parishes publish them as space allows.
For Sunday Bulletins on December 9
In one of the most beautiful passages of the Bible, the writer of Isaiah describes the kingdom of God after justice is administered and peace flourishes, a place where there is no harm or ruin. Although a descendant of Jesse will lead us to the kingdom of God, John the Baptist points out that all people will be welcomed. Christ welcomes all who follow him into the kingdom where righteousness and truth prevail.

Reflection: As a follower of Jesus does my life lead me towards the peaceful kingdom? Is this choice reflected by my pursuit of justice, my allocation of personal resources, my invitation to others to know Christ?

For Sunday Bulletins on December 16
“Human hearts are asked to prepare a way for the Lord. Just as Christmas celebrates the coming of Emmanuel so many years ago and how he continues to come and dwell among us, so Advent is the time to prepare each year for the coming of God-with-us. Advent beckons to us. Be still. Be alert. Get into the spirit of the Old Testament folks and yearn for a Savior. Cry out to God. Cry out to be open and receptive. Sharpen your awareness of the God who dwells within. Open up. Hollow out. Receive. Welcome the one who comes.” From Fresh Bread by Joyce Rupp, OSM

Reflection: In this Holy Season, how do we express our yearning for the one who is to come by welcoming and hollowing out a place for those already dwelling among us, like the immigrant, the homeless poor, the refugee of war or natural disaster?