Arizona goes to the Supreme Court: Catholic perspectives on immigration from Fairfield University professor Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J.



Image: Rick RyscavageRev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., director of Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life who was executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of Migration and Refugee Services, has the following to say about the controversial Arizona law on immigration that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear. The case will be closely watched as President Obama seeks a second term.

"One of the Catholic Church's core social principles could support Arizona's immigration law which is being challenged by the Obama administration before the Supreme Court," Fr. Ryscavage said. "The principle of subsidiarity says that social problems are best solved at the level at which they arise and that the federal government should help the lower levels of government deal with social problems. Arizona is saying that the federal government is not helping Arizona deal with unauthorized immigration and in fact is not enforcing federal immigration laws. The principle of subsidiarity would challenge the doctrine of  ‘preemption' where the federal government reserves to itself certain areas of law, including immigration, where federal law trumps state law. Subsidiarity is the Church's way of preventing higher authorities from taking away the local authority's ability to build the common good."

Fr. Ryscavage, professor of sociology at Fairfield, served as national director of the Jesuit Refugee Service. While he was executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of Migration and Refugee Services, he ran one of the world's largest refugee resettlement agencies. In addition, Fr. Ryscavage was president of CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.

Fairfield's Center for Faith and Public Life is overseeing two grant-funded initiatives that relate to different aspects of the immigration issue: the "Immigrant Student National Position Paper" focusing on undocumented students and "Strangers as Neighbors: Religious Language and the Response to Immigrants in the U.S."

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on December 16, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 149