U.S. Congressman calls my tweet ridiculous

I’ve been disappointed by the strong movement to push for the U.S. government to halt acceptance of Syrian refugees in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris. This seems to me to be allowing fear to overtake our humanity, compassion, intelligence, and common sense.

Let’s be clear: It is obvious that no one can guarantee that no single terrorist will slip in along with the tens of thousands of refugees, fleeing terror themselves.

But there are many risks no one can guarantee to protect us from that we reasonably open ourselves every day to by our laws, policies, and practices.

Every time I fly I see hundreds of people skipping security checkpoints to pass through the TSA “pre-check” route. Sure, they’ve been officially vetted in the past, but you can’t guarantee they haven’t been radicalized since then. Of course, common sense tells us the chances are that are so small, it’s worth the “risk” to speed up the process for everyone.

Many schools are installing metal detectors at their doors to protect students. But they’re not putting bars on the windows to prevent the bad guys from coming in that way! This is taking a risk. But there’s only so much one can reasonably do to eliminate risk without sacrificing other important values, right?

One example that seemed to me to be especially worthwhile is this one: We’ve seen a lot of terrible gun violence in the United States. Deranged or evil people have successfully gone after elementary school students, college students, movie-goers, black church-goers, and more. And statistics make clear that this problem, while not exclusively American, is predominantly American, here in this country with our very permissive guns laws. Time and time again, leaders and activists have called for reasonable restrictions on access to guns, only to be dismissed and mocked by many on the right, who criticize their willingness to sacrifice our freedoms in an abundance of caution.

So like I said, I thought that was an especially apt analogy when considering the current move to “pause” the influx of refugees out of an abundance of caution. I chose to make that point this week to several of our lawmakers via Twitter, including those who sponsored the “American SAFE Act,” a bill that passed handily in the House of Representatives to do just that.

One of those I tweeted was U.S. Representative Richard Hudson, a Republican from North Carolina, who co-sponsored the act.

I tweeted: “.@RepRichHudson: Funny, I don’t remember your call for a #pause on permissive gun control regs after Sandy Hook or Umpqua.”

And to my surprise, Rep. Hudson tweeted back! Taking time out of his busy congressional schedule, he (or one of his communications people) wrote to me: “I will blame your iPhone for that ridiculous Tweet. #ThinkAboutIt”

Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit it, and I suppose it’s the result of my wonky, civics-loving nature, not to mention a hearty respect for our government and its leaders, but my first and strongest reaction has been that I’m just delighted that a U.S. congressman chose to tweet to me at all, despite the fact that he did it to say my comment was “ridiculous.”

Of course, being called ridiculous by a congressman is a little disheartening, once you get thinking about it. And it’s hard not to wonder about taking it so personally that I’d not want to vote for members of his party in the future, though I’ve cast plenty of votes during my adult life for Republicans in the past. But I know that would be an over-reaction.

My kids told me I should look on the bright side: all the Democrats who see that will think I’m really cool. There is that.

If they do, maybe some of our lawmakers on that side of the aisle will be willing to hear me out on abortion. I’ll need to take a breath before that conversation, though. One can only be called ridiculous so often.

Follow-up: More on Mass at the border

Nice collection of photos from the Archdiocese of Boston. More from Al Jazeera

Interesting: The USCCB worked in advance with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to ensure that Holy Communion could be distributed through the border fence during Mass.

Fox News helpfully offers Arizona state Senator (Republican) Al Melvin’s take on the event: “Frankly, and I am a Catholic, I think this is irresponsible of these bishops to be down there,” Melvin said. “They are not bringing stability to the border.  They are adding to the chaos of the border. And it’s not helping to save lives. If anything, I believe it will contribute to more lives being lost. We need to secure the border to protect lives.”

Philip Lawler’s Catholic World News (at CatholicCulture.org), in an article five paragraphs long, spends one paragraph repeating Melvin’s observations.

Arizona Republic columnist rightly observes of the bishops’ visit to the border: “If you’re them, that’s where you should be.”

A must-read for background: Ananda Rose Robinson’s 2009 Commonweal article “Borderline: Stranded in Nogales.”

Mass on the Border

A dramatic event today at Nogales, Arizona, on the U.S./Mexico border — what has been called “America’s Lampedusa.” Here’s how the USCCB described it in advance:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, March 30-April 1, 2014, to tour the U.S.-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the U.S. desert since 1998.

The Mass will be celebrated at 9 a.m. on April 1, followed by a press conference at 10:30 a.m.

The following U.S. bishops plan to travel to Nogales for the April 1 Mass:

His Eminence Sean Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston

Most Reverend Eusebio Elizondo, Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle and Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson

Most Reverend John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City

Most Reverend Mark Seitz, Bishop of El Paso

Most Reverend Oscar Cantu, Bishop of Las Cruces, NM

Most Reverend Ricardo Ramirez, Bishop Emeritus of Las Cruces, NM

Most Reverend Luis Zarama, Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta

Whispers in the Loggia has the video and the full text of Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s homily. A snippet from that homily:

The hard work and sacrifices of so many immigrant peoples is the secret of the success of this country. Despite the xenophobic ranting of a segment of the population, our immigrant population contributes mightily to the economy and well being of the United States.

Here in the desert of Arizona, we come to mourn the countless immigrants who risk their lives at the hands of the coyotes and the forces of nature to come to the United States. Every year 400 bodies are found here at the border, bodies of men, women and children seeking to enter the United States. Those are only the bodies that are found. As the border crossings become more difficult, people take greater risks and more are perishing.

Last year about 25,000 children, mostly from Central America, arrived in the US, unaccompanied by an adult. Tens of thousands of families are separated in the midst of migration patterns. More than 10 million undocumented immigrants are exposed to exploitation and lack access to basic human services, and are living in constant fear. They contribute to our economy by their hard work, often by contributing billions of dollars each year to the social security fund and to Medicare programs that will never benefit them.

The U.S. bishops should be applauded and thanked for this courageous and dramatic effort to call attention to the dignity and the needs of some of the poorest among us and to continue and intensify their advocacy of immigration reform.

Thank you, Senator Rubio

This comes today in an email from Catholic Charities USA (an organization of the Catholic bishops of the United States):

Tell Senator Marco Rubio ‘Thank You” for His Work with the Gang of Eight

Dear Supporter of immigration reform,

Organizations opposed to reform are flooding U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s office with calls, messages and faxes attacking him for his support of immigration reform.  A recent Washington Post article reported that one group and “its members have inundated the office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) with 100,000 faxes.”

Senator Rubio needs to hear from people throughout the country that they are looking for his leadership in the Senate on this issue and that he must continue to support immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.

Call Senator Rubio’s office at 202-224-3041 or send him an email at http://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-rubio?p=Contact and thank him for his outstanding work on the Gang of Eight and encourage him to continue with his immigration reform efforts.

Looks like something worth acting on. I have.

Related, from last month:

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the official domestic anti-poverty agency of the U.S. bishops, has approved special grants totaling nearly $1 million to mobilize Catholics on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform and to prepare Catholic institutions for the prospects of reform legislation.

Full release from the U.S. Bishops’ office here.