Proving conclusively that there is no cow too sacred for criticism, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said Thursday that Pope Francis was wrong on the subject of illegal immigration. “I think that the Pope is a very political person,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network. “I think he doesn’t understand the problems that our country has.”
Trump made his remarks in advance of Francis’s trip to Mexico on February 12th, where he intends to spend six days in some of the country’s most embattled cities. While the primary focus of his trip will be to preach against the violence and corruption that the drug cartels have brought to cities like Juarez, the pontiff also reportedly plans to stand with migrants at the border in a symbolic condemnation of America’s immigration laws.
Francis has never shrouded his feelings on the subject. In July 2014, he released a statement that said: “Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often die tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”
Last summer, Francis said that Americans opposed to illegal immigration needed prayer. “I invite you all to ask forgiveness for the persons and the institutions who close the door to these people who are seeking a family, who are seeking to be protected.”
Trump’s not on board. “I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico,” he said. “I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune and we’re losing.”
It comes down to this: Why aren’t thousands of Americans desperately trying to emigrate to Mexico? Is there something so magical about U.S. geology that makes us the preferred place to live? Of course not. We are the land of opportunity because of our unique system of government, our unique cultural tapestry, and our incomparable free market economy. Our military has grown to such power that we are virtually immune to invasion.
But a hostile war is not the only way to destroy a great republic. Great empires of the past have decayed gradually, their dominance undermined by corruption, interior revolution, and cultural degradation. The United States may have little to fear from an outside military threat, but we will certainly not survive if these factors overwhelm our constitutional foundation.
A wise man once said that you could take all the money from the top 1%, give it to the bottom 1%, and within a short period of time, the original rich folks would have it all back. The same might indeed be true of America. If everyone in Mexico and everyone in the U.S. switched places overnight, how long would it take Mexico to become the world’s greatest empire? How long until the U.S. was wrecked with poverty and violence? A country is its people, its values, its history, its traditions, and its laws. There’s nothing sinful about wanting to keep our country the way it is.