Bishop Advocates Illegal Options

Sep 16, 2008 11:06 PM. All work by , , ,

NEWTON—Before an audience of roughly 200, Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini proclaimed that ethics take precedent over human legislation, namely, that illegal immigration is currently the only hope to saving Guatemalan lives.

Ramazzini delivered his speech, in Spanish, to a crowded congregation of Spanish and English speakers at Boston College earlier this evening. Ramazzini's words were translated into English by event coordinator Brinton Lykes of B.C.'s Center for Human Rights and International Justice.

"If a person is in extreme extreme need that could lead to death," said Ramazzini, "that person is allowed to steal."

The Guatemalan bishop prefaced that statement, saying that it is a principle that is approved by other bishops on a national level. He closed the message saying that the fact that Guatemalans are in such a desperate condition is something that should be addressed first.

There were those in the audience who dearly agreed with Ramazzini's principle, like Prof. Lykes.

"Ramazzini is an extraordinary human being, and he did a wonderful presentation," said Lykes who recently returned from Guatemala. She lead a team of researches into Guatemala over the summer for a first hand look at the country's immigration problems.

"We were a little bit surprised by what kind of debt whole families accumulate [crossing the border]," commented Lykes.

According to Lykes, border guides called "coyotes" charge upwards of $7,000 to attempt to illegally pass someone through to the U.S. For those who are found and deported, the failure is a huge financial setback that is hard to recover from, said Lykes.

Monica Valdez, a graduate student who accompanied Lykes on the mission to Guatemala, said that the situation is a "catch 22." In small communities, parents who leave Guatemala to find work and support their families indirectly bring about a broken household. Kids whose mothers and fathers are not around to instill good values do not necessarily turn out better than those whose parents are earning less money, voiced Valdez.

"It was just one of those experiences that really sort of changes your perception," Valdez began, "about what poverty is; what people really go through; what children are feeling."

Senior Annie Matsko, an international studies major at B.C., said that illegal border crossing is the only option some families have, and she intends to help them. Matsko plans to live along the U.S.-Mexican border before going to law school in order to eliminate the "ivory tower" perspective.

"How could you criminalize the person who is simply trying to make a life for themselves? Simply trying to help their families?" asked Matsko.

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