'Conventional' Wisdom on Immigration
CATHAL Gallagher has about three weeks left in the U.S., as you'll read elsewhere in this issue. Gallagher was born in Donegal and spent over two decades working as a priest in Japan. That doesn't quite seem like the background of a priest who would not only relocate to, but decide to plant roots in, the sparse, rural lands of South Dakota
The towns may be small, but Gallagher surely has to deal with earthly and spiritual crises on a daily basis, just like any other hardworking priest.
Right now, the main problem in Gallagher's life is that, after about 10 years of trying to navigate U.S. immigration law and attempting to secure permanent residency, Gallagher's time in South Dakota might be running out.
"I liked this place, the prairies, the people," he said in a recent interview with Catholic News Service. "Yes, this is where I'd like to spend the rest of my career."
But unless, well, a miracle occurs, Gallagher has to pack his bags by July 1.
Gallagher, of course, is not the only immigrant currently snared in an immigration limbo. And, yes, some of the people who get caught by immigration laws are potential terrorists, tax cheats or other criminals.
That all being said, it is worth noting that the two South Dakota senators who have spoken out for Gallagher come from different political parties. Johnson is a Democrat, while Thune is a Republican. Yet both seem to recognize that there are areas of current U.S. immigration law that are, at best, irrational.
All of which suggests that this is a crucial moment in terms of hoping to see any kind of immigration reform. After all, we finally have our presidential contenders, Barack Obama and John McCain, two other senators from different sides of the aisle. And yet, they too seem to acknowledge that something substantive and constructive should be done about immigration.