Vail, Colorado CO
Between the outrage on either side of the immigration debate is Father Jude Geilenkirchen.
Between the charges of racism, fears of terrorism and the grave threats to the American Way, Padre Tadeo, as Geilenkirchen is known to his parishioners, is more concerned with human dignity than immigration status when people living in Eagle County are in need.
Geilenkirchen understands the root of the problem: That immigrants are going to cross the borders as long as the promise of a better life looms in Eagle County and the rest of the United States.
He is empathetic enough to understand that when one’s family is in need, immigration laws are easily ignored. He also points out that many of us naturalized American citizens would make the same choice to seek prosperity for our own children.
Geilenkirchen says he supports immigration reform, though not the extreme measures of Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, an advocate of walling off the border.
He has the compassion to realize illegal immigrants who simply want to work are not the criminals they are portrayed to be and that those who are law-abiding deserve a break from a nation that, despite its morals, is lacking in compassion on this issue.
Geilenkirchen also says the church believes in the law, but that sometimes treating people humanely ” i.e., feeding them or helping them find medical care or simply listening to them when there’s no one else they trust ” is a loftier mission.
Illegal immigrants are straining social services and in the worst cases, fostering the growth of identity theft rings and other criminal enterprises. But the country has not been served well either by paranoid nativists who fear the unassimilated Latin American horde or the left’s labeling of everyone who pushes for change a bigot.
Geilenkirchen’s sober view is the kind that will lead to solutions.