Refuge in the Lord: Catholics, Presidents, & the Politics of Immigration, 1981-2013

By Arnold, Kathleen R. | The Catholic Historical Review, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Refuge in the Lord: Catholics, Presidents, & the Politics of Immigration, 1981-2013


Arnold, Kathleen R., The Catholic Historical Review


Refuge in the Lord: Catholics, Presidents, & the Politics of Immigration, 1981-2013. By Lawrence J. McAndrews. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. 2015. Pp. xiv, 287. $34.95 paperback. ISBN 978-0-81322779-5.)

In this well-researched and interesting book, Lawrence McAndrews closely investigates the relationship between Catholic leaders' immigration positions and presidential policies in contemporary times. The time period McAndrews has chosen is one of the most important for understanding significant changes in immigration policies, from debates preceding the 1986 Immigration and Reform through post-September 11, 2001, policies on immigration and refugees. Like Cheryl Shanks' politico-historical analysis of the 1965 Hart-Celler Act and the 1986 IRCA, McAndrews examines key debates, leaders, divisions, and negotiations leading up to major policies but with an exclusive focus on Catholic leaders and the opinions of Catholic laypeople. Because the Catholic Church is a key institution in refugee resettlement and in providing aid and pastoral care to immigrants of all types of legal status, this investigation fills in a crucial gap in the immigration literature. For scholars of refugee matters, McAndrews' examination of the beginning of the U.S. refugee program is particularly important as he provides a historically informed analysis of the beginnings of this program and debates surrounding its expansion from the 1980s onward. In particular, he explores the plight of Haitians, Cubans, and Central Americans-groups often designated as "economic" refugees and therefore ineligible for refugee status. However, key leaders in the Catholic Church contested this designation, attempting to change bureaucratic rules and legislation on the one hand and calling for churches to offer sanctuary on the other. …

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