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Migration Policy, the Catholic Church and the American Century

How have religious institutions helped to shape the formation of migration policy in twentieth century America and how has migration policy, once institutionalized, helped to shape religious institutions? Although a number of studies have focused on the development of migration policy from a secular political perspective, most gloss over, if not ignore, religion as a relevant factor. While unfortunate, this is not surprising. The historian Jon Butler has highlighted the tendency to ignore the role of religion in contemporary historical studies and to find “religion in modern America more anomalous than normal and more innocuous than powerful.” Recent publications, including Lawrence McAndrews’ book Refuge in the Lord: Catholics, Presidents, and the Politics of Immigration, 1981-2013 and Grainne McEvoy’s recent dissertation (and, a man can dream, soon to be a published book), American Catholic Social Thought and the Immigration Question in the Restriction Era, 1917–1965, alongside the periodically published journal article on the subject have sought to fill this gap. Nevertheless, given the long standing failure to integrate American religious history with the development of secular policy, more is needed. The contentious character of migration in American life today (and yesterday… and the day before) and the way in which it informs issues related to identity, both national and religious, provides a platform to examine a wide range of issues of importance to American Catholic life.

One of the immediate objectives of this website is to contribute to a better understanding of the way in which religion, and particularly the Catholic Church, has engaged the migration issue in American life. In time, I hope to expand into the vast array of issues that is American Catholicism. For now, I hope that bringing my academic expertise on American Catholicism to bear on my professionally based knowledge on migration and migration policy in the United States will help to fill gaps in the existing knowledge base, elucidate problems that emerge as a consequence, and more comprehensively address the relationship laid out above. I had originally pondered publishing a book on the matter, and this is an option that I am still considering, but not something to which I am completely committed. While I think that a peer review process of some sort is important as it provides helpful feedback to improve the delivery of ideas, I am not sure that the traditional way that it has been done necessarily has to be the way it is done in the future.

Planning on posting once a week to start, but it is quite possible that I will post once, or twice.. and stop! As any of you know who have tried, blogging is not easy, at least if one wants to do it intelligently. Feedback is always welcome.

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