Anti-Immigrant and Pro-Choice: Are we the same?

When President Trump started his anti-immigration campaign, many of my pro-choice friends took that prime opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of right-wing politics. The argument goes something like this: how can you say that you defend life when you refuse to care for the lives of refugees, especially refugee children, especially when these lives are in danger in large part because of Western meddling in the Middle East?

Regardless of the merits of a pro-choice or anti-refugee position, what I found striking was the eerie resemblance between pro-choice rhetoric and anti-refugee rhetoric. This rhetoric includes various versions of:

Anti-Immigration:

  • I have a right to protect myself from others who might hypothetically endanger my well-being
  • I should not be forced to be responsible for others that I did not choose
  • Given their socio-economic situation, they’re likely to turn out to be criminals, or at least drains on me and my society
  • You need my society to bestow you with citizenship before you will be granted rights and dignity
  • This being is an unwelcome foreigner into my space

Pro-Choice

  • I have a right to protect myself from others who might hypothetically endanger my well-being
  • I should not be forced to be responsible for others that I did not choose
  • Given this socio-economic situation, they’re likely to turn out to be criminals, or at least drains on me and my society
  • You need my society to bestow you with personhood before you will be granted rights and dignity
  • This being is an unwelcome intruder into my space

What struck me most about this has not been the hypocrisy of either side, but rather how similar they sound, almost as if they come from the same kind of place. They may have different conclusions, but they share the same principles that close them off to life and refuse responsibility for the others they see primarily as a burden. That is, they come to different conclusions, but for strangely similar reasons. I’m still not sure what to make of this, but I wonder if it is partly to explain for the increase in pro-life, pro-immigrant Catholic young adults.


Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops. 

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