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(A) In the overall realm of my life, what matters most to me is my individual relationships
with others. I believe there is something very precious about the basic act of sharing ones self
with another, so I have really begun to treasure my relationships with my family, friends,
acquaintances, God, and even strangers. Also, by engaging myself in activities or work that I
truly love and have a passion for, I can reach to be the best version of myself.
The following five virtues are what guide me on a daily basis: respect, thoughtfulness,
knowledge, humility and sacrifice. I believe that showing respect for all people is something that
every person deserves as a part of basic human dignity. I am extremely thoughtful, sometimes
unhealthily since I tend to overthink, which disposes me to often become distracted because of
anxiety. However, I always thirst for more whether it be in bettering myself or feeling like I
havent done enough to help others. I believe having knowledge allows one to support their
values so that they can share them to others. I hold humility dear because I dont like being the
center of attention. Lastly, sacrifice is another vital part needed in order to obtain a healthy
Honestly, before going on my immersion trip to Immokalee, Florida, there were no
specific causes that inspired me. After learning, engaging, and standing in solidarity with a
community so different from my own that is constantly facing so much injustice, I was
completely inspired by the positivity amongst people whose dignity was destroyed. This
positivity led me to realize the time I waste complaining and how I truly have a passion for
seeking justice by establishing relationships.
My family and close friends matter to me the most, but the vulnerable also matter to me.
Because of this, for me, the fact that everyone is human and should be treated as such is non-
negotiable. Everyone should treat others how they want to be treated no matter what
(B) I want to be a person who can truly empathize with those in need. I want to love who I
am fully, so that I can be a person FOR others. Therefore, I seek the virtues of selflessness and
compassion. Without these virtues, I am not fully avoiding the vices of selfishness and close-
mindedness, thus, permitting myself from establishing meaningful relationships with others and
myself. I think God is calling me to be a person that embraces acceptance of all people in order
to work towards the Kingdom of God where injustices are not engraved into the system. I think,
daily, God calls me to be a person expresses his love by being happy with each day I am living.
(C) My talent of effective communication will help me connect with others different from
me, showing an example to the world of acceptance. My concern for the human dignity of those
affected by injustice is growing into a passion, and I am excited to see where it will guide me in
helping the world.
(D) I am usually honest with myself, but when I dont want to face harder truths about myself
I struggle to grasp reality. I am completely blind to many political aspects of issues and concepts,
which makes it difficult for me to understand that paradigm that is expressed in media or through
others opinions. I am blind and have gaps of knowledge and experience in other realities
affecting other social justice issues. I also found that I do not know enough to totally listen to
people who dont support a justice I am fighting for.
-In making ethical decisions, I need to evaluate the values at stake, place myself in the agent of
the decisions shoes and then see if any of my own values are involved. After considering the
four sources of moral wisdom, I then need to make sure I focus on reasoning and discerning by
use of a Christian response, or, simply utilize what my mother has always told me, what would
Jesus do?

Case Study: Immokalee, Florida

Maria returns home after her immersion trip to Immokalee, Florida. Her weeklong trip

involved engaging in direct service with the community of immigrant farm workers, living in

solidarity with the community, and learning about the complexity of the economic justice issue

of immigration in the United States. At home, her family and her are celebrating her grandmas

birthday. When her family all sits down to eat dinner, her grandma says, Maria, tell us about

your service trip. Maria begins to explain the sites she served at: At the Guadalupe Center, she

spent time with the children of the farmworkers, at the homeless shelter, she sorted clothing, at

PACE Center for Girls, she worked with middle and high school girls who either have previously

dropped out of school, been arrested, or afflicted with teen pregnancy or substance abuse, etc.,

and at the Guadalupe Housing Services, she painted affordable condos for the less that minimum

wage workers to live in. In the middle of explaining how much she loved the trip and how much

she learned from the people down there, her stubborn and socially, politically, and religiously

conservative Aunt interrupts her and asks, So are you saying all the people down there that you

helped are living here illegally? Maria replied with a Yes, but then her Aunt wasnt interested

in what Maria had to say anymore. Her aunt began ranting: America cannot keep allowing these

foreigners to come to America. They are aliens and its illegal. They are taking many jobs and

there are already so many people IN America who are poor or unemployed. They dont deserve

to be here. Maria has a passion for these people, but does realize that her Aunt has a point that

the workers entry into the country was against the law. What should she do? Should she just

agree with her Aunt that they are illegal or should she convince her Aunt that she is wrong,

risking an explosion from your aunt potentially causing a ruined dinner? Should she take a

middle ground, but still come down firmly to defend the immigrant workers she has a

compassion for?

The general moral dilemma deals with the economic justice issue of immigration, or,

rather, immigration reform. The specific ethical decision is how Maria should go about

responding to her stubborn Aunt, or, rather how should she respond considerably without

surrendering her moral integrity forming from her immersion experience. At small and at large,

there are several aspects and values at stake. In regards to the family dinner, if Maria tries to

firmly argue her position and upsets her Aunt, that relationship may become at stake. Also,

depending upon how Maria goes about responding to her Aunts statements, a ruined dinner is at

stake. At a larger scale, considering the situation of Immokalee and other immigrants, if Maria

opts to keeping peace with her Aunt, the human dignity of immigrant workers become at stake

since Maria isnt raising awareness to people who dont fully have knowledge of the situation.

However, if Maria decides to forceful argue her position, following the law is placed at stake and

Maria becoming blind and completely closed-minded to what her aunt has to say is also placed at

stake. For proper evaluation of this situation, I will assume the role of the agent making the

decision, so as Maria. Personally, like stated in my ethical framework, the following five virtues

are what guide me on a daily basis: respect, thoughtfulness, knowledge, humility and sacrifice. In

regards to this decision, many of these personal values are involved: my respect for my Aunt, my

respect for the community of Immokalee and all immigrants, all the knowledge I learned during

my experience at Immokalee, the sacrifice and my own thoughtfulness of keeping peace with my

Aunt in order to prevent a fight at dinner, and being as humble as possible about my experience.

The relevant facts of this case involves what my Aunt holds true because of her

background and experience and what I hold true because of my own personal background and

experience. A concrete, undisputable fact is that more than half of U.S. farm workers are

undocumented immigrants (Wilkes-Edrington). Therefore, by law, they are considered to be

illegal. My Aunt emphasizes this truth and then further uses the truth of the workers illegality to

justify that they do not deserve to be working in America. From my experience, I have learned

the facts that even though the workers are illegal in Immokalee, they are trying to obtain

citizenship through social services. Also, tomatoe pickers in Immokalee work 10-12 hour days

and are only paid 50 cents for every 32-lb bucket of tomatoes they pick. This means a worker

must pick nearly 2.5 tons of tomatoes to earn minimum wage in a typical 10-hour workday

(Facts and Figures on Florida Farmworkers). It is important to maintain the truth that these

circumstances cannot equate to a living wage.

In consideration of human experience, the voices from history implement that without

immigration, the United States would not be what it is today. Americas original inhabitants

crossed the land bridge connecting Asia and North America tens of thousands of years ago, and

then by the 1500s, the first Europeans, led by the Spanish and French, had begun establishing

settlements in what would become the United States. Migration in search of better economic

opportunities or religious freedom occurred in several major waves of immigration, including

migrants coming over from Northern and Western Europe, Germany, and Asia (US Immigration

Before 1965). These people sought to move to the US for opportunity, and in return they really

helped the US develop economically and socially. Throughout the development of the country,

the United States has relied on the constant flow of newcomers to diversify society and boost

the economy (The History of Immigration Policies in the U.S).


However, starting in 1790, immigration became something that Congress felt like they needed to

control. Ever since the Naturalization Act of 1790, which required the applicant to have lived in

the country for two years prior to becoming naturalized, more and more amendments and laws

were put into place. These laws and restrictions have been developing from 1790 to today and

have regarded the aspects of putting caps on the number of immigrants, tightening boarder

controls, forming laws on how illegal and undocumented people can obtain citizenships, forming

laws on deportation, etc. (Immigration).

When considering immigration today, it is important to recognize that immigration is

nothing new to the US. However, because of the nature of the contemporary bipartisan

government and nation, immigration reform is a very controversial topic, especially in politics.

Currently, most of the immigrants today in the US come from Mexico and Central America.

These migrants have come from two surges, the surge from 1985 to 1994 that coincided with

the U.S. sponsored counterinsurgency wars in Central America and the surge from 1995-2004

that resulted from the economic hardship suffered by the next generation and the weakened

economies [that] were further destabilized (Carnayd-Freixas 92). This illustrates that most

immigrants in contemporary times are forced to come here in order to keep their dignity, self,

and families alive.

In this debate of immigration, immigrants are considered marginalized. Because I directly

talked and interacted with people who are migrants or whose parents were migrants in

Immokalee, their experience is a valuable insight. One worker Gary told us things from the way

he was harassed in the fields to how he made his way to the parking lots at 4am to hope he could

find work that day to how he sometimes had to sacrifice a couple of days of working because he

had a fever from his direct exposure to pesticides. Despite these conditions, Gary remained

positive and thankful that he had this work to support himself.

When considering the wisdom from scripture, the book of Leviticus provides some great

insight on neighborliness, which can be related to immigration, especially in Immokalee. This

book consists of many speeches of God to Moses, commanding him to repeat certain instructions

regarding how the Israelites should act. One specific command that God gave to Moses and the

Israelites is that When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The

foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for

you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God (Leviticus 19:33-34). When arriving in

Immokalee, it was evident that the population there consisted of immigrants: foreigners from

Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti. I think that in responding to my Aunts negative

response of them being illegal, it is valid for me to agree that, yes, they are considered as

foreigners. But, putting aside all the political debate about immigration, it is impossible to ignore

the fact that these foreigners are not treated as natives. The Coalition of Immokalee Workers

(CIW) informed our group that the conditions of the workers are not regulated like the conditions

of jobs of native-born Americans. Also, we even got to speak with a farmworker named Gary

that informed us of the sexual and physical harassment that happens in the fields. In accordance

with this scripture passage, this kind of behavior towards the immigrants can be considered as

mistreatment, and God commands to not partake in this.

This particular verse also emphasizes the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself,

which is also highlighted in the New Testament by Jesus in all the Gospels. Jesus even proclaims

that, in addition to loving the Lord with all ones heart, it is considered one of the greatest

commandments. According to scripture, immigrants are considered to be our neighbors. In the


parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke, when Jesus tells one of the experts of Law that loving

your neighbor as yourself is one of the keys to inheriting eternal life, the expert asks Jesus the

question, who is my neighbor? Jesus then tells a story of a man whom robbers attacked. Many

people passed this man. The Samaritan was the one person who stopped and showed mercy to

the man who was a stranger. Jesus shows that this true love embodies the fact that even strangers

are to be considered our neighbors. Through the story of road to Emmaus in the Gospel of Luke,

Jesus also shows that by welcoming strangers, we welcome Jesus himself. So, in welcoming,

helping, and supporting migrants, we see the face of Christ. Therefore, because my Aunt sees

these immigrants as foreign strangers, it does not mean that she cannot love them. Loving

them can range from learning about their situation and spreading awareness to helping them

obtain living wages by, for instance, signing the petition regarding Wendys refusal to pay a

penny more per pound of tomatoes.

One last point regarding scriptural wisdom is that scripture teaches that we not only

have an obligation to show compassion for those anawim who have been oppressed and

marginalized in society, but also to stand with them in justice (McCormick 56). Immigrant farm

workers are, therefore, considered anawim. Because, in 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics

data shows that one farm worker dies on the job every day and hundreds more are injured, this

proves that the conditions and the treatment of the workers is oppressive (Wilkes-Edrington).

However, it is also essential to recognize that the many people in the United States living in

poverty or struggling because of unemployment are also considered anawims. In support of my

Aunts specific stance that immigrants are taking Americans jobs, this may be used to argue that

these anawim people in America also need compassion.


In regards to Catholic and Christian tradition, it is important to consider the wisdom from

Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Bishops. The most vital Papal teaching reaffirmed by

many other popes, including even Pope Francis, is included in the first social encyclical, Rerum

Novarum (On the Condition of Labor), written by Pope Leo XIII. He established that persons

have a right to work to survive and to support his or her family (Catholic Social Teaching and

Migration 1). Recognizing this basic right as a part of an individuals human dignity can relate

to the argument that today, migrants have a right to come to America in order to find work or

escape the horrible conditions and, thus, support their family. Immigration laws that restrict

migration make it near to impossible for these individuals to survive and support their family.

But, furthermore, the U.S. Bishops have issued the pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer:

Together on the Journey of Hope, addressing their response to the public policy. One thing it

addresses is that global poverty is rampant and political unrest has resulted in wars and

persecution, so migrants who are forced to leave their homes out of necessity and seek only to

survive and support their families must be given special consideration. Another instrumental

part of the document is that it recognizes that even though the migrants may be illegal, their

human rights and human dignity still needs to be respected. The document also acknowledges

that the Church recognizes the right of the sovereign to protect and control its borders in the

service of the common good of its citizens (Catholic Social Teaching and Migration 3). This

can be utilized in my Aunts favor. However, a counter to this is that the U.S. bishops also note

that social Catholic teaching recognizing the U.S. as a powerful economic nation gives the U.S.

the duty to serve the universal common good. Cardinal Sean OMalley of the Boston

Archdiocese exemplified this duty. In April 2014, he led bishops on a trip to the border of

Mexico and Arizona and celebrated mass. It was through this action that the Cardinal hoped to

portray that immigration is not just a political or social problem, but also a moral problem. When

OMalley and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Tucson Diocese offered Holy Communion through

the fence, providing people in Mexico wafers as a blessing, it proved the Churchs universal

nature and showed their support for the people looking for opportunity (Skoloff).

When responding to the case of my Aunts argument that illegal migrants dont belong

here and should not be working in the United States, there are two polar options for acting. First,

I could prevent a fight at the dinner table by just agreeing with my Aunt and then changing the

subject. However, this would disregard the moral wisdom that involves welcoming the migrant

strangers and showing compassion toward them. Because I have gained such a passion for this

group of people living in injustice and since I feel a duty to love them, not standing up for them

at all would be a failure on my part. Another choice of mine is to very firmly state my position

and risk getting into an argument with my Aunt. This is not ideal, especially because becoming

heated in an argument is not a peaceful way of seeking justice and, therefore, will not solve

anything. Lastly, I could stay true to my values of knowledge and keeping an open-mind and

have a conversation with my Aunt where we both share our views. Also, because I am often

blind to many political aspects of issues and concepts, I think actually listening to my Aunt will

allow me to understand her paradigm and where she is coming from.

In regards to the rights approach, I think that many rights are involved in this case. First,

the immigrants as humans have the right to work and the right to dignity. But, my Aunt also has

the right of free speech. In order to cater toward both of these rights in my response to my Aunt, I

think it is most appropriate to inform my Aunt on the wisdom and my experience with migrant

farm workers, while still keeping an open-mind so that the dinner is not ruined. Looking at the

justice approach, since immigration is a social justice issue, I think I am called to stand up for the
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immigrant farm workers especially because I directly have seen their mistreatment and unequal

treatment in regards to fair wages, fair conditions, and overall treatment.

Looking at the overall common good of the US, again, I feel that supporting immigrants

actually allows for the most positive results for all sides of the issue. Although conditions,

treatment, and pay may not be prime for migrants, allowing immigrants to take these low wage

jobs such as farming still gives them more opportunity than they would have in their home

countries. Allowing the migrants to stay also helps the good of the U.S. society. Although many

believe that these immigrants are taking American jobs, the knowledge I gained in Immokalee

verified that before the farm working jobs are given to migrants, they are offered to American

citizens. Very few Americans take these jobs because they involve long hours, little pay, and

heavy physical labor. In turn, because the majority of the US farmworkers are migrants who are

not citizens and, therefore, cannot do much about their low wages, the cost of produce is kept

low. This low cost is seen as a good to America.

In order to become a better Christian, I think it is necessary for me to stay true to my

ethical framework and, therefore, seek justice and show respect for all people. In order to help

me become a person for others, I need to respect my Aunt AND the immigrants dignity. I need to

respectfully inform my Aunt that these immigrants dignity matters more than their legality. If I

go about this without forcing my opinion on her, I will be able to keep peace and maintain a

healthy relationship with my Aunt, while also standing up and, thus, remaining in solidarity with

the immigrant worker community that has touched my heart. Therefore, supporting my position

in this manner helps me love all my neighbors as myself; my two neighbors being my Aunt and

the immigrant farm workers.

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Work Cited

Camayd-Freixas, Erik. US Immigration Reform and Its Global Impact: Lessons from the Postville

Raid. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Print.

"Catholic Social Teaching and Migration." Justice for Immigrants: 1-3. United States Conference of

Catholic Bishops. Web. <


"Facts and Figures on Florida Farmworkers." (n.d.): 1-3. Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Web.


"The History of Immigration Policies in the U.S." The History of Immigration Policies in the

U.S. Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, 2014. Web.


"Immigration." Cornell University Law School. N.p., n.d. Web.


McCormick, Patrick T., and Russell B. Connors. Facing Ethical Issues: Dimensions of Character,

Choices & Community. New York: Paulist, 2002. Print.

Skoloff, Brian. "Cardinal OMalley Celebrates Mass along Mexico Border - The Boston

Globe." Boston Globe. N.p., 1 Apr. 2014. Web.


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"U.S. Immigration Before 1965." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web.


Wilkes-Edrington, Lindsay. "Farm Worker Conditions Likened to Modern Slavery (VIDEO)." The

Huffington Post. N.p., 1 Feb. 2013. Web. <