“Dignity & Justice: Welcoming the Stranger at Our Border,” by Linda Dakin-Grimm. Orbis, Maryknoll, N.Y. 2020. 192 pp. ISBN 9781626983816
“Dignity & Justice: Welcoming the Stranger at Our Border,” by Linda Dakin-Grimm. Orbis, Maryknoll, N.Y. 2020. 192 pp. ISBN 9781626983816
Dakin-Grimm, a resident of Los Angeles who grew up Catholic in Portland, delivers a legal and theological double indictment against U.S. immigration policy. She holds a law degree from Harvard and a master’s in theology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Gospel values undergird the book, which follows four immigrant households and the legal, moral and religious principles at play. A teen boy resolutely spurns the violent recruitment of the MS-13 gang in Guatemala, withstanding beatings and death threats. A Mexican child seeks to escape sexual abuse. A Honduran girl struggles to join her relatives in Los Angeles. A Guatemalan family sees a son detained by U.S. authorities.

Dakin-Grimm explains nicely the “both-and” nature of Catholic teaching: We fight for the unborn and the immigrant, even while our political parties pick one or the other. She relies heavily on natural law arguments.

Dakin-Grimm gives insightful historical context, explaining how U.S. fruit companies became masters of Central America, leading to resentment, corruption and tinkering with regimes. She does get wonky, but that is because she offers concrete legal analysis for those who might assist migrants.

Her take on Scripture is well supported, from Exodus to Matthew 25. In the end, it looks like we’ll be judged by God on how we have treated strangers.

In a late chapter, she offers a recipe for immigration reform based on teachings of the U.S. Catholic bishops. Dakin-Grimm, who is endorsed by Portland’s Msgr. Tim Murphy, is giving Zoom talks on her book at parishes.