Neither Slave Nor Free: A Critique of U.S. Immigration Policy in Light of the Work of David Hollenbach, Gustavo Gutierrez, and Thomas Aquinas

Doctoral Dissertation


In the dissertation I argue that the United States has always been selective in determining where immigrants may come from and under what conditions, including undocumented status, to create a category of persons who are neither slave nor free. First, I show that American legislatures have developed this ability by setting immigration preferences throughout the nation’s history to forge mixed settlements between multiple political, economic, and cultural interests with regard to immigration. I then draw preference systems from the Christian tradition-David Hollenbach’s priority principles, Gustavo Gutierrez’s preferential option for the poor, and Thomas Aquinas’ order of charity-to argue that current U.S. immigration preferences are not simply wrong, but backwards. These preference systems, I conclude, offer moral grounds for prioritizing the legalization of undocumented immigrants. They also suggest that meaningful immigration reform requires no less than ending America’s dependence on immigrant workers who are neither slave nor free.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-10142014-213058

Author Victor Carmona
Advisor Todd D. Whitmore
Contributor Gustavo Gutierrez, Committee Member
Contributor Daniel G. Groody, Committee Member
Contributor Maura A. Ryan, Committee Member
Contributor Todd D. Whitmore, Committee Chair
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Theology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2014-08-29

Submission Date 2014-10-14
  • United States of America

  • Christian immigration ethics

  • scholasticism

  • immigration debate

  • Mexican immigration

  • mixed status families

  • Filipino immigration

  • preferential option for the poor

  • immigration preferences

  • indentured servitude

  • immigration theology

  • mixed status

  • Catholic social doctrine

  • theology of immigration

  • immigration reform

  • undocumented immigrants

  • liberation theology

  • human trafficking

  • German immigration

  • immigration

  • immigration ethics

  • order of charity

  • Mexican immigrants

  • priority principles

  • immigrant labor

  • preference systems

  • permanent residency

  • indentured workers

  • immigrant workers

  • Chinese immigrants

  • undocumented immigration

  • migrant smuggling

  • immigration history

  • Christian social thought

  • visa distribution

  • Chinese immigration

  • visas

  • immigration policy

  • green cards

  • Filipino immigrants

  • German immigrants

  • theology of migration

  • Catholic social teaching

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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