One student asked what he could do to advocate for the rights of immigrant workers.
However, several other students seemed skeptical.
One young woman asked the cardinal what good would come from immigrants coming to America for employment if college graduates are having trouble finding jobs these days.
Another student asked why people would want immigrants to take “our jobs” with the nation's unemployment still high.
Mahony told them that many immigrants take low-skill, low-paying jobs that American citizens won't typically do such as digging ditches for construction projects or cleaning hotel rooms.
Another student said immigrants performing low paying jobs would most likely qualify for entitlement programs. He asked Mahony how immigrants in these circumstances would add value to the American way of life. His comments were met with applause from many students in the audience.
Mahony said undocumented immigrants cannot obtain a social security card and are paid in cash so they can't pay payroll taxes. He said they do pay other taxes such as sales taxes in the communities where they live.
After the presentation, Aimee Phillips, the school's chaplain, said the students are at an age where they need to decide upon these issues for themselves.
“I know it probably ruffled a few feathers but our faith isn't about being comfortable,” she said of some students' cynicism about Mahony's remarks.
Meanwhile, Mahoney said he was impressed with a recent senior class project that connected McGuinness students to The Sanctuary women's development center in south Oklahoma City. Seniors at the school performed landscaping and other beautification projects at the center, 2133 SW 11, a day center for homeless women. The students also held a carnival for the women and their children and raised more than $5,500 for the center through various fundraising efforts.