American Bishops Urge Immigration Reform

Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Gomez Write to Congress

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 22, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Congressional leaders should “build consensus” toward reform of the nation’s immigration laws, said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, in a letter today.

“Passage of immigration reform is more important now than ever, as state laws and local enforcement initiatives are filling the policy vacuum left by Congress,” the bishops wrote in the letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Minority Leaders of both chambers. “This has created a patchwork of laws and policies throughout the country which has led to discord in our communities.”

“(T)here exists a national consensus that the U.S. immigration system is severely flawed and needs an overhaul,” the letter declared.

Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Gomez also expressed concern over the impact that state and local initiatives are having on immigrant families, which become separated because of these policies.

“Children are often the innocent victims of these policies, which leave them without parents and with less opportunity to live a full and productive life in their home country, the United States.”

The letter also mentioned State laws in places such as Alabama and Arizona that: “have created environments in which immigrants, regardless of their legal status, and law enforcement personnel are pitted against each other, eroding long-held trust between immigrant neighborhoods and local authorities.”

Moreover, the letter continued, “certain provisions of these laws could negatively affect church ministries -- soup kitchens, homeless shelters, hospitals, and parishes -- which provide basic material and spiritual needs to persons who seek help, regardless of their legal status.”

“We, along with other faith-based organizations, should not be required to check a person’s immigration status in order to serve them," the letter declared.

The letter came on the eve of Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico. Around 60% of undocumented immigrants in the United States are of Mexican origin.

The letter also indicated that the USCCB will soon file an amicus brief supporting the “full authority” of the federal government to “enact and implement” laws governing immigration.

Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Gomez encouraged the leaders to address immigration reform as soon as possible, as new state laws will continue to “tear at the social fabric of our nation, until it is torn beyond repair.”

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On the Net:

Full text: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/letter-to-house-on-immigration-2012-march.cfm