USCCB Chair Applauds Passage Of Immigration Reform Bill Out Of Committee; Urges Full Senate To Begin Debate As Soon As Possible
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, today applauded approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, legislation which would reform the nation’s immigration system.
“This is an important step in the legislative process,” he said May 22, the day after the committee vote. “I applaud Chairman Patrick Leahy and the committee members for their efforts and strong bipartisan cooperation,” said Archbishop Gomez. The Senate panel considered over 150 amendments during the process.
Archbishop Gomez said that the bill should be taken up by the full Senate as soon as possible, and that amendments to improve upon the legislation should be adopted. In his remarks, he specifically mentioned the need for improvements to the path to citizenship and the family immigration provisions in the legislation.
“The path to citizenship should be widened, so that the maximum number of persons can access it and come out of the shadows,” he said. “To leave a large population behind would defeat the purpose of the bill, which is to bring persons into the light so they can become full members of our communities.” The USCCB has been working to shorten the amount of time an individual must wait to apply for permanent residency, to move forward the cut-off date for eligibility, and to ease income and work requirements.
Archbishop Gomez also expressed concern over cuts to the family-based immigration system, a hallmark of the nation’s immigration laws for decades.
“We must not abandon our focus on families, which are the backbone of our society,” he said. “Family unity, based on the union of a husband and a wife and their children, must remain the cornerstone of our nation’s immigration system.”
Archbishop Gomez welcomed several amendments added to the legislation helping immigrant children. He also commended the Senators for turning back efforts to strike provisions assisting asylum-seekers and refugees.
It is expected that the full U.S. Senate will consider the legislation in June.
Cardinal Dolan: Suffering of migrants must end
Path to citizenship should be improved and families protected
Enforcement should guarantee basic human rights
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in a press conference April 22 that “now is the time” to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. Cardinal Dolan was joined at the press conference by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the USCCB Communications Committee.
“Let me say that now is the time to address this issue,” Cardinal Dolan said. “As we speak, persons are being deported and an untold number of families are being divided. Human beings continue to die in the American desert. This suffering must end.”
The Catholic Church has much to bring to the national immigration debate, given the Church’s history as an immigrant church, “having welcomed successive waves of immigrants into our parishes, social service programs, hospitals, and schools,” Cardinal Dolan said. “As the pastor of the archdiocese of perhaps the greatest immigrant city in the world, I know first-hand of the many efforts that have been made by the Catholic community on behalf of immigrants.”
He pledged to work with the sponsors of immigration legislation and other elected officials to “achieve the most humane legislation possible.”
In responding to recently introduced immigration reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, Archbishop Gomez said the path to citizenship for the undocumented population in the legislation is welcome, but certain requirements “could leave many behind, remaining in the shadows.” He pointed to the need to shorten the time required to obtain citizenship, to create a more generous cut-off date and to remove barriers for low-income migrants as areas for improvement.
“If the goal [of the legislation] is to solve the problem in a humane manner, then all undocumented persons should be able to participate,” Archbishop Gomez said. He also cited the need to preserve family unity as the cornerstone of the nation’s immigration system.
“This is an important and historic moment for our country and for the Church,” Archbishop Gomez added. “We hope to see the legislation improve and advance, and we will work toward that end. The lives of millions of our fellow human beings depend upon it.”
Bishop Wester said that eligibility for permanent status and citizenship should not be contingent upon enforcement initiatives contained in the legislation. He warned that it could create a de-facto permanent underclass.
Bishop Wester also called for the immigration debate to be conducted in a “civil and respectful” manner. “This is an important and historic moment for our country and for the Church,” Archbishop Gomez concluded. “We hope to see the legislation improve and advance, and we will work toward that end. The lives of millions of our fellow human beings depend upon it.”
Nearly eighty percent of Catholic voters support earned citizenship
Most Catholics support the bishops’ call to respect human rights and dignity
A large majority of Catholics support immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, according to a recent survey sponsored by the Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Overall, 77 percent of Catholic voters support a proposal that allows earned citizenship through meeting requirements like registration, paying a fine, paying taxes and taking English classes, the survey shows.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, embraced the results of the survey. “It is clear that Catholics understand the importance of this issue,” Archbishop Gomez said. “As an immigrant church, Catholics from all walks of life understand the migration experience and accept the Gospel’s call to welcome the stranger.”
Most Catholics support the bishops’ call for the creation of an immigration system that respects basic human rights and dignity while ensuring the integrity of our borders, according to survey results. As immigration reform takes center stage in the public square, this data makes clear that the Catholic population is behind current efforts to reform the broken immigration system.
Archbishop Gomez called upon Catholics to engage their elected officials on behalf of immigration reform. “I encourage Catholics across the nation to contact their legislators in support of humane immigration reform, which would help our brothers and sisters come out of the shadows and become full members of our communities,” he said.
Key findings include:
- Eight-four percent agreed that requiring undocumented immigrants to register with the government as a condition to remain permanently would improve national security.
- Seventy-five percent said that enforcement of laws should be based upon humane values that deports violent criminals but finds ways to work with people who have come to find a better life.
- Sixty-one percent said that immigrants were good for the economy.
- Sixty percent agreed that an enforcement-only policy featuring deportations has a devastating social impact upon family unity.
- Sixty-nine percent agreed that the U.S. can ensure the safety of our border and treat all people humanely, even those who come illegally.
- Sixty-seven percent agreed that the Church has a moral obligation to help those in need, even if they are here illegally.
- Fifty-seven percent stated that they would cross the border in search of work in order to feed their family.
- Sixty percent of Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more rate this issue as extremely or very important to them.
In their 2003 pastoral letter, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined several policy goals for immigration reform, which include:
- A path to citizenship which is achievable and includes the maximum number of persons.
- The protection and enhancement of the family-based immigration system, including the reduction in backlogs and shortening of waiting times for husbands and wives and their children.
- A program which allows low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the United States legally and safely and includes appropriate wage and worker protections.
- The restoration of due process protections for immigrants.
- Policies which address the root causes, or push factors, of irregular migration, such as the absence of living wage jobs in sending communities and persecution.
More information can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org
Bishops’ Migration Chair Welcomes Introduction Of Immigration Proposal; Pledges To Work So Final Bill Upholds Basic Rights, Dignity
|Commends senators for leadership
Sees opportunity to improve on initial efforts
Urges respect for migrants’ human rights, dignity
WASHINGTON—The introduction of U.S. Senate bipartisan legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system was welcomed by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, April 17. Archbishop Gomez also pledged that the U.S. bishops would carefully examine the legislation and work with Congress to ensure that any final measure respects the basic human rights and dignity of migrants.
“I welcome the introduction of legislation today in the U.S. Senate,” Archbishop Gomez said. “The U.S. bishops look forward to carefully examining the legislation and working with Congress to fashion a final bill that respects the basic human rights and dignity of newcomers to our land—migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable populations.”
Archbishop Gomez commended the so-called “Gang of Eight” senators for their leadership on the issue. He also said that once it has completed its review of the voluminous bill, the USCCB may seek improvements upon the proposed legislation, consistent with principles for reform laid out for decades by the bishops’ conference.
“I commend the Senators who have introduced this bipartisan bill, as they have shown leadership and courage in this effort,” he said. “We will look to work constructively with them and other members of Congress to improve upon their proposal, should such improvements prove necessary, so that any final bill creates an immigration system that restores the rule of law in a humane and just manner.”
In their 2003 pastoral letter, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the U.S. bishops outlined several goals for immigration reform, which include:
Archbishop Gomez withheld comment on the specific details of the new legislation until the USCCB has analyzed its provisions.
National Migration Week* reminds Catholics of our responsibility to help immigrants integrate in ways that are respectful, culturally sensitive and responsive to social needs. We also recognize the ongoing need for comprehensive and humane immigration reform at the federal level. “Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity which should be respected. Government policies that respect the basic human rights of the undocumented are necessary.” (Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, 2003, No. 38)
Justice for Immigrants, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ campaign for immigration reform, has launched a postcard campaign that calls on the current Congress to enact a fair and comprehensive solution to our nation’s broken immigration system. You can easily participate in the campaign by sending free, electronic postcards to your U.S. Senators and Representative asking that they pass legislation that provides a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and for low-skilled laborers to work in the U.S., keeps immigrant families together, restores just enforcement policies, and addresses the root causes of migration.
Please click here to visit the Justice for Immigrants website and send your postcards. Do not delay, now is the time for Congress to act on this important issue!
*The observance of National Migration Week (January 6 – 12, 2013) began over a quarter century ago by the U.S. bishops to give Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them. This year’s observance and theme, “We are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues”, commemorate the 10th anniversary of the historic joint pastoral letter of the United States and Mexico bishops conferences, Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.
|We Are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues
Will launch postcard campaign for comprehensive immigration reform
USCCB Committee invites Catholics to support efforts through prayer, action
WASHINGTON—National Migration Week will be observed in dioceses around the country January 6-12. This year’s theme, “We are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues,” includes a postcard campaign that calls for comprehensive immigration reform.
This year’s theme also celebrates the tenth anniversary of the joint pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope, issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano in 2003. In the pastoral letter the bishops reflected on migration between Mexico and the United States as a “sign of the times” that is necessary and beneficial, with promises and challenges.
“Catholics have a responsibility to welcome newcomers into our communities and parishes, help them integrate and provide material and spiritual support that will allow them to flourish,” said Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “National Migration Week is an opportunity for the Church to remember and reflect on these obligations.”
As part of this year’s National Migration Week celebration the USCCB Migration and Refugee Services will launch a postcard campaign that calls on Congress to pass fair and comprehensive immigration reform that would:
Catholics are also urged to support this campaign.
“The Administration and Congress should work together to secure legislation that will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, provide legal means for migrants to enter our nation to work, and reform the system to allow family reunification,” Archbishop Gomez said.
The observance of National Migration Week began over a quarter century ago by the U.S. bishops to give Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them.
The full text of the joint pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope, can be found online at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/strangers-no-longer-together-on-the-journey-of-hope.cfm.
Educational materials and other resources for National Migration Week can be found at: www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week. Posters, prayer cards and booklets can be ordered through the USCCB publishing service at www.usccbpublishing.org or by calling 800-235-8722.
Details on the postcard campaign can be found at: www.justiceforimmigrants.org
U.S. BIshops’ Migration Chairman Urges President Obama And Congress To Enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of USCCB’s Committee on Migration, urged President Barack Obama and the newly elected Congress to work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Archbishop Gomez issued the statement during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fall General Assembly, November 13 in Baltimore.
“I urge the President and Congress to seize the moment and begin the challenging process of fashioning a bipartisan agreement,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Millions of persons remain in the shadows, without legal protection and marginalized from society. As a moral matter, this suffering must end.”
Statement of Archbishop José H. Gomez Archbishop of Los Angeles Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration On Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Archbishop Gomez urged lawmakers to work together on a proposal that upholds the rule of law, preserves family unity, and protects the human rights and dignity of individuals. He also urged fellow Catholics to make their voices heard in support of the issue.
In light of the unprecedented bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform expressed during the last week, I call upon President Obama and congressional leadership to work together to enact bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform in 2013.
I am heartened by the recent public statements of the leaders of both political parties supporting the consideration of comprehensive immigration reform in the new Congress. I urge the President and Congress to seize the moment and begin the challenging process of fashioning a bipartisan agreement.
For decades, the U.S. Catholic bishops have advocated for a just and humane reform of our nation’s immigration system. We have witnessed the family separation, exploitation, and the loss of life caused by the current system. Millions of persons remain in the shadows, without legal protection and marginalized from society. As a moral matter, this suffering must end.
I invite our fellow Catholics and others of good will to make their voices heard in support of this important issue. I encourage our elected officials to work toward the creation of a system which upholds the rule of law, preserves family unity, and protects the human rights and dignity of the person.
See decision as step toward humane immigration reform
Seek federal government’s strong role in immigration
Wary that part of decision might lead toward racial profiling
WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops greeted with hope and caution the June 25 Supreme Court decision to strike down provisions of an Arizona immigration law that would have allowed warrantless arrests of people suspected of an offense that is deportable, that would have made it a crime to seek work in the state and that would have made undocumented presence a state crime.
The bishops found hope in the decision in Arizona vs. United States and said it reflects the bishops’ call for humane and just immigration laws and concern for laws that could tear families apart. Their caution lay in the lifting of an injunction against immigrants having to show papers in some circumstances.
The bishops had filed a friend of the court brief in the case. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, expressed concern regarding the one part of the 5-3 decision that narrowly upheld a provision that permits state law enforcement personnel to determine the immigration status of any person stopped, detained, or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is not lawfully in the United States, and to verify the immigration status of any person arrested before releasing that person.
In the opinion, the justices left the door open that the provision that was upheld — known as 2(B) of SB 1070 — could later be found unconstitutional.
“While we are concerned with the Court’s decision to lift the injunction on section 2 (B) of the law, we are encouraged that the Court did not rule it constitutional,” Archbishop Gomez said. “As we articulated in our amicus brief, the implementation of this provision could lead to the separation of families and undermine the Church’s ability to minister to the immigrant population.”
A copy of the brief can be found at http://www.usccb.org/ogc/amicus-briefs/upload/state-of-arizona-v-united-states-of-america.pdf
“We stand in solidarity with our brother bishops in Arizona, as they prepare to respond to the implementation of this provision and its potential human consequences,” Archbishop Gomez said.
Opponents of the law have expressed concern that the decision would lead to the racial profiling of immigrants and the violation of civil rights laws.
Archbishop Gomez highlighted the Court’s other provisions. “The Court’s decision to strike down the other provisions of the Arizona law reaffirms the strong role of the federal government in regulating immigration,” said Archbishop Gomez.
Archbishop Gomez urged state governments not to rush to pass laws similar to SB 1070 and called upon Congress to assume its responsibility and enact comprehensive immigration reform. He vowed that the Catholic Church in the United States would continue to fight for humane and just reform of the nation’s immigration system.
“The U.S. Catholic bishops across the nation will urge their state governments to not pursue laws such as in Arizona, but rather to pursue humane reform on the federal level,” Archbishop Gomez said. “Humane enforcement of our nation’s laws are part of any solution, but enforcement by itself, unjustly administered, only leads to abuses and family breakdown.”
“The Church will continue to stand by immigrants and their families and seek justice on their behalf,” stated Archbishop Gomez.
Bishops Welcome President’s Deferred Action On Dream Eligible Youth, Urge Congressional Action On Dream Ac
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the action of President Barack Obama today to defer action to all young people eligible under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, saying that it would permit young people who were brought into the United States undocumented to come out of the shadows and more fully participate in society.
“This important action will provide legal protection, and work authorization, to a vulnerable group of immigrants who are deserving of remaining in our country and contributing their talents to our communities,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “These youth are bright, energetic, and eager to pursue their education and reach their full potential.”
As many as 800,000 young people would be eligible to receive a deferred action on deportation for two years, and a work permit.
Archbishop Gomez said the President’s action is no substitute for passage of the DREAM Act and encouraged Congress to enact comprehensive and humane immigration reform.
Full text of Archbishop Gomez’s statement follows:
Statement of Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop of Los Angeles
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration
The Announcement of Deferred Action for DREAM eligible youth
June 15, 2012
On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I welcome the announcement by President Obama today that, consistent with his executive authority, he will grant deferred action on a case-by-case basis to youth who entered the United States by age 15 and have not committed certain offenses. Many of these youth would qualify for immigration relief under the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
This important action will provide protection from removal and work authorization for a vulnerable group of immigrants who deserve to remain in our country and contribute their talents to our communities.
These youth are bright, energetic, and eager to pursue their education and reach their full potential. They did not enter our nation on their own volition, but rather came to the United States with their parents as children, something all of us would do.
We call upon the President also to review Administration deportation policies and more aggressively pursue the policy of prosecutorial discretion for other populations, a policy which was announced last year. Families continue to be deported and separated, causing undue suffering.
The action by the President today is no substitute for enactment of the DREAM Act in Congress. We encourage our elected officials of both parties to take this opportunity to work together to enact this important law, which would give these youth a path to citizenship and a chance to become Americans. We also renew our call for bipartisan efforts to enact comprehensive and humane reform our nation’s broken immigration system
Call or email your Member of Congress and urge them reject any proposals that would exclude immigrant working families from the Child Tax Credit, a vital source of security for many working poor families.
Current Situation: The House Committee on Ways and Means may vote on legislation Wednesday that would exclude immigrant working families from claiming the Child Tax Credit. The tax credit helps millions of working families escape poverty.
USCCB Position/Church Teaching: Our Tradition teaches that all workers have a right to a wage that allows them to raise and support a family in dignity. The Child Tax Credit helps low-wage workers support their children.
Today, Bishop Stephen Blaire, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to the Ways and Means Committee in opposition to proposals that would exclude immigrant working families and their children from the Credit.
Contact Representative Rick Berg Now
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