|Breaking Open the Word|
|Planning for Retirement|
|World & Nation|
September 17, 2008
The missing issue—immigration reform
Little more than a year ago, immigration reform drove a ferocious debate throughout the country. But in 2008, candidates know that if they seem too tough on immigration, they’ll lose the vital Latino vote. If they seem too soft, they’ll anger many non-Latinos worried about their jobs, national security and the solvency of their public institutions. A kind of unstated truce has settled in, with many candidates and public officials offering generic concern about the immigration issue, but few actually doing anything until after the election.
Meanwhile, with a president whose approval ratings are low and an even less popular Congress, the inadequacies of our current system continue to fester.
As I’ve stressed many times in the past, the Catholic Church respects and obeys our immigration authorities and discourages anyone from violating our laws. Every nation has a right to control its borders, regulate immigration and ensure the security of its citizens. It’s also true, however, that most undocumented immigrants in the United States are here filling jobs that Americans don’t want but upon which our economy depends. They live peaceful and productive lives, and many have children who are now American citizens. They deserve to be treated with the respect commensurate to their human dignity.
On Sept. 10, on behalf of the U.S. bishops, Bishop John C. Wester, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, called on the Department of Homeland Security and President George W. Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool. His statement reads in part:
While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented. In this regard, we ask DHS to immediately pledge to take the following actions to mitigate the human costs of these raids:
• DHS should refrain from enforcement activity in certain areas that provide humanitarian relief—churches, hospitals, community health centers, schools, food banks, and other community-based organizations that provide charitable services.
Absent the effective and immediate implementation of these safeguards, we believe that these enforcement raids should be abandoned.
Immigration enforcement raids demonstrate politically the ability of the government to enforce the law. They do little, however, to solve the broader challenge of illegal immigration. They also reveal, sadly, the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system, which, as we have consistently stated, requires comprehensive reform.
Here in Colorado, we have direct and very painful experience of these enforcement raids. Whoever takes power in Washington this November needs to face the fact of a broken immigration system and the intense frustration and family suffering it continues to cause.
We need comprehensive immigration reform. But until that happens, we can at least end the use of worksite enforcement raids and the human turmoil they create.
Biography, Homilies, Writings and Discourses... More