Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio is calling on citizens, legislators and policymakers to muster the courage to create new immigration policy now.
“The issue is urgent. It won't go away, no matter how much politicians would like it to,” he said, referring to the recent defeat in the Senate of the latest attempt at immigration reform.
“Reform can't wait another political cycle,” he wrote in a comment published in the June 12 issue of the San Antonio Express News. “The lives of millions of undocumented workers and their families hang in the balance. So does our national security and economic well-being.”
The archbishop underlined that the debate requires citizens to acknowledge two facts: millions of immigrants live in the U.S., and these immigrants are needed here. He said the debate is being impacted by fear and a loss of the sense that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants.
He said research shows that immigrants are hardworking, responsible people who make substantial contributions to the national economy.
“It only makes sense to offer them a path to full participation in American society,” he argued. “We should help them become taxpaying citizens with ordinary workers' benefits. Such measures would strengthen our borders, enhance our economy and reduce the strains on our health and social services systems.”
The archbishop also noted that immigrants are largely religious, reflect a deep respect for human life, have a strong work ethic and are loyal to their new country.
“It also makes economic sense to find a way to reunite immigrants with their loved ones,” he said. “The children of immigrants are always far more successful economically than their parents. Promoting strong immigrant families can only increase America's future prosperity,” he concluded.