After a federal judge blocked certain parts of the controversial Arizona immigration law – which is slated to go into effect tomorrow – the Catholic bishops of Arizona lauded the move, saying they “commend” the judge for prohibiting the “more problematic provisions” of the law.
The immigration law, otherwise known as SB 1070, has been a source of contention and debate among citizens across the U.S. because of media reports that the law made it a crime to be in the state illegally and allowed police to arrest and question suspected individuals about their status without a warrant. The law also reportedly criminalized transporting illegal immigrants anywhere in Arizona, even if by family members.
The Associated Press (AP) reported on July 28 that one day before SB 1070 took effect, Federal Judge Susan Bolton blocked the more controversial aspects of the law, such as sections that required officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. The judge also removed mandates that required immigrants to carry their papers at all times and others that made it illegal for undocumented workers to seek employment in public places. Bolton additionally prevented officers without warrants from making arrests of suspected illegal immigrants.
In a statement provided to CNA by Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, the Arizona bishops said that they “commend Judge Susan Bolton for enjoining some of the more problematic provisions of SB 1070,” and “ hope that reaction to her ruling will be expressed only in peaceful and legal ways.”
“The bishops are very pleased with the ruling today,” Johnson told CNA by phone on Wednesday. Now that the laws most “problematic” aspects have been “set aside,” he added, “we will continue to watch how the rest of the bill is implemented and also continue to push for what is ultimately needed, and that's immigration reform on the federal level of a more comprehensive nature.”
Continuing in their joint statement, the Arizona bishops lamented the country's “broken immigration system” and and called for renewed efforts in policy reform.
“The tragic consequences of the failure of our nation’s political leadership to enact reform of our immigration system have included the deaths of thousands of people,” they said. “Migrants – women, men, children in desperate circumstances – have died trying to enter our country.”
“U.S. citizens have died because of crimes committed by drug smugglers, people smugglers and weapons smugglers,” the border state's bishops added. “We pray for those who have died and for their grieving families.”
“And we pray that our senators and representatives will put aside their partisan divisions and go to work immediately to fix the broken immigration system.”