Comprehensive immigration reform is needed to help bring undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows” and to reunite them with their families, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick told a Senate subcommittee on Thursday.
Addressing the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security on Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the cardinal said the United States requires an immigration system that links legal immigration with the country’s long-term economic needs, with family unity and with basic human rights.
“Now, our immigration system accomplishes none of these goals,” commented Cardinal McCarrick, who is a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.
He added that immigration reform would restore the rule of law and would provide order and legality to “an otherwise chaotic system,” a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.
The cardinal urged that any immigration reform legislation help bring undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows” and give them the opportunity to achieve permanent residency and citizenship. He recommended that family-based immigration be strengthened in order to preserve family unity and that legal avenues be created to help migrant workers enter the country legally and safely.
Cardinal McCarrick also called for legislation that would give immigrants “their day in court” by restoring due process protections he said were removed in 1996. In addition, he encouraged international cooperation that would address the “root causes of migration” and help immigrants and their families remain in their home countries to “support their families in dignity.”
Though immigration has economic, social and legal aspects, the cardinal explained that from the perspective of Catholic teaching immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue.
“In our view, our immigration laws ultimately must be judged by how they impact the basic dignity and God-given human rights of the human person.”
He exhorted the Senators to keep the discourse “civil” and to refrain from both de-humanizing immigrants and “scapegoating” them for unrelated economic or social challenges.
Cardinal McCarrick pledged the Catholic Church’s assistance for the legislators who “lead the nation toward a humane and just immigration system which both restores the rule of law and respects the inherent human dignity of the person.”