.- The U.S. Senate’s introduction of a proposed framework on immigration reform is “an important first step” towards a comprehensive measure, the U.S. bishops have said. They urged bipartisan legislation which “affirms the rule of law and basic human rights,” but also said they “strongly oppose” the idea of extending “marriage-like” immigration benefits to same-sex relationships.
The framework, developed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), has been endorsed by the Senate leadership, a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.
Bishop of Salt Lake City John C. Wester, chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, spoke on behalf of the bishops with a Thursday statement endorsing the effort.
He explained that the bishops support the “general direction” of the framework, including a legalization of the undocumented and improvements to the United States’ employment and family-based immigration systems.
However, he said the bishops “strongly oppose” the proposal to extend “marriage-like” immigration benefits to same-sex relationships. The proposal threatens to undermine the chance to create a “common solution” to immigration reform.
The bishop also voiced concerns about the increases in law enforcement resources. He claimed that the U.S. has poured “billions of dollars” into immigration enforcement over recent years, arguing that this has not solved the problem but has led to the abuse of immigrants in some cases.
Bishop Wester pledged support for the inclusion of provisions that address the factors that compel migrants to come to the United States, such as a lack of economic development. This would help prospective migrants “remain in their countries and support their families in dignity.”
“We call for a robust but civil debate. This issue can no longer wait and should not be politicized or held hostage to ideology. Our immigration system is badly broken and is in need of immediate repair,” his statement concluded.