.- U.S. immigration laws are âimmoral and unjustâ and should be reformed to create a âpath to citizenship,â Bishop of Orlando Thomas Wenski has said. Comparing illegal entry into the U.S. to a misdemeanor like jaywalking, he noted that participants in the Boston Tea Party were also lawbreakers.
Weeks before his appointment to become Archbishop-designate of Miami, Bishop Wenski spoke to the Diocese of Orlandoâs Pastoral Council on March 27. He said that immigration laws are âimmoral and unjustâ because they are âantiquatedâ and âinadequateâ for present realities, according to the Florida Catholic newspaper.
âWhen we look at illegal entry into the U.S. from a Catholic perspective, we understand that it doesnât carry a moral judgment on that person,â the bishop commented, comparing the situation to Jim Crow laws which barred blacks from drinking out of white drinking fountains.
âIt is not a felony to be in this country illegally â itâs a misdemeanor, which is what you do when you jaywalk or speed. You donât become a criminal because you have a lead foot or donât use the crosswalk,â he explained.
Adding that the U.S. bishops are not necessarily advocating amnesty, he said they advocate âa path to citizenship.â
âSo if people didnât follow the proper procedures in coming into this country, then just as with jaywalking, you get a fine,â he commented.
Comprehensive reform would allow employers a legal method of bringing workers to the country.
âFirst, letâs give a path to legality for those who are here. Next, letâs support the reunification of families,â he added, noting the ten-year waiting period for bringing families into the country.
He pointed out that the âpatriotsâ of the Boston Tea Party were law breakers, as was civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. If these people can be honored, he argued, then the situation of illegal immigrants can be resolved and they can integrate into American society.
Noting that social justice is part of the Catholic faith, he added that Catholics cannot pray âThy will be doneâ without committing themselves to social justice.