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Hispanic bishops call on Americans to see Christ in immigrants
By Michelle Bauman
Opponents of Arizona's new immigration enforcement law attend a prayer serivce on April 25, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Opponents of Arizona's new immigration enforcement law attend a prayer serivce on April 25, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images News/Getty Images

.- Hispanic bishops from 33 different U.S. dioceses thanked immigrants for their contributions to society and called on all Americans to welcome newcomers with respect and Christ-like love.

In a Dec. 12 letter, the bishops expressed their solidarity with those immigrants “who lack proper authorization to live and work in our country” and invited them to participate fully in the life of the Church in America.

Among the signatories of the letter are: Archbishop José H. Gómez of Los Angeles, Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, and Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas of Chicago.

They recalled how the Holy Family was forced to flee to Egypt, and reminded immigrants of their “infinite value and dignity” as human beings who are made in the “image of God.”

The bishops also noted the positive efforts made by immigrants to the U.S., such as their economic, cultural and spiritual contributions. They specifically highlighted their manifestation of Christian values, including determination, perseverance and fidelity.
 
The clergymen then touched on the “disdain for immigrants” that some Americans have shown. America is a nation of immigrants, they noted, emphasizing the need for solidarity rather than hatred in dealing with newcomers.

Americans can see “the true face of Jesus Christ” in the suffering of the migrants who must make great sacrifices for their families, working “difficult jobs” and receiving “miserable salaries and no health insurance or social security,” they said.

Furthermore, migrants can show us “Jesus the pilgrim,” they said, recalling Christ’s migration “from heaven to earth,” from Galilee to Jerusalem and “from death to life” as he accomplished the Father’s will.

Immigrants can also serve as a reminder to all Christians that they are “migrants on the way to eternal life,” they added.

The bishops offered assurance that they are continuing to advocate for “just, humane and effective reform of immigration laws” aimed at respecting “family unity” and allowing “an orderly and reasonable process for unauthorized persons to attain citizenship.”

They also committed to working for a worker visa program that respects immigrants’ human rights and provides for their basic needs, as well as working towards “global economic justice” that will give them opportunities to earn a living wage in their own countries.

Those who are considering immigrating should think seriously about whether such a move “is advisable” until such changes have been made to American immigration laws, the bishops said.


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