.- Reacting to approval in the US Senate of an immigration bill that would allow nine million undocumented aliens to obtain legal status, the secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Sergio Aguiar Retes, said the construction of a wall on the US/Mexican border should be considered a “lesser evil.”
“This is something that can be accepted as a lesser evil, nobody in Mexico is in favor of it, from the President on down to the last citizen, but if they will now let us enter legally, the building of their wall is the lesser of evils,” he stated.
The bishop said the immigration bill is an important step that would make a full agreement more likely. He said the building of a wall on the border was an internal political strategy in the United States. “It’s like saying to a sector of society that feels it is under assault by immigration: Yes, we hear you, and we are going to build this wall that isn’t necessary and doesn’t guarantee a thing, just to keep you happy.”
Bishop Aguiar Retes said the Senate reform would “benefit millions of people and many others who would be able to legally immigrate with all of their rights.” Despite all this, he maintained, this does not amount to an immigration agreement allowing for free transit in a given region, in the same way as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
He questioned the nature of the immigrant relationship between the United States, Canada and Mexico-all partners in NAFTA-and said a level of integration similar to that of the European Union was necessary between the three countries. “The flow of illegals is going to diminish thanks to this bill and everyone is going to seek out the legal path. But the reality is, Mexican immigration to the United States had to be like that because there was no other way,” he said.
“Now, with the possibility of temporary worker visas, I suppose Mexicans will apply each year to obtain those permits, but with a different expectation. Nobody likes to risk his life if it is not absolutely necessary,” the bishop stated.
“As the US bishops have said, there is not a single diocese in that country that does not have any Mexicans, and they are Catholics. They belong to the faithful whose needs must be met. There are many reasons for there to be continuous good relations,” he noted.
The US Senate approved an immigration reform bill several days ago that would allow nine of the estimated twelve million illegal aliens to gain legal status if they can prove they have been working for four years, and it would authorize the issuance of another 200,000 temporary visas. The Senate bill must now be reconciled with the House bill in conference committee.