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Santorum questions US bishops' immigration policy
Former Senator Rick Santorum speaks at CPAC Florida in Orlando. Credit: Gage Skidmore
Former Senator Rick Santorum speaks at CPAC Florida in Orlando. Credit: Gage Skidmore

.- Presidential candidate Rick Santorum signaled his disagreement with the U.S. bishops' recommended immigration reforms, in an interview due to be broadcast on Iowa Public Television Dec. 13.

“If we develop the program like the Catholic bishops suggested we would be creating a huge magnet for people to come in and break the law some more,” said Santorum, a former U.S. senator and current Republican presidential hopeful known for his Catholic faith, according to the Des Moines Register.

“We’d be inviting people to cross this border, come into this country and with the expectation that they will be able to stay here permanently,” Santorum told Register columnist Kathie Obradovich, during a half-hour discussion filmed for the “Conversations with the Candidates” series.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports immigration reform that would offer the possibility of citizenship for qualified immigrants.

In his Jan. 14 letter to members of the 112th Congress, Conference President Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan offered advice on changing “a broken immigration system which harms both immigrants and our entire nation.” 

“Comprehensive reform is needed to deal with the economic and human realities of millions of immigrants in our midst,” the conference president wrote, in a letter outlining the “principles and priorities that guide the public policy efforts of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

Archbishop Dolan said immigration reform should “include a path to earned citizenship.” He stated that it should also support the goal of reuniting families, “the bedrock principle upon which our national immigration system has been based for decades.”

“We realize that reform must be based on respect for and implementation of the law, and for the legitimate and timely question of national security,” the archbishop wrote.

“Equally, however, it must defend the rights and dignity of all peoples, recognizing that human dignity comes from God and does not depend on where people were born or how they came to our nation.”

Santorum, however, believes the suggested path to citizenship would send the wrong message at home and abroad.

“We have to have rules and we have to keep those rules in America, or we would be a magnet for more people who want to break the law,” he said during his interview for Iowa Public Television.

Santorum's grandfather left Italy during Mussolini’s rule in 1925, legally immigrating to the U.S and eventually becoming a citizen. His family, however, could not join him in the country for five years after his arrival.

The candidate warned against any immigration policy that would slight “all the families who are doing it the right way,” along with those “who are separating from their families” and “making those sacrifices.”

“And then we say well, everybody who broke the law came here and we’re going to let you in – and those folks, well, sorry, you’re chumps, you played by the rules,” he said.

The U.S. bishops' migration committee, however, maintains that current law fails to account for the effects of economic globalization and the needs of families.

“The U.S. Catholic Bishops believe that immigrants should come to the United States lawfully,” Migration Chairman Archbishop Jose H. Gomez told a congressional subcommittee in written testimony submitted Feb. 10.

“But we also understand that the current immigration legal framework does not adequately reunify families, and is non-responsive to our country’s need for labor.”


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