In a telephone press conference on Wednesday, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City called for “a humane and comprehensive solution to the problems which beset our immigration system” and expressed a desire for Congress “to address the issue.”
The press event, held in honor of National Migration Week, was chaired by Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee, who both outlined plans by the Catholic Church to work to enact comprehensive immigration reform in 2010.
Bishop Wester discussed the bishops’ position on immigration reform, and cited some of the new initiatives being taken such as a nationwide postcard campaign, the launch of a new website (www.justiceforimmigrants.org) and a call for Congress to enact immigration reform.
Bishop Hubbard spoke about the root causes of migration and how the United States and other nations should address factors that drive immigrants to come to the United States.
“The first principle of the U.S. bishops with regard to immigration is that migrants have the right not to migrate,” explained Bishop Hubbard. “In other words, to be able to find work in their own home countries so they can support their families in dignity.”
“Migration should be driven by choice, not necessity.”
Given that immigration issues often spark controversy, CNA asked USCCB Director of Migration Kevin Appleby if there has been any opposition to this initiative within the Catholic community.
“You are always going to have folks who disagree,” Appleby said. “(Immigration) has become such a demonized issue in some quarters and there is such a divide. It's such an emotional issue that the facts sort of are sacrificed by the emotion.”
However, “what we are pushing is not that radical,” Appleby stated. “It's very to the point and will solve the problem.”
1.5 million postcards for the Justice for Immigrants campaign have already been ordered by dioceses around the nation and parishioners are being encouraged to fill them out and send them to state legislators.
Press conference participant Sister Rita Mary Harwood, a Sister of Notre Dame and the Secretary for Parish Life and Development in the Diocese of Cleveland, stated on Wednesday that “in the end, to stand with those who are frightened, alone or in danger; to educate, to speak with and for, and to pray – this is the message of the Gospel and the work of the Church.”