.- Cardinal Francis George, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), speaking at the conference’s annual spring meeting, called on President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to enact “comprehensive” immigration reform.
“It has been clear for years that the United States immigration system requires repair and that reform legislation should not be delayed,” Cardinal George said, speaking on behalf of the bishops.
Stating that the bishops urge “respect and observance of all just laws,” he added that they do not “approve or encourage” illegal entry into the United States.
“From a humanitarian perspective,” he said, “our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members and drive them into remote parts of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths. This suffering should not continue.”
Cardinal George said society should stop tolerating a status quo that perpetuates a “permanent underclass” and benefits from its members’ labor “without offering them legal protections.”
“As a moral matter, we must resolve the legal status of those who are here without proper documentation so that they can fully contribute their talents to our nation’s economic, social and spiritual well being.
“Only through comprehensive reform can we restore the rule of law to our nation’s immigration system.”
He encouraged the U.S. president and congressional leaders to draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation with the goal of enacting it by the end of 2009.
“The Catholic bishops of our country stand ready to assist in this effort,” he pledged.