.- The U.S. Conference of Bishops released a statement today asking President Obama to consider that âmigrants are not responsible for the drug violenceâ on the border. Bishop Wester said that âcriminals, smugglers, corrupt officials and drug and arms dealers on both sidesâ of the border are the cause of violence, not those seeking jobs in the United States.
President Obama who was in Mexico for less than 24 hours, met with Mexican President Felipe CalderÃ³n to discuss the increasing drug and border violence.
Border violence has escalated in the past several months as feuding drug lords have stepped up their attacks. During the last two years, over 10,000 murders have been attributed to drug-related violence.
John C. Wester, the Bishop of Salt Lake City and the chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Migration, said, âImmigration is not simply a domestic issue, but also one of foreign affairs.â
âThe relationship between President Obama and Mexican President CalderÃ³n may hold the key to many problems impacting the United States and Mexico domesticallyâdrug-related violence and the economy, for sure, but also immigration,â he added.
On the topic of the immigration debate, Bishop Wester said that the issue is surrounded by many misperceptions, one of them being that the âpassage of an immigration reform bill by Congress would be 'the magic bullet that slays the dragon of illegal immigration.'â
He emphasized that âwhile such a bill is indispensable to a long-term solution and must be acted uponâsooner rather than laterâit should be understood that the humane and lasting answer to this vexing social issue lies in regional, if not global, cooperation among nation-states.â
âEnforcement is not the only solution to illegal immigration, reform of laws should be included,â Wester said and stressed that both the U.S. and Mexico need to cooperate on the root causes of migration.
Wester also pointed to the irony that migrants play a vital role in turning âcapital into profitâ in most developed countries, but enjoy little âlegal protectionâ and are often âblamed for myriad social ills.â
âAs a result, the United States receives the benefit of their toil and taxes without having to worry about protecting their rights, either in the courtroom or the workplace,â said the bishop. âWhen convenient, they are made political scapegoats and attackedâboth rhetorically and through worksite raids,â he remarked.
Wester said that the Mexican government benefits as well since âup to $20 billionâ flows from workers in the U.S. back to their families in Mexico. The result, he said, is a âgo northâ policy which âexposes Mexican citizens to the ravages of human smugglers, corrupt law enforcement officials, and potential death in the desert.â
The biggest losers of the âglobalization game are the migrantsâ because they have âno political powerâ and cannot âdefend themselves from inevitable abuse and exploitation.â
A humane approach to immigration reform that considers these issues would help reduce violence on the border by creating a legal system that regulates the flow of migrant labor into the United States, Bishop Wester argued.
This solution would allow, according to Wester, a âbetter focus on drug and human smugglersâ who are the real source of violence on the border.
Bishop Wester also cautioned against those who try to send the wrong message about the drug violence at the border.
âMigrants are not responsible for the drug violence on the borderâcriminals, smugglers, corrupt officials, drugs and arms dealers on both sides are. Both presidents should make a clear statement to this regard,â he said.