.- President George W. Bush and Congress must “work together to produce a fair and just comprehensive immigration reform bill,” said Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.
In a statement released yesterday, Bishop Barnes said, “Just legislation should include a viable path to citizenship for undocumented persons residing in our nation; a temporary worker program which protects the rights of both U.S. and foreign-born laborers; reforms in the family-based immigration system by reducing backlogs and shortening times for family reunification; and restoration of due process protection for immigrants.” The bishop issued the letter on behalf of the U.S. bishops.
While the bishops support immigration enforcement, it “should not undermine the fairness of our laws and should ensure that the human dignity of the person is protected,” wrote Barnes. “We will oppose enforcement initiatives which do not meet this test.”
The bishops believe “immigration is a moral issue because it impacts the human dignity and human rights of the person.” It is therefore, “an issue which should supersede political concerns,” the bishops stated, urging legislators to move beyond partisan politics and work toward a solution.
The bishops said they favored the immigration legislation that was passed in May over the legislation that was passed in December 2005, which was “overly punitive.”
The May bill is “a more comprehensive piece of legislation, which, while imperfect, contains the structure and many of the elements necessary to address our immigration crisis,” said Bishop Barnes.