The U.S. bishops are wary of President Bush’s reported proposal to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border and are calling for reform of U.S. immigration laws. Their position was outlined in a May 15 statement by Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, California, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Migration.
Bishop Barnes, Bishop of San Bernardino and Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration issued the statement just hours before President Bush was to address the nation on immigration.
Bishop Barnes welcomed the presidential address to the nation on the need to reform our immigration system. It is important that the president highlight this issue to the American people as one of urgent national priority.
“The Catholic Church supports the right of a sovereign nation to control its border. As we have stated in the past, however, an enforcement-only approach to this crisis will not solve the problem of illegal immigration.”, he declared.
He pointed out to “a woefully antiquated and ill suited” immigration system. “Consequently-he adds- during the same period that border enforcement has grown, the number of undocumented in our nation has doubled and the number of deaths of migrants in the desert has risen sharply.”.
Nonetheless , he was skeptical about the use of troops to secure the border, “I am concerned about the introduction of military personnel because there has not been an adequate public discussion about its implications, especially for the treatment of migrants.”
He then underscored the approach of the American Bishops, a vision that “must include a long-term strategy to address the root causes of flight, such as combating poverty in sending countries.”
Bishop Barnes concluded his statement by affirming that “as a nation of immigrants, we must look back at our history and recognize that America was founded and built by immigrants.”