Los Angeles, Calif., Feb 21, 2014 / 12:58 pm
L.A. Archbishop José H. Gomez has called for "interim measures" such as a moratorium on immigration raids and help for undocumented minors in order to bypass immigration reform's apparent "political dead end."
"These two proposals are no substitute for true immigration reform - but they would make a big difference in the lives of millions of our neighbors," Archbishop Gomez said in his Nov. 21 column for the Los Angeles archdiocese's newspaper The Tidings.
He voiced disappointment in the House of Representatives' recent decision not to move forward with immigration reform proposals at the current time.
Saying the interim measures would help "ease suffering," the archbishop called on Congress to approve a moratorium on deportations and immigration raids and arrests, except for violent criminals.
"Since 2008, our government has deported nearly two million people and nearly a half million more are locked up in immigration detention centers," he said, emphasizing that these are "real people."
"One in every four persons who is being arrested or deported is being ripped out of their homes - taken away from their children, their wives and husbands, all their relatives," the archbishop said.
He added that two-thirds of the 11 million undocumented immigrants have been living in the U.S. for at least a decade.
"The vast majority pose no criminal danger to our community. Just the opposite," he said. "They are going to church and working alongside us, paying taxes, making our country and our communities stronger."
Archbishop Gomez said the U.S. should also help the "dreamers," children born in a foreign country but brought to the U.S. by their immigrant parents when they were young. Their name comes from the proposed federal DREAM Act, which would regularize their status.
"It's cruel, and it serves no purpose, to keep denying these kids any legal status," he said. "They've been here their whole lives. It's time we welcome them as citizens and give them the opportunities they need to help our country grow."
He said a just society "cannot punish innocent children for the crimes of their parents."
The archbishop emphasized that these proposals are not a substitute for "true immigration reform" but would make a "big difference in the lives of millions of our neighbors."
True reform, he said, would provide "a generous path to citizenship" for the undocumented.
"A just and compassionate society can't allow an underclass of people to keep growing at the margins of our society, living in constant fear of arrest, without rights or reasons to hope," he said, urging continued prayers for the United States and its leaders.
He concluded by encouraging Catholics to ask the Virgin Mary to "give us the courage to always do what is right and just."