Baltimore, Md., Nov 14, 2014 / 03:49 am
In the wake of the mid-term elections last week, the U.S. Bishops urged Congress and President Obama to work together on timely immigration reform that respects families and human dignity.
"We urge both parties to work together to finally reform this broken and immoral system," said Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle, addressing his brother bishops at their annual fall meeting in Baltimore on Nov 11.
He spoke about the need to address the "human tragedies" caused by the current immigration system. The bishops are not trying to "pick political sides," he explained, but they have long worked in support of "humane immigration reform."
The emergence of a Republican Senate after last week's elections has raised serious doubts about any passage of comprehensive immigration reform in the next Congressional term, with many Republicans saying they want the border secured first before other actions are taken, such as a potential path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
President Obama, for his part, is "looking forward to taking executive action on his own" on immigration, according to White House press secretary Josh Earnest. Republicans in Congress have warned against him doing so, saying it would damage his relationship with incoming GOP lawmakers.
Bishop Elizondo, who heads the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Migration, acknowledged his approval of potential executive action "to protect certain individuals from deportation, especially to stop the separation of immigrant families." However, he emphasized that ultimately the "broken and immoral" immigration system can only be reformed by the joint action of Congress and the President.
"Only Congress working with the executive branch can achieve that," he insisted, and pledged the support of the bishops "to help facilitate that process in the months ahead."
"I think it is an urgent matter for the country so I hope that they take it soon, the sooner the better," Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles told CNA.
Archbishop Gomez made it clear that any pro-life platform must include respect for the dignity of the immigrant.
Asked whether immigration is connected to the pro-life position, he explained, "Obviously the Church is very concerned about the culture of life. But life from conception until natural death. So all those issues are part of the dignity of the human person. So I think that's obviously a connection, in the sense that we care about every single person."
Overall, the two bishops made clear that their main objectives are keeping families united and protecting the dignity of all immigrants.
"I think the basic principles we would like to see are a path to citizenship, unity of families, and also ending deportation," stated Archbishop Gomez. He also noted the need to better understand "the movements of people in a global world."
"Families are torn apart by enforcement actions," Bishop Elizondo said. He stressed the goals of working to "promote family unity" and "provide immigrants and their families legal protection."