"Build trust with our immigrant communities by establishing a clear division of duties between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents so that immigrants feel safe reporting crimes and cooperating in police investigations," they advised.
In addition, consequences for violating the law should be clearly defined, said the bishops, to ensure that the laws are equally applied to everyone. Pointing to Fourth Amendment protections, they decried searches of individuals or homes without probable cause, and arrests superseding the normal procedures.
Additionally, the bishops asked for priority to be given to working families who are taking care of children and protection to be given to community programs, so as not to hinder migrants from congregating at churches, schools, and other community gatherings.
Beyond the realms of legislation and politics, the bishops encouraged the people of Maryland to participate in dialogue while respecting different opinions. This, they said, will allow people to "learn firsthand about their hopes and dreams, fears and sorrows," as well as the root causes of immigration.
Relationships should be built between citizens and immigrants, but the bishops also stressed the need for reconciliation between opposing opinions, an already "passionate debate" raising controversy at state and national levels.
A personal relationship between opposite sides in the debate will not only create a greater understanding, but will also enable honest interaction in the political arena, the bishops said. They encouraged Catholics to communicate opinions to elected officials instead of shying away from confrontation or dominating debates with emotionally charged opinions.