Friday, October 9, 2009

Catholics Call for Immigration Reform

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, testified this week in Congress before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The hearing sought faith-based perspectives on immigration reform.

“Our nation requires an immigration system that marries legal immigration with our long-term economic needs, the principle of family unity, and basic human rights. This will help restore the rule of law to our immigration system. Now, our immigration system accomplishes none of these goals,” said Cardinal McCarrick.

The cardinal also addressed concerns regarding the rule of law and how it applies to immigration. “In truth, the church position in favor of reform seeks to restore the rule of law and provide order and legality to an otherwise chaotic system,” said Cardinal McCarrick, a consultant to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration.

Cardinal McCarrick outlined the key elements the U.S. bishops believe should be addressed in any immigration reform legislation.

  • Bring the undocumented population in this country out of the shadows and give them a chance, over time, to achieve permanent residency and citizenship.
  • Preserve family unity by strengthening family-based immigration.
  • Create legal avenues for migration, so that migrant workers, who labor in many important industries in our nation, are able to enter the country legally and in a safe and orderly fashion.
  • Give immigrants their day in court by restoring due process protections removed in 1996 legislation.
  • Work with neighboring countries and the international community to address the root causes of migration, so that immigrants and their families ultimately can remain in their home countries and support their families in dignity.
While recognizing that immigration has economic, social, and legal aspects which must be addressed in any reform legislation, Cardinal McCarrick expressed that, from the perspective of Catholic teaching, immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue.

“In our view, our immigration laws ultimately must be judged by how they impact the basic dignity and God-given human rights of the human person,” Cardinal McCarrick said.

The cardinal also urged Senators keep the discourse “civil” and to refrain from “labeling and de-humanizing our brothers and sisters” nor “scapegoat them for unrelated economic or social challenges we face.”

Cardinal McCarrick also said the Catholic Church stands ready to assist the legislators as they “lead the nation toward a humane and just immigration system which both restores the rule of law and respects the inherent human dignity of the person.”

Photo: Cardinal McCarrick celebrates closing Mass at conference on Hispanic ministry, Notre Dame

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