Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Catholic Bishops of Louisiana Comment on Immigration

I came across these documents over at Opinionated Catholic and I figured it would not hurt to continue their publicity. The Bishops of Louisiana addressed the Louisiana State legislature on Immigration Reform and the Church’s view on Immigration. These documents have great informative power to help understand the complexity of the Church’s stance and aides in Catholics having a properly formed conscience in these matters.


We, the Catholic Bishops of Louisiana, wish to address the issue of immigration reform in light of certain bills that have been proposed in the Louisiana Legislature's 2008 Regular Session.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s desire."

The Catholic Church has a rich history of involvement in the immigration issue. This has taken the form of both assisting with assimilation of many immigrants and refugees as well as advocacy. This experience, backed by the true belief that all individuals possess inherent human dignity and worth, compels us to speak out on the issue of immigration reform. This is indeed a moral issue which directly affects and impacts the rights, well being, and life of human beings. The alien has always been a protected figure, as the Old Testament proclaims: "So, you, too, must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens yourselves" (Deut. 10:17-19). Jesus speaks of the migrant as one who is on the margins of society and instructs those who come in contact with the migrant to remember his words: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Mt. 25:35).

The Church recognizes the responsibility of a government to develop policies and procedures to protect its citizenship from dangerous persons and to regulate the flow of immigration. The Catholic Church supports an earned path to citizenship as an integral part of comprehensive immigration reform. We do not support legislation that takes the form of enforcement-only policies which neither uphold the dignity of each individual nor address the inadequacies of our immigration policies. We need to be realistic about our need for workers and the need to have adequate protection of their safety and rights.

We urge Governor Jindal and the Louisiana Legislature to reject any immigration legislation that is enforcement-only. We are convinced that this issue can best be resolved on the federal level. Hence, we ask both the governor and the legislature to encourage the federal government to address the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Comprehensive immigration reform includes: (1) an earned legalization program; (2) a worker program that protects foreign-born
workers and safeguards against the displacement of U.S. workers; (3) family-based reform that reduces waiting times for family reunification and bears in mind the devastating effects of separation on a family; (4) restoration of due process protections for immigrants; and (5) policies that address the root causes of migration. We oppose any attempts at state legislation that focus on enforcement-only policies. True immigration reform should ensure that the dignity and inherent rights of each individual are upheld, and that the common good is achieved.

Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops
April 2008


* The Catholic Church believes that ALL immigrants have inherent dignity and worth as human beings regardless of immigration status.

Catholics denounce anti-immigration bigotry, stereotypes, and xenophobia as immoral and un-American

* The Catholic Church is NOT anti-enforcement and does NOT support “open borders.”

The Catholic Church does believe that enforcement-only policies that focus on closing the borders and deportation, without reforming the immigration system, would cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars and have a devastating impact on vast sectors of the US economy.

Therefore, the Catholic Church believes that enforcement of immigration policies should be:

1. Targeted – US enforcement resources should be focused to ensure that those who are dangerous or more easily identified and apprehended. Enforcement policies should be tailored and nor overly broad so that the basic rights of all immigrants are not abridged. Ethnic or racial profiling should be avoided. Improvements in intelligence and information sharing and technological improvements in border security would help ensure that those who are most dangerous – smugglers, human traffickers, and terrorists – are intercepted.

2. Proportional – Enforcement of immigration laws should not feature unnecessary force. Immigration control officers and border patrol agents should receive intensive training on appropriate enforcement tactics and the appropriate use of force. Border enforcement policies should not drive immigrants into more remote regions of the desert, risking their lives. State and local law enforcement should not be authorized to enforce immigration laws.

3. Humane – The human rights and dignity of the person should be preserved and respected to the greatest extent possible. Families should not be divided and should receive special consideration. Undocumented immigrants should not be detained for lengthy periods of time or intermingled with violent offenders. Asylum-seekers should receive appropriate screening by a qualified adjudicator. Children should be accommodated within a child welfare context.

* The Catholic Church advocates for comprehensive immigration reform.

A comprehensive immigration reform plan would include:

1. An earned legalization program – allows undocumented workers to earn permanent residency.

2. Worker program – protects foreign-born workers and safeguards against displacement of US workers.

3. Family-based immigration reform – reduces waiting times for family reunification.

4. Restoration of due process protections for immigrants and policies addressing root causes of migration.

* The Catholic Church supports an earned path to citizenship, NOT a handout.

This includes:

1. Undocumented immigrants to pay a fine and application fee.

2. Go through criminal background checks and security screenings.

3. Demonstrate that they have paid taxes.

4. Are learning English.

5. Obtain a visa that could lead to permanent residency.

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