WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops greetedwith hope and caution the June 25 Supreme Court decision to strike downprovisions of an Arizona immigration law that would have allowed warrantlessarrests of people suspected of an offense that is deportable, that would havemade it a crime to seek work in the state and that would have made undocumentedpresence a state crime.
Thebishops found hope in the decision in Arizona vs. United States and said it reflectsthe bishops' call for humane and just immigration laws and concern for lawsthat could tear families apart. Their caution lay in the lifting of aninjunction against immigrants having to show papers in some circumstances.
Thebishops had filed a friend of the court brief in the case.
Archbishop José H.Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committeeon Migration, expressed concern regarding the one part of the 5-3 decision thatnarrowly upheld a provision that permits state law enforcement personnel todetermine the immigration status of any person stopped, detained, or arrestedif there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is not lawfully in theUnited States, and to verify the immigration status of any person arrestedbefore releasing that person.
In the opinion,the justices left the door open that the provision that was upheld — known as2(B) of SB 1070 — could later be found unconstitutional.
"While we are concerned with the Court's decision to lift the injunction on section 2 (B) of the law, we are encouraged that the Court didnot rule it constitutional," Archbishop Gomez said. "As we articulated in our amicus brief, theimplementation of this provision could lead to the separation of families andundermine the Church's ability to minister to the immigrant population."
A copy of the brief can be found at http://www.usccb.org/ogc/amicus-briefs/upload/state-of-arizona-v-united-states-of-america.pdf
"We stand insolidarity with our brother bishops in Arizona, as they prepare to respond tothe implementation of this provision and its potential human consequences,"Archbishop Gomez said.
Opponentsof the law have expressed concern that the decision would lead to the racialprofiling of immigrants and the violation of civil rights laws.
ArchbishopGomez highlighted the Court's other provisions.
"TheCourt's decision to strike down the other provisions of the Arizona lawreaffirms the strong role of the federal government in regulating immigration,"said Archbishop Gomez.
ArchbishopGomez urged state governments not to rush to pass laws similar to SB 1070 andcalled upon Congress to assume its responsibility and enact comprehensiveimmigration reform.He vowed that theCatholic Church in the United States would continue to fight for humane andjust reform of the nation's immigration system.
"TheU.S. Catholic bishops across the nation will urge their state governments tonot pursue laws such as in Arizona, but rather to pursue humane reform on thefederal level," Archbishop Gomez said."Humane enforcement of our nation's laws are part of any solution, butenforcement by itself, unjustly administered, only leads to abuses and familybreakdown."
"TheChurch will continue to stand by immigrants and their families and seek justiceon their behalf," stated Archbishop Gomez.
Arizona vs. United States, U.S. Bishop, Archbishop JoseGomez, Committee on Migration, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
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