USCCB Chair Calls Senate Immigration Framework Important First Step, Seeks Bipartisan Cooperation For Just, Humane Legislation

January 29, 2013 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTONArchbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, welcomed principles setforth by a group of eight U.S. Senators as a blueprint for reform of ournation's immigration system.

"Iwelcome the introduction of a bipartisan framework to help guide Congress onimmigration reform," Archbishop Gomez said January 28."It is an important first step in the processand sets a bipartisan tone."

The framework released by the "Groupof Eight" working group would include a path to citizenship for the 11 millionundocumented in the nation. It also would reduce family backlogs in theimmigration system, which requires family members to wait years to reunite withtheir loved ones.

"It is vital that the framework includesa path to citizenship, so that undocumented immigrants can come out of theshadows and into the light and have a chance to become Americans," ArchbishopGomez said. "It gives hope to millions of our fellow human beings."

ArchbishopGomez noted that the framework leaves room for improvement, as it fails torestore due process protections to immigrants lost in the 1996 IllegalImmigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) or address theroot causes of migration, such as the absence of living-wage employment insending communities or protection for refugees fleeing persecution.

Nevertheless,he pledged the support of the USCCB in pushing sound immigration legislationforward and working with Congress to create an immigration system whichrespects basic human rights and dignity while also ensuring the integrity ofour borders.

"Areformed system can protect human dignity and the homeland at the same time,"he concluded.

In their 2003 pastoral letter, "StrangersNo Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope," the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops (USCCB) outlined several policy goals for immigration reform, many ofwhich are consistent with the framework outlined today by the U.S. Senate:

″Apath to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation;

″Theprotection and enhancement of the family-based immigration system, includingthe reduction in backlogs and shortening of waiting times for husbands andwives and their families, ″Aprogram which allows low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in theUnited States legally and safely and includes appropriate wage and workerprotections;

″Therestoration of due process protections for immigrants removed by the 1996Illegal Immigrant Responsibility Act; and

″Policieswhich address the root causes, or push factors, of irregular migration, such asthe absence of living wage jobs in sending communities and persecution.

Moreinformation can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

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Keywords: immigration, U.S. bishops, "Strangers No Longer,"Archbishop José Gomez, Committee on Migration, Justice for Immigrants

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