More and more people are calling for the now long awaited decision regarding immigration reform. Advocates, politicians, and now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are requesting a ruling to be made on the issue of immigration reform. With little time left in the legislative session, this plea comes not a moment too soon. For states like Arizona in particular, the need for an answer on immigration reform is needed now more than ever.
Last week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan reached out to Speaker John Boehner asking for swift action by the House in regards to immigration reform. In the letter to Boehner, the archbishop called this issue “a matter of great moral urgency.” As president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he makes this statement on behalf of the cardinals and bishops throughout the nation.
The archbishop seemed to primarily call upon the ethical issues related to immigration in order to make his argument. He surmises that undocumented immigrants are not able to reap the benefits of other citizens. This concern includes issues related to citizenship and family reunification, along with basic due process matters.
A representative for Speaker Boehner responded by saying that he endorses“common sense, step-by-step reforms” to fix a broken immigration system.
Meanwhile, House Republicans seem leery about backing a reform bill which calls for billions of dollars to be spent on increased border security, more resources allocated towards bringing additional workers into the country, and a comprehensive plan for those living here illegally to now have a defined pathway to citizenship.
This public statement by the New York archbishop comes not too long after Minneapolis/St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt made a similar request to end the immigration reform battle. In September, the archbishop encouraged the House to comply with President Obama's new immigration policies.
Add to that, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez recently spoke at the National Media Conference in June and used his time as keynote speaker to address and push for immigration reform. Mexican-born Gomez eloquently used his own personal immigration experience as a way to bring this political hot-button issue to a more personal level.
Also, he noted that the Catholic church has many Mexican and Latin American parishioners and the Church must do everything in its power to support and encourage this legislation.
These religious leaders have a point. We've all heard it before: this nation was built by immigrants. What is America if it's not a land of opportunity for all, rather than just the chosen few?
This reform will impact more than just the undocumented immigrants living and working in America, it will have an effect on all citizens in the country. In some states, that is a vast understatement. We in Arizona have friends, neighbors, and co-workers who are living in this country illegally, but have always called it home. It comes down to a civil rights issue. Shouldn't all people that live and work in the U.S. be afforded all the benefits and privileges that come along with it?
The debate continues and immigration reform has yet to be passed. While the country awaits a decision, we in Arizona are afforded the opportunity to continue the conversation and therefore continue to debate what this country really stands for.