The introduction of U.S. Senate bipartisan legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system was welcomed by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, April 17.
Archbishop Gomez also pledged that the U.S. bishops would carefully examine the legislation and work with Congress to ensure that any final measure respects the basic human rights and dignity of migrants.
Archbishop Gomez commended the so-called “Gang of Eight” senators for their leadership on the issue. He also said that once it has completed its review of the voluminous bill, the USCCB may seek improvements upon the proposed legislation, consistent with principles for reform laid out for decades by the bishops’ conference.
In their 2003 pastoral letter, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the U.S. bishops outlined several goals for immigration reform, which include:
- A path to citizenship for the undocumented that is achievable, set within a reasonable time frame and includes the maximum number of persons
- The protection and enhancement of the family-based immigration system—based on the union of a husband and a wife and their children—including the reduction of backlogs and the shortening of waiting times
- A program which allows low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the United States legally and safely, includes appropriate wage and worker protections, allows for family unity, and provides workers the option to apply for permanent residency and eventual citizenship
- The restoration of due process protections for immigrants removed by the 1996 Illegal Immigrant Responsibility and Immigration Reform Act
- The adoption of policies which address the root causes, or push factors, of irregular migration, such as persecution and the absence of living wage jobs in sending communities
- The protection of other vulnerable populations, including refugees, asylum-seekers, and unaccompanied children