A three-day conference on issues faced by Catholic advocates of comprehensive immigration reform is scheduled for Jan. 11-13 in Salt Lake City.
The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. The conference’s title, “Immigration—A 50-State Issue: A Focus on State and Local Immigration Initiatives,” reflects the USCCB’s position that immigration is a federal issue, said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City.
He said the conference is a wonderful opportunity for the diocese. “Anytime anything of that size comes in here, it gives us a platform to once again speak of the important immigration issues to our people,” he told the Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City’s diocesan newspaper. Bishop Wester added that immigration legislation created by state governments tends to create a harsh environment for undocumented people, and the conference can help advocates learn how to help these immigrants. “On a broader scale, it allows us to be part of the solution that we hope will come about once the 2012 elections are over,” he said.
Immigration must be dealt with on a federal level, said Kevin Appleby, USCCB director of migration policy. “If you have 50 different state policies and untold number of local policies on immigration, you’re not going to have an effective system. Instead of putting energy into passing bills that are unconstitutional and build fear in communities, we should put energy into getting our federal delegation to do the right thing and reform the immigration system.”