In a November 7 letter addressed to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called upon members of the House of Representatives to address immigration reform legislation “as soon as possible, ideally prior to the end of the calendar year.” Cardinal Dolan said, "Reports that immigration reform is now delayed in the House are most troubling.
Cardinal Dolan said that passage of immigration reform is a matter of “great moral urgency that cannot wait any longer for action.”
In stating the case for action, Cardinal Dolan cited the ongoing suffering of immigrants and their families caused by a broken immigration system. “As pastors, we [the bishops] witness each day the human consequences of a broken immigration system,” he wrote. “Families are separated through deportation, migrant workers are exploited in the workplace; and migrants die in the desert.
"In their attempts to respond to these human tragedies, our priests, religious, and social service providers in many cases are unable to help these persons without changes to the law."
Cardinal Dolan also wrote that keeping undocumented workers as a permanent underclass is a “stain on the soul of our nation.”
“As a moral matter, our nation cannot continue to receive the benefits of the work and contributions of undocumented immigrants without extending them the protection of the law. Studies have demonstrated that undocumented immigrants contribute substantially to our nation’s economy, working in industries such as service, construction, and agriculture. Keeping these human beings as a permanent underclass of workers who are unable to assert their rights or enjoy the fruits of their labor is a stain on the soul of the nation.”
“The House has a responsibility to debate and attempt to resolve public policy issues that challenge the nation. Immigration is a challenge that has confounded our nation for years, with little action from our federally elected officials. It is a matter of great moral urgency that cannot wait any longer for action.”
As the U.S. bishops have done in the past the cardinal urged passage of immigration reform that:
• establishes a fair and achievable path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation;
• creates a program that permits future flows of migrant workers to enter safely and legally and with appropriate protections;
• reaffirms family reunification as the cornerstone of our nation’s immigration system and expedites the reunification of families, "based on marriage as the union of one man and one woman";
• restores basic due process protections to immigrants, including protections against unnecessary detention;
• enhances protections for refugees and asylum-seekers; and 6) examines the root causes of migration, such as poverty and persecution, and adopts policies that address these push factors.