In response to a proposal from Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, a longtime advocate for the rights of immigrants, the bishops endorsed a statement in favor of comprehensive immigration reform to be issued in the name of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the bishops’ conference. Mahony urged the conference to speak out in view of signals that congress may be on the brink of addressing the issue.
George’s statement, adopted by voice vote Thursday morning, urged President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to adopt comprehensive immigration reform by the end of 2009.
“We respect all just laws, and do not encourage the entry of illegal immigrants into our country,” George’s letter said. “But from a humanitarian perspective, we support our fellow human beings … who suffer from policies that separate them from their families and drive them into remote corners of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths.”
“We should not tolerate a status quo that perpetuates a permanent underclass,” George said, arguing that providing pathways to legalization would allow immigrants to “fully contribute their talents to our nation’s economic, social and spiritual well-being.”
The letter, to be signed by George on behalf of the conference, is addressed to President Barack Obama and members of congress.
In other immigration-related action, the bishops elected Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock, Arkansas to the board of CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network,which provides legal services to low-income immigrants in the United States.