WASHINGTON— As chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City applauded the July 28 decision by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton to halt some of the most controversial provisions of Arizona SB 1070 from going into effect the next day. Bishop Wester lamented the status quo on immigration as “unacceptable” and called for the Federal government to act immediately on immigration reform.
“It is the right decision,” Bishop Wester said. “Any law that provides legal cover to profiling affects all members of our communities, including legal residents and citizens. It is a very slippery slope. What is needed now is for Congress and the Administration to live up to their responsibilities and address this issue by passing immigration reform.”
The U.S. Catholic bishops believe that any comprehensive immigration reform bill should contain the following elements: a legalization program that gives migrant workers and their families an opportunity to earn legal permanent residency and eventual citizenship; a new worker visa program that protects the labor rights of both U.S. and foreign workers and gives participants the option to earn permanent residency; reform of the U.S. family-based immigration system to reduce waiting times for family reunification; and restoration of due process protections for immigrants, including asylum-seekers. In the longer term, policies that address the root causes of migration, such as the lack of sustainable development in sending nations, should also be part of the equation.