Statement of Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration
The U.S. Catholic bishops have consistently spoken out on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform and have urged its enactment.
Today’s introduction of an immigration framework in the U.S. Senate is an important first step in the process of achieving the enactment of a comprehensive measure.
We urge members of both parties to begin a process toward introducing and enacting bipartisan legislation which affirms the rule of law and basic human rights.
While we support the general direction of the framework, including a legalization of the undocumented and improvements to our employment and family-based immigration systems, we strongly oppose extending marriage-like immigration benefits to same-sex relationships.
This proposal threatens to undermine the opportunity to bring together the Congress and the American people around a common solution to the important challenge of immigration reform.
We also have concerns about the increases in enforcement resources contained in the framework. Over the past several years, the United States has poured billions of dollars into immigration enforcement, which has not only not solved the problem but in some cases led to the abuse of migrants.
We would support the inclusion of provisions which address “push” factors that compel migrants to come to the United States, such as the lack of economic development in sending countries, so that migrants can remain in their countries and support their families in dignity.
We stand ready to work with the Administration and our federal elected officials of both parties to address these concerns and to improve the legislation in all areas. We call for a robust but civil debate. This issue can no longer wait and should not be politicized or held hostage to ideology.
Our immigration system is badly broken and is in need of immediate repair.