A delegation of Catholic leaders from all over the United States met at the Arizona-Mexico border on Monday and Tuesday to urge the US government to overhaul the country’s immigration laws.
“We see this as a moral issue, as an ethical issue,” says the Tuscan Diocese’s Bishop Gerald Kicanas. Kicanas says that bishops are particularly concerned about the way that families are being separated because of deportations, which they have seen first-hand in their own parishes. In addition they want to draw attention to the fact that a number of would-be immigrants are losing their lives in the desert as they attempt to cross the border. The Catholic leaders point out that these immigrants are simply trying to find a better life for their families and themselves.
“What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration – that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issue,” says the Archdiocese of Seattle’s auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, who is also the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration chairman. “Those who have died, and those deported each day, have the same value and innate God-given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths.”
The bishops are part of the conference’s Committee on Michigan, which believes in offering a pathway to US citizenship to undocumented immigrants. On Friday they called on Catholics across the country to fast, pray and take action for immigration reform by sending Congress members electronic postcards urging change.