Tucson bishop warns Congress over immigration stance

U.S. Department of Homeland Security LogoGerald Kicanas, Tucson, Arizona’s Roman Catholic bishop, has warned Washington lawmakers that they risk losing support from millions of faithful Catholics unless they alter their aggressive tone when it comes to the issue of immigration reform. Kicanas, who testified last week at the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Enforcement as a representative of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, says that bishops in the United States are increasingly concerned by the tone used toward immigrants seen on Capitol Hill.

“We do not agree with terms that characterize immigrants as less than human, since no person is ‘illegal’ in the eyes of God,” Kicanas warned. “Such harsh rhetoric has been encouraged by talk radio and cable TV, for sure, but also has been used by public officials, including members of Congress.”

Kicanas testified specifically on the subject of the three bills currently in the House of Representatives that deal purely with enforcement, including the attempt to repeal the deferred action program and the Secure and Fortify Encouragement (SAFE) Act, which effectively makes it a crime for people to help undocumented immigrants. Kicanas especially slammed the latter bill, noting that rather than trying to fix the current broken immigration system Congress appears to be more interested in criminalizing “nuns and other good Samaritans” who are doing nothing more than giving aid to fellow human beings.

Kicanas declared that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops fully supports President Obama’s decision to use executive action to introduce immigration reform, as it would keep families together and help millions of people.