Key teaching on immigration from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Strangers No Longer
The central document to understand the teaching of the Catholic bishops in the United States is “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.” It was issued by the bishops of two nations – the bishops of Mexico and of the United States – working together. It was issued in 2003, a few days after the Catholic Church’s 89th annual World Day for Migrants and Refugees. It is dated January 22: this key immigration document was issued on the day of pro-life unity.
Estas son las Mañanitas...of the Hispanic Bishops
In 2011, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States published a letter to immigrants. Signed by 33 bishops, the letter was released simultaneously from Los Angeles and San Antonio, where there are high-ranking Hispanic archbishops.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez spoke with great power and eloquence, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of the bishops of the United States. One of the most attractive things about his words was that he was extraordinarily balanced in his approach. But that makes it hard to capture what he said in excerpts.
He made five recommendations:
1. Enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented workers in our nation; reforms the employment-based immigration system so that low-skilled workers can enter and work in a safe, legal, orderly, and humane manner; and reduces backlogs and waiting times in the family preference system so families can be reunited.
2. Examine the “push” factors of migration, such as international economic policies, and enact policies that encourage sustainable economic development, especially in sending communities.
3. Restore basic due process protections for immigrants, including the restoration of administrative and judicial discretion in removal proceedings and elimination of the 3-and 10-year bars to re-entry.
4. Adopt necessary legal reforms for special populations, such as refugees, asylum seekers, trafficking victims, and unaccompanied children.
5. Include the necessary elements in any legislation to efficiently implement any new immigration program, including taking actions to prepare the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to implement any new program and to properly fund such implementation.
Archbishop Gomez’s conclusion:
Mr. Chairman, we appreciate the opportunity to testify today on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. Now is the time to finally enact such reforms, and we must do it right.
Mr. Chairman, we urge you and the committee to consider our recommendations as you consider the myriad issues in this vital area. We are hopeful that, as our public officials debate this issue, that migrants, regardless of their legal status, are not made scapegoats for the challenges we face as a nation. Rhetoric that attacks the human rights and dignity of the migrant are not becoming of a nation of immigrants. Neither are xenophobic and anti-immigrant attitudes, which only serve to lessen us as a nation.
Mr. Chairman, the U.S. Catholic bishops strongly believe that comprehensive immigration reform should be a top priority for Congress and the Administration and should be enacted this year. We look forward to working with you and the administration in the days and months ahead to fashion an immigration system that upholds the valuable contributions of immigrants and reaffirms the United States as a nation of immigrants. Thank you for your consideration of our views.