The Most Rev. Gerald Wilkerson, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and president of the California Catholic Conference, released the following statement today in recognition of the historic introduction of immigration reform legislation in the US Senate and rallies taking place throughout California in support of immigration reform:
The California Catholic Conference of Bishops, in solidarity with all the bishops of the nation, applauds the introduction of U.S. Senate bipartisan legislation to reform the broken U.S. immigration system.
Throughout our dioceses, as pastors called by the Good Shepherd to care for those in need, we are sharing our own immigration stories and teaching the principles found in our Catholic Social Teaching.
For many years we have advocated for comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration laws. Our country has a right and responsibility to protect its borders, and effective immigration laws are part of that enforcement.
Right now, however, the current system fails both the nation and those seeking to contribute to American society.
We believe that the necessary elements for reform ought to include:
- An earned path to full legal status, and eventual citizenship, that is reasonable and attainable;
- Provision for immigrants brought here as minors to swiftly gain legal status to continue their education and enter the workforce;
- The reduction of immigration application backlogs so that families may be united more quickly;
- A temporary worker program that is safe, workable for families, and fair to all workers, immigrants and non-immigrants, alike;
- Restoration of due process protections restored for all immigrants involved with the immigration justice system;
- The protection of refugees and unaccompanied immigrant children; and<
- A way of addressing the root causes of immigration.
The U.S. Senate proposal is welcomed. As people of faith, we are compelled to care for the least among us in loving response to Jesus who says to us: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” We look forward to meeting with legislators and working to ensure that the final bill brings immigrants out from the shadows so that all of us together can make America stronger.
Even as we join with others in carefully reviewing the 844-page bill, we will continue and expand our efforts to enlist California Catholics—and others of good will—to advocate for this much needed reform of our national immigration laws.