(Washington, D.C.) July 15, 2010 – Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, testified before Congress on the ethical imperative for reform of the U.S. immigration system. He spoke July 14, before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.
Bishop Kicanas, whose diocese runs along the whole of the Arizona-Mexico border, said he witnesses every day “the human consequences of our broken immigration system,” adding that “[t]his is a situation which from a humanitarian and ethical stand point, needs to be addressed in a humane and comprehensive manner.”
Though often dismissed by analyses that highlight the economic, social or legal aspects, “immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue, since it impacts the basic rights and dignity of millions of persons and their families. “As such it has moral implications,” he said. “We cannot accept the toil and taxes of immigrants without providing them the protection of law.”
Bishop Kicanas recognized the rule of law as a flashpoint in the debate.
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Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahony has penned an article both elegant and blistering in response to recent anti-immigrant legislation passed in Arizona.
The Arizona legislature just passed the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law [SB 1070, awaiting the expected signature of Gov. Jan Brewer]. The tragedy of the law is its totally flawed reasoning: that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources. That is not only false, the premise is nonsense.
What led the Arizona legislature to pass such a law is so obvious to all of us who have been working for federal comprehensive immigration reform: the present immigration system is completely incapable of balancing our nation’s need for labor and the supply of that labor. We have built a huge wall along our southern border, and have posted in effect two signs next to each other. One reads, “No Trespassing,” and the other reads “Help Wanted.” The ill-conceived Arizona law does nothing to balance our labor needs.
Read Cardinal’s Mahony’s full article here. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA agrees with Cardinal Mahony that our focus should not be on exclusion, but on “passing a federal comprehensive immigration law which is forward-looking and which will help balance our need for adequate labor forces in the coming years.”
Washington D.C. – The American Immigration Council applauds Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision on the right to counsel for noncitizens charged with committing a crime. The Court held that criminal defense lawyers must advise their noncitizen clients about the risk of deportation if they accept a guilty plea. The Court recognized that current immigration laws impose harsh and mandatory deportation consequences onto criminal convictions, and that Congress eliminated from these laws the Attorney General’s discretionary authority to cancel removal in meritorious cases. The Court said, “These changes to our immigration law have dramatically raised the stakes of a noncitizen’s criminal conviction. The importance of accurate legal advice for noncitizens accused of crimes has never been more important.”
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