Protesters sing in front of a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe outside the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in 2012 during a trial against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office, which has been accused of racially profiling Hispanics.
Now is the time to pass just, compassionate immigration reform.
President Obama has been highlighting the need and there are signs the 113th Congress may be open to action. Lawmakers are hearing from the Catholic bishops and now, most importantly, need to hear from us in the pews. Contact from a voter means everything.
Here are five things the bishops suggest we ask of our representatives:
• Preserve family unity as a corner-stone of the national immigration system. Breaking apart families runs counter to everyone's values.
• Provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented persons already in the country. To do otherwise would create a hiding underclass and perhaps a labor crisis in some industries, especially agriculture.
• Create smoother legal courses for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States.
• Restore due process protections in immigration enforcement.
• Addresses the root causes of migration, such as persecution and economic disparity.
It's a lie to call undocumented immigrants free-loaders or criminals. Almost all get jobs no one else will take, work hard, pay taxes and go without benefits of citizenship such as Social Security and adult welfare.
Even if immigration does put additional pressure on health care and private charitable work, the U.S. is duty-bound to provide such relatively modest aid. In "Strangers No Longer," a 2003 joint statement, the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States explain that "more powerful economic nations, which have the ability to protect and feed their residents, have a stronger obligation to accommodate migration flows."
In Oregon, immigration groups like Causa are echoing the bishops' principles, focusing particularly on family unity. We Catholics should give support to the local effort as well as write our lawmakers.