Our broken immigration system is a wound on our country and a scandal to the Body of Christ on the border. Our border community bears disproportionately the burdens of a broken system. No one can deny the terrible human impacts of a system that forces over 11 million persons without documents to live in the shadows, divides families, permits some to detain human beings for profit, and compromises our nation’s historic commitment to the refugee and asylum seeker. For this reason, the Catholic Church in the United States supports an integral approach to reforming our nation’s broken immigration laws and policies, known as Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Comprehensive Immigration Reform should include the following:
1. Bringing 11 million out of the shadows and strengthening legal immigration.
Nations that enjoy the peace, prosperity and security that we do must ensure that there are sufficient legal avenues for migrants workers and their families, who fill important roles in our economy, to migrate in a safe and orderly way. Asylum seekers fleeing violence, persecution, and extreme poverty deserve special protections. The 11 million undocumented persons in our country should be provided with a fair, earned path towards legalization and eventual citizenship.
2. Planning for future flows now and safeguarding rights.
A reformed system should be flexible in order to respond to future migration flows, including the need for foreign-born workers, and should ensure workplace protections, living wage levels, safeguards against the displacement of U.S. workers, and the priority of family unity.
3. Putting families first.
Reforming our immigration system means putting families first. We should end deportation practices that separate families and adopt a system that prioritizes family unity. It can currently take decades for families to be reunited through today’s burdensome and expensive system.
4. Addressing root causes.
As a country, we are involved in the drivers of migration, through things like unfair trade policies, our addiction to drugs and even climate change. Lawmakers must address the root causes of migration and promote sustainable economic development abroad, which will allow our brothers and sisters to remain in their home countries and support themselves and their families in safety.
5. Promoting community security over border militarization.
Comprehensive immigration reform should provide security while still allowing for the orderly entry of people into our country, especially those fleeing for their lives. Immigration enforcement measures must be targeted, proportional and humane. The detention of migrants who pose no threat to our communities should be ended. Enforcement-first and blockade strategies which militarize border communities should be ended.
Comprehensive Immigration Reform