In his weekly column in the Archdiocese’s news magazine, Angelus, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles called on President Trump and members of Congress returning to Washington from their August recess to find common ground on immigration reform and make the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) permanent.
“Across the board, there has been a reluctance to seek common ground,” stated Archbishop Gomez. “All sides seem willing to leave the issue unresolved, even if that means people continue to suffer – all for the sake of not ‘giving the other side a win.’”
“No one should be naïve about this reality. But we should not accept this reality, either. It is a sign of something deeply unhealthy in our democracy when all sides believe it is to their advantage not to solve problems or work together for the common good.”
Archbishop Gomez once again called for the end of deportations for those who are not violent criminals stating that “deportation alone is not an immigration policy.”
“We all agree the government should deport criminals who threaten the safety of our communities,” said the Archbishop. “But the wide net the government is now casting to catch those President Trump calls ‘bad hombres,’ is also catching a lot of good people – ordinary moms and dads who have been in this country for decades; young people starting their careers; small-business owners. These are the kinds of stories we are hearing from around the country in recent months.”
The Archbishop also stated that ‘our immigration system is broken and it is broken comprehensively, in every area.’ He expressed disappointment with the lack of action to enact comprehensive immigration reform and called on leaders in Washington to take action ‘piece by piece.’
“We may need to move slowly, but it is long past time to begin doing something constructive,” declared the Archbishop.
The Archbishop of the nation’s largest Catholic Archdiocese, who has worked on the issue of immigration throughout his ministry and as a member of the Migration Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, provided the following three key components for immigration reform that includes border security, visa reform and regularizing the status of the approximately 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.:
“Security: We need to secure our borders and establish an orderly and fair system for verifying who can enter our country and how long they can stay. We also need a noninvasive way to keep track of people once they enter this country.
“Visa reform: The best border “wall” we could build is a well-functioning visa system. We need a system that enables us to welcome workers with the skills we need to meet the realities of the global economy. That means ensuring we are granting enough visas for agricultural and construction workers, for service workers and unskilled labor; for hi-tech, medicine and other education-intensive industries. We also need a system for bringing in non-ministerial religious workers who provide critical services in many areas.
“The undocumented: What to do about the 11 million undocumented persons living among us is the most complicated and controversial aspect of reform. It does not need to be. There is broad public support for granting them a generous path to regularizing their status and even citizenship — provided they meet certain requirements, such as learning English, paying some fines and holding a job that pays taxes.”
“We need to keep in mind that beneath all the politics, there are real people, real issues and legitimate differences of opinion,” said the Archbishop. “That should not be an excuse for inaction. It should be the reason for coming together and finding a way to move forward. We can begin right now by resolving the situation of the DACA young people. It would be a tragedy to cancel DACA and declare these 800,000 young people ‘illegal’ and begin deporting them.”
The Archbishop ended his column calling for permanent relief for DACA students and young people.
“They did not make the decision to enter this country in violation of our laws, and in fairness, we cannot hold them accountable. America is the only country they know, and the vast majority are working hard to make their own contribution to the American dream. So, I am urging our elected officials to act – to grant these young people permanent relief from the fear of deportation and the chance to earn permanent residency status and eventually to seek citizenship. We can do this and we must. It is the right thing to do.”
For the full text of the Archbishop’s column in English and Spanish, visit http://www.angelusnews.com/articles/moving-forward-on-immigration.