April 27, 2006
Statement by Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, STD
Bishop of Worcester
On Immigration Reform
The issue of immigration reform is a complex one that has serious moral, legal, social, and political implications. There is no doubt that current immigration laws need to be studied and reformed, given the fact that there are an estimated 11 million or more illegal immigrants in the United States today.Â However, any legislation that addresses immigration reform must be both just and humane. Some pieces of legislation that have been proposed in the Congress are harsh and vindictive since they would make illegal immigrants felons as well as those who would serve them, such as the charitable agencies and personnel of the Catholic Church.
Let us be mindful that most of the new immigrants have come to this country to flee civil war, political persecution, and extreme poverty. They have arrived here in the hope of attaining a better life for themselves and their families. Many now have children who have been born in this country and therefore are American citizens. Any legislation that would break-up families and criminalize or deport mothers and fathers of families is unethical and unjust. Our nation is a nation of immigrants who, in due time, have contributed to the well being of our democratic society. While the Catholic Church does not condone unlawful entry or circumvention of our nationâ€™s immigration laws, I ask that all people of good will join with the bishops of the United States in advocating for immigration reform that responds to the realities of separated families and our nationâ€™s labor demands.
The words which have greeted generations of newcomers to New York City as they passed the Statue of Liberty are a reflection of what has made our country the great nation it is today. Let us engage in this debate over immigration reform in a civil manner as we recognize the human dignity of â€˜the tired, the lonely and the poorâ€™ who are already in our midst struggling to find a way to be a part of the American dream.