Statement on behalf of the US Catholic Bishops on Immigration Reform

Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made a statement while in San Antonio last week about immigration reform.  

Cardinal George’s statement on behalf of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, is the most recent call of the Bishops for a reform of our immigration laws. We, bishops, have been consistent in support of a fair and humane treatment of the millions of undocumented people who live among us who have proven to be good neighbors and have more productive contributions to the economic, civic, and social life of our country. They deserve to be freed from the shadow of deportation and separation from their families. They deserve a path to legal status and eventual citizenship.

Cardinal George's statement is as follows:

On behalf of the United States Catholic Bishops, gathered in San Antonio, Texas, at our annual spring meeting, I would ask President Barack Obama and congressional leaders of both parties to work together to fashion and enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation before the end of the year.

It has been clear for years that the United States immigration system requires repair and that reform legislation should not be delayed. 

We urge respect and observance of all just laws, and we do not approve or encourage the illegal entry of anyone into our country. From a humanitarian perspective, however, our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members and drive them into remote parts of the American desert, sometimes to their deaths. This suffering should not continue. 

Now is the time to address this pressing humanitarian issue which affects so many lives and undermines basic human dignity. Our society should no longer tolerate a status quo that perpetrates a permanent underclass of persons and benefits from their labor without offering them legal protections. As a moral matter, we must resolve the legal status of those who are here without proper documentation so that they can fully contribute their talents to our nation's economic, social, and spiritual well being. 

Only through comprehensive reform can we restore the rule to our nation's immigration system.

We urge President Obama and congressional leaders to meet as soon as possible to discuss and draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation, with the goal of making it law by the end of 2009. The Catholic bishops of our country stand ready to assist in this effort.


With all due respect, Cardinal Fiorenza and Cardinal George need to examine the issue of illegal immigration from the perspective of the citizen working people of the United States. The Cardinals seem to encourage respect and observance of our laws only if they consider them to be "just". The immigration laws currently on record need only vigorous enforcement in order to promulgate justice and security for our citizens. The Cardinal advocates, for humanitarian reasons, a toleration of those who migrate to support their families without a single thought as to how that migration impinges on the ability of our citizens to support their families. Since the Cardinals see fit to "moralize" maybe they should encourage those on the migration path to contribute their talents to the economic, social and spiritual well being of their own country. There comes a time when  morality should be established on the basis of what is right rather than who will fill their pews. 

Bob misses the point made by the Cardinals. I know of no one who supports illegal immigration andI can think of no one who doesn't want people to respect and observe our laws. However, we have no functioning legal immigration system when you have an annual quota for low-skilled workers of 5,000 including immediate family members. Those numbers are so low that if the annual quota of low-skilled workers were distributed equally throughout the United States among the 7,000 cities with populations greater than 20,000, it would mean that every 3 years only 1 low-skilled worker could legally immigrate to Dallas or New York or Houston. This is nonsensical and is the ROOT CAUSE of illegal immigration.

Yes, people should obey the law and should pay some penalty for violating the law, but immigration reform would not only require those that are in violation of the law to come forward and register and pay a penalty for having violated immigration law, but would also assure that they would not "cut in line" and would ultimately have to go through the normal process of qualifying once visa numbers were increased.

What the Cardinal has called for is simply common sense changes in immigration law that will recognize the inadequacies of our current legal immigration system.

With respect to people contributing their talents to the "economic, social and spiritual well being of their own countries," remember that America was built on the back of immigrants who only came here to work. The only difference between what's going on now and what was going on 100 years ago is that there is no legal mechanism by which low-skilled immigrants can legally enter the country.

     Regarding ILLEGAL immigration to the USA.  I just returned from a two week 'Tour Of Italy";  Italy nore specifically,  'The Vatican' does not allow Illegal immiration. So I suggest those ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS NEED to  pay off the child molesting  judgements and stay out of America's business as a nation. The "Church' needs to turn its attention to the Muslim problem that they have not had the guts to address.
      Before someone goes off on me. note I was a practicing Catholic until I woke up and and saw the 'Cult of the Priesthood'.
      I notice "Jose" might have some special interest. How about he put his buns down in Mexico along with all the other priests and Bleeding Hearts and fight the fight there against the the corruption instead of hidding in America.

Mr. Foster,
The fact is there are very few indigenous Americans. We are indeed a nation of immigrants. During the great waves of immigration from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries people came "with skills" and with the full understanding that they were "on their own". I believe that Ellis Island had a screening program that "turned around" those who could not demonstrate a skill or those who were convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude.
Early immigrants didn't expect/demand support programs that were force funded by the taxpayer, there was no free hospitalization, they were expected to conduct their public affairs in the English language. The fact that the illegal immigrant of today wants to work should not require the taxpayer to suffer the economic hardship of caring for him and his extended family.  The "work visa" is available as a legal avenue to entry into this country, let them do it the right way. 

Thank you for your thoughts regarding legal immigration. I think in reality there is a huge parallel between the large mass immigration of today and the turn of the last century, meaning the beginning of the 20th Century. The overwhelming large numbers that entered through Ellis Island as well as Pelican Island off the coast of Galveston and Angel Island off of San Francisco, came across in steerage bringing only the possessions they could carry, with semi to low work skills again, almost identical to the profile of the immigrants coming today. The only difference is that at that time there were no quotas at all until 1920, so anyone could come as long as they did not appear to have any contagious diseases. Ellis Island was nothing more than a quarantine station. There were no viable ways to access overseas criminal records, so it would have been very difficult to know who had been convicted of any crime so certainly a number of criminals were able to pass through. Today, all legal immigrants go through a very extensive background check to exclude all those with criminal records.


Today, the annual quota for low skilled workers worldwide no matter where they come from is 5,000, so as a practical matter there is no way for legal immigration. I would also say the immigrants that come today are coming 99% for employment and do not "expect/demand" any more support programs than they did previously. In fact, illegal immigrants are not entitled to any benefits other than the fact that their children can go to public schools as a basic right. No other benefits are provided. The only hospital benefits they get are in emergency rooms because by law emergency rooms cannot turn anyone away. Interestingly, the head of the Harris County Hospital District said he calculated that only about 10% of the low income individuals that show up in the emergency room are undocumented workers.


What's missing is a legal system so that people can come in dignity. With respect to the "work visa" being available as a legal avenue, that does not exist for low skilled workers. As I mentioned, the annual quota of 5,000 for low-skilled immigrants would mean that given the fact that most immigrants have a spouse and two kids, if you spread that out among cities with populations of more than 20,000 that means that one low-skilled or semi-skilled immigrant could immigrate to the City of Houston or New York City every 3 years and so forth. There is no viable temporary workers program for low-skilled workers. The existing temporary workers programs are all heavily weighted for high-skilled immigrants and even these visas are difficult to obtain.


There is a seasonal workers program of 65,000, but those numbers are essentially taken and used by the same industries year after year and most jobs in America are not seasonal. A large number of these visas go to ski resorts and hotels that require seasonal workers. Very few, if any, are used by low-skilled workers from Latin America because they are not coming for seasonal work, but mostly non-seasonal jobs in agriculture, construction, hotels, restaurants, lawn services and other areas which by and large are not considered attractive jobs by U. S. workers.


To solve illegal immigration, we must also have a viable legal system in order to have circular immigration because the only thing we are doing now is fencing illegal workers in, not out.


One more comment: Just as today many newscasters and others look upon immigrants from Latin America - legal and illegal - as somehow not able to adapt and the wrong type of people, this attitude is relatively mild in comparison to the anti-Catholic, anti-German/Irish and subsequently anti-Southern European, anti-Eastern European, anti-Jewish, anti-Chinese immigrant bigotry at the time of the last large waive of immigration. At that time, all of those immigrant groups were viewed as dangerous, wrong religion, unable to assimilate, threatening the American way, contaminating our blood stock, etc. It was so bad that signs in windows in Boston would frequently say "No Irish or Dogs Allowed".


Many thanks for your comments

Actually we are a nation of original settlers and subsequent immigrants that were assimilated into the existing culture.  Hence the US is a result of that culture.

Now we are overwhelmed by Mexicans that remail citizens of their home country and remail loyal to it.  Much of the money they earn is sent back to Mexico not spent here making our debt to other nations greater. Texans can no longer celebrate their independence because it might "offend" the illegals and their children. 

Houston is now 1/3 Mexican and the culture is changing.  Obama says the problem is not that immigrants can't speak english its that Ameircans can't speak French.  How about that for a elitist attitude.  If he is right then why do I have to press 1 for English, why are all the signs on some streets in Houston in Spanish, why were 35% of the emergency calls during Hurricane Ike from phones where there were no english speakers.

Only the people of Mexico decide who can come live in the USA.  The people of the USA have almost no impact.  We must eliminate all incentives for illegal aliens to invade us.  No "anchor babies", free medical care, jobs, etc.  It costs us over $20,000 per year in services for each illeal family.

Tell your elected officals to "Stop the Invasion".  Otherwise Latino's will control Texas in your lifetime and our culture will be lost forever.

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