Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series prepared by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference as a guide for those who wish to inform their consciences in order to participate more fully in the political process. To learn more about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (FCFC), visit faithfulcitizenship.org and wisconsincatholic.org.
Why is the church committed to immigration reform?
As the Wisconsin bishops wrote in their 2012 pastoral letter, “Traveling Together in Hope,”
“As Catholics, we uphold the sanctity and dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death. We affirm that every human being is created in God’s image through his boundless love. Just as we work to protect the innocent unborn, 40 million of whom have already lost their lives, so we cannot turn our backs on the 12 million immigrants in our midst who long to live freely and fully.”
What about people who are in our country illegally?
Wisconsin’s bishops acknowledge that the rule of law is essential to maintaining a stable society. However, they explain that Americans “have to acknowledge that some of our foreign and domestic policies and practices have contributed to the illegal entry of immigrants. Our nation’s incessant demand for inexpensive goods and services is one of the driving forces behind the export of American jobs and the hiring of immigrant workers. Our nation is a magnet for immigrants because there is work here and because of the international disparity in wages. Our aging population needs younger workers” (Traveling Together in Hope).
What immigration reform does the church support?
“Comprehensive reform … should include a broad and fair legalization program with a path to citizenship; a work program with worker protections and just wages; family reunification policies; access to legal protections, which include due process procedures; refuge for those fleeing persecution and violence; and policies to address the root causes of migration. The right and responsibility of nations to control their borders and to maintain the rule of law should be recognized but pursued in a just and humane manner” (FCFC, 81).
What more can be done to help those fleeing poverty, violence and persecution?
As Pope Francis explains, “The church stands at the side of all who work to defend each person’s right to live with dignity, first and foremost by exercising the right not to emigrate and to contribute to the development of one’s country of origin. This process should include, from the outset, the need to assist the countries which migrants and refugees leave. This will demonstrate that solidarity, cooperation, international interdependence and the equitable distribution of the earth’s goods are essential for more decisive efforts, especially in areas where migration movements begin, to eliminate those imbalances which lead people, individually or collectively, to abandon their own natural and cultural environment” (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2016).