WASHINGTON--Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, commented January 29, to immigration reform principles released by House Republicans at their retreat in Cambridge, Maryland.
"I am encouraged by the release of these principles, which hopefully will spark action in the House of Representatives to finally address our nation's broken immigration system," Bishop Elizondo said. "Congress must seize the moment and end the suffering of immigrants and their families."
Bishop Elizondo expressed concern, however, with some of the principles, particularly one that would confer legal status, and not a path to citizenship, to the undocumented in the country. The USCCB has consistently called for a path to citizenship for undocumented persons and their families.
"While we are pleased that there is a willingness to extend legal protection to those without status, we are concerned that most would be unable to achieve citizenship, leaving them as a permanent underclass --a minority without the same rights and protections of the majority," Bishop Elizondo said. "This would establish a troubling precedent that is inconsistent with our nation's founding principles."
Bishop Elizondo also expressed reservations about the requirement that border enforcement triggers are met prior to immigrants receiving legal status. "The process of meeting border security goals could take years, continuing to leave millions vulnerable to deportation."
Bishop Elizondo pledged to work with Congress and both parties for a law that is just and humane and serves the best interest of the United States.
"Achieving just immigration reform will not be an easy task and will require bipartisan cooperation and leadership, not politics. The Church stands ready to assist in this effort," he said. "The release of these principles represents an important step toward that end."
USCCB position on immigration reform