Bishop Richard Pates, who is among the four Iowa bishops issuing a statement today through the Iowa Catholic Conference urging immigration reform, said issues of justice, human dignity and the rule of law must override political considerations that could derail progress on immigration reform. He said: "The question of reforming our immigration system is before us. In determining how we proceed, we must reflect on the longstanding teachings of the Catholic Church. This is a very critical time as we look at reform in terms of justice, human dignity and the rule of law. We must put these issues above political considerations and look at options that serve the common good of the American people."
The following is the statement Iowa bishops released today on immigration reform.
Once again, Congress is considering the reform of our country's broken immigration system.
Many immigrants have been forced to leave their homes and countries in order to provide even for the most basic needs of themselves and their families. The desperation fo their circumstances does not correspond to the inordinate length of time (sometimes over 15 years) required to wait in line for the present system to process a visa request.
We believe that those already here, for the sake of family unity and being humane, should receive special consideration that would include eventual citizenship. We support measures that help secure our border but respect human rights and human life. We need a system that is humane for workers and fair to employers.
While Catholics may disagree within the limits of justice on the specific approach to reforming the immigration system, we must agree as a people of faith to live out the scriptural commandment to "welcome the stranger" and defend the God-given dignity of every person.
We urge all Iowans to remember their history as immigrants as we work together towards a fair and compassionate resolution of this problem. We encourage members of the Catholic community to contact their members of Congress this month, especially in the House of Representatives, in support of immigration reform legislation consistent with the principles of justice. One easy way to do this is to visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org and send a message to your member of Congress to encourage him to move the process forward.
Most Rev. Michael Jackels, Archbishop of Dubuque
Most Rev. R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City
Most Rev. Martin AMos, Bishop of Davenport
Most Rev. Richard Pates, Bishop of Des Moines