U.S. Urged to Re-examine Border Policy

Bishops´ Point Man on Migration Laments Deaths

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 31, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are urging the Bush administration and Congress to re-evaluate the nation´s border policy in light of the rising number of migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border.

«The death of 14 migrants in the Arizona desert last week represents the latest in a series of migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border,» said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Camden, New Jersey, chairman of the U.S. bishops´ Committee on Migration.

«As a nation, we must no longer tolerate nor accept the deaths of migrants along our southern border,» he said.

Bishop DiMarzio commented that since the launching of Operation Gatekeeper in 1994, the number of Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border has tripled, with no perceptible decline in the rate of undocumented migration. Rather, migrants have chosen riskier routes into the United States, leaving them vulnerable to extreme environmental conditions and unscrupulous smugglers.

In a statement released Wednesday, Bishop DiMarzio said: «Our elected officials must steer away from a one-dimensional approach toward our borders and examine all aspects of national immigration policy, including the legal immigration system, asylum and due process protection laws, and the current treatment of undocumented migrants who enter our country.»

«Ultimately,» he added, «the nation must thoroughly examine the root causes of undocumented migration and seek long-term solutions, especially in developing the economies of our southern neighbors.»

«The Church recognizes the right and responsibility of sovereign states to control their borders,» Bishop DiMarzio stated. «However, such enforcement must be sensitive to basic human rights and coupled with a legal immigration system which positively responds to the realities of migration in our hemisphere.»

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