US Bishops See Common Sense in Immigration Development

Prelate Stresses Need to Respect Family Ties

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 30, 2011 ( The U.S. bishops are praising a government move to direct immigration-enforcement resources toward criminals, rather than immigrants who are considered «low-priority» for deportation.

Los Angeles’ Archbishop José Gomez, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, affirmed this in a Thursday letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security.

The archbishop summarized the development of the decision, and noted positive steps, including an interagency working group established between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, which will review some 300,000 cases in the «removal pipeline.» He also praised an announcement that all immigration-related agencies, such as border protection personnel, will receive formal guidance on the policy.

Archbishop Gomez added: «The U.S. Catholic bishops ask that as you further develop the criteria to review the approximately 300,000 cases in the removal pipeline, and as you consider individuals prospectively for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion who are not yet in the removal pipeline, that you prioritize: (1) families, as defined under current federal immigration law; (2) vulnerable populations, including the mentally and physically disabled and victims of crimes; (3) children and individuals who were brought to the United States as minors, through no fault of their own; (4) pregnant and nursing women; (5) those with long-term presence in the United States and other equities, such as U.S. citizen children or spouses and contributions to their communities through their work, faith communities, among other means, and (6) clergy and religious who serve in faith communities.»

The prelate said the decision «embodies the kind of common-sense, compassionate immigration policies that can serve to simultaneously enforce federal immigration law while respecting the dignity and vulnerabilities of the migrants in our midst.»

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