US Bishops Greet Immigration Ruling With Hope, Concern

Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support Path to Citizenship

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WASHINGTON, D.C. JUNE 26, 2012 ( U.S. bishops on Monday reacted with «hope and caution» to a Supreme Court ruling of that day on a controversial immigration law enacted in the state of Arizona.

The Supreme Court struck down most of the law, only upholding the provision that allows police officers to verify immigration status during routine stops if they have «reasonable» cause to suspect they are before an illegal immigrant.

Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, expressed concern regarding that one part of the 5-3 decision.

The justices did leave the possibility open for the provision that was upheld to be found unconstitutional at a later time, the bishops’ statement noted.

«While we are concerned with the Court’s decision to lift the injunction on section 2 (B) of the law, we are encouraged that the Court did not rule it constitutional,» Archbishop Gomez said. «As we articulated in our amicus brief, the implementation of this provision could lead to the separation of families and undermine the Church’s ability to minister to the immigrant population.»

«We stand in solidarity with our brother bishops in Arizona, as they prepare to respond to the implementation of this provision and its potential human consequences,» Archbishop Gomez said.

Opponents of Arizona’s law had criticized it based on the concern that it would lead to racial profiling and the violation of civil rights laws.

«The Court’s decision to strike down the other provisions of the Arizona law reaffirms the strong role of the federal government in regulating immigration,» Archbishop Gomez stated.

Archbishop Gomez urged state governments not to rush to pass laws similar to SB 1070 and called upon Congress to assume its responsibility and enact comprehensive immigration reform. He vowed that the Catholic Church in the United States would continue to fight for humane and just reform of the nation’s immigration system.

«The U.S. Catholic bishops across the nation will urge their state governments to not pursue laws such as in Arizona, but rather to pursue humane reform on the federal level,» Archbishop Gomez said. «Humane enforcement of our nation’s laws are part of any solution, but enforcement by itself, unjustly administered, only leads to abuses and family breakdown.»

«The Church will continue to stand by immigrants and their families and seek justice on their behalf,» stated Archbishop Gomez.

Future citizens

The decision and the response of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference comes on the heels of a recent Marist poll conducted jointly with the Knights of Columbus, which revealed that a majority of Americans would support legislation that would provide illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship. 

When asked whether it was possible to have laws which secure the country’s borders while respecting immigrants, 80% of respondents said that they agreed. 

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of those taking part in the poll favored providing a path to citizenship, with specific requirements for those living illegally in the United States. 

While the report showed widespread support for immigration reform, there are matters of concern: 76% of those polled are concerned that immigrants would put a strain on the health care system, while 66% agreed that they would place a burden on public schools. 

The poll was conducted at the end of 2011 by The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

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For the results of the Marist/Knights of Columbus Poll, go to

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