Immigration Bill Hailed as “Critical First Step”

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 29, 2006 ( The U.S. bishops’ conference praised the Senate’s approval of an immigration bill, saying that the measure contains many of the elements needed to solve the problems in immigration.

A statement on the conference’s Web site described the bill as a “critical first step.” The Senate passed the bill Thursday.

“While the U.S. bishops’ conference does not agree with each and every provision in the Senate bill, we applaud its comprehensive approach,” said Bishop Gerald Barnes, chairman of the bishop’s committee on migration.

The prelate’s statement further read: “We urge the Senate and House of Representatives to work together to either eliminate or ameliorate the harsh enforcement provisions found in both the House- and Senate-passed versions of the legislation.

“In addition, we encourage House members and Senators to simplify and streamline the path to citizenship for the undocumented in this country.

“We also encourage Congress to maintain a viable and just temporary worker program, which includes an option to petition for permanent residency, as well as to make changes to our family-based immigration system to reduce the waiting time for families to be reunited.”