Secure Borders With Better Laws, Urges Bishop

Sees “Right Approach” in Senate Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 30, 2006 ( A U.S. bishop told a congressional subcommittee that comprehensive immigration reform legislation that is just and humane is the best way to secure the nation’s borders.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of Catholic Legal Immigration Network Incorporated and a consultant to the Committee on Migration of the U.S. bishops’ conference, testified Thursday before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims.

Bishop DiMarzio said the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, passed by the U.S. Senate, “contains many of the elements necessary to comprehensively reform a flawed immigration system.”

“Although it does not contain all the elements the U.S. bishops would like to see in legislation,” he said, “it is the right approach and right direction our country should be taking in tackling the problem of illegal immigration.

“In our view, an enforcement-only approach to immigration reform will not address the need for legal avenues for future flows of immigrants to come to the United States to work or join family members, nor would it address the plight of 11-12 million undocumented in the nation.”

For better, not worse

Emphasizing that enactment of comprehensive immigration reform would enhance, not undermine, protecting the nation from terrorist threats, the bishop continued: “The overall principle which supports this view is that by enacting comprehensive immigration reform, we would be better able to identify who is already in the country and to identify and control who enters it.

“By enacting a program that provides an earned path to citizenship, for example, 11-12 million undocumented persons in the nation would feel compelled to emerge ‘from the shadows’ and identify themselves to the government.

“The enactment of additional employment and family-based visas for low-skilled workers and their families would help ensure we know who is entering the country and for what purpose.”

“National security is not just about keeping those who harm us out of our country, but about keeping those who help us in and allowing others who want to help us to enter,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “Comprehensive immigration reform will help us achieve this goal.”

Legislation to fix the nation’s broken immigration system must be efficiently implemented, Bishop DiMarzio insisted.

“As the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate consider a final immigration package, it must include elements which provide the executive branch the tools to implement any new programs in a timely, efficient and secure manner,” he said. “It also should be designed in a way to minimize fraudulent applications and marginalize ‘notarios’ who prey upon prospective applicants with misinformation.”

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