WASHINGTON (May 11, 1998) -- Proposals to tighten the citizenship process for immigrants should not make naturalization an unattainable goal, according to a statement by the Chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Migration, released today.
"The current criteria for attaining citizenship are time tested," said Bishop John S. Cummins of Oakland (CA). "The standards that immigrants must meet to become citizens are high, but not so high as to be unattainable. Altering the criteria in a way that would place citizenship out of the reach of more immigrants would be detrimental to us all."
Bishop Cummins, who chairs the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration Committee, issued his statement in response to congressional initiatives which would raise the requirements for immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
"Today, as in decades past for many immigrants, citizenship represents the ultimate in attaining the American dream," Bishop Cummins said.
In addition to his statements regarding the proposed changes to the naturalization process, Bishop Cummins also spoke out against suggestions that would deny automatic citizenship to certain people born in the United States.
"It is equally important that automatic citizenship for individuals born in the United States, regardless of their alienage or the status of their parents, be preserved in the law and in the Constitution," said Bishop Cummins.
Despite the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States," there has been some discussion among members of Congress to deny that automatic citizenship to children born in the United States of non-citizens.
"These newcomers ... have all eventually been allowed to make their important contributions to an ever changing, ever new America," said Bishop Cummins. "Decade by decade these new pieces of America have been laid side by side with the old to form the American mosaic."