WASHINGTON (May 30, 2001) -- In a statement released today, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Camden, Chairman of the Catholic bishops' Committee on Migration, called upon the Administration and Congress to reevaluate the nation's border policy in light of the rising number of migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"The death of 14 migrants in the Arizona desert last week represents the latest in a series of migrant deaths along the U.S.-Mexico border," Bishop DiMarzio said. "As a nation, we must no longer tolerate nor accept the deaths of migrants along our southern border."
The bishop's statement, on U.S. Border Policy and Migrant Deaths, was released May 30, 2001.
Bishop DiMarzio said that since the launching of Operation Gatekeeper in 1994, the number of Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border has tripled, with no perceptible decline in the rate of undocumented migration. Rather, migrants have chosen more hazardous routes into the United States, leaving them vulnerable to extreme environmental conditions and to unscrupulous smugglers.
"I call upon our elected officials, both on the federal and local levels, to address the problem of undocumented migration in a comprehensive fashion," Bishop DiMarzio said. "Our elected officials must steer away from a one-dimensional approach toward our borders and examine all aspects of national immigration policy, including the legal immigration system, asylum and due process protection laws, and the current treatment of undocumented migrants who enter our country. Ultimately, the nation must thoroughly examine the root causes of undocumented migration and seek long-term solutions, especially in developing the economies of our southern neighbors."
"The Church recognizes the right and responsibility of sovereign states to control their borders," Bishop DiMarzio stated. " However, such enforcement must be sensitive to basic human rights and coupled with a legal immigration system which positively responds to the realities of migration in our hemisphere," he said.
"The U.S. Catholic bishops seek to uphold the dignity and human rights of migrants, regardless of their legal status," Bishop DiMarzio said. "We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress in the near future to fashion an immigration system which is more transparent, fair, and generous and which protects the human rights and lives of migrants who enter our land."
"I offer my prayers for the migrants who died last week in Arizona, their families, and all who have died attempting to cross from Mexico into the United States," Bishop DiMarzio said.