WASHINGTON (May 26, 2006) — The U.S. bishops view the immigration bill that passed last night in the Senate as a critical first step in reaching a comprehensive approach to dealing with the challenges of the nation's immigration system.
"While the U.S. bishops' Conference does not agree with each and every provision in the Senate Senate bill, we applaud its comprehensive approach and believe it contains many of the elements necessary to help solve the problems associated with our country's current immigration system," said Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, California, Chairman of the Bishop's Committee on Migration. Bishop Barnes' statement follows.
Bishop of San Bernardino
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration
The passage of S. 2611, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006, in the U.S. Senate is a historic moment for our nation. While the U.S. bishops' Conference does not agree with each and every provision in the Senate-passed bill, we applaud its comprehensive approach and believe it contains many of the elements necessary to help solve the problems associated with our country's current immigration system.
As the Congressional process continues, 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 that is found in the Senate bill. 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.
Ultimately, the U.S. bishops' continued support for immigration reform legislation requires a workable and viable path to citizenship for the undocumented, significant backlog reductions for family-based visas, and a viable temporary workers program that protects both U.S. and foreign- born workers.