|U.S. Bishops Respond To Anti-Immigrant Tax Provision, Raids||En Espanol|
WASHINGTON - Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, and Bishop Jaime Soto, coadjutor bishop of Sacramento and Chairman of Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) sent a letter February 11 to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, and undersecretary, Julie Myers, expressing concern regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) intensified enforcement activities and the protocols followed for such actions.
"Although ICE has recently issued guidance regarding worksite enforcement operations, we believe that the guidance falls short of what is necessary," said the bishops in the letter as they urged ICE to adopt additional protocols including:
- Refraining from conducting enforcement activities in certain areas, such as at or near churches, hospitals, community health centers, schools, food banks, or other community-based organizations that provide charitable social services.
- Suspending immigration enforcement activities in the wake of natural or man-made disasters.
- Releasing primary caregivers following an enforcement action.
- Facilitating access to legal counsel and avoiding the transfer of individuals outside the community.
- Implementing mechanisms for locating family members detained as a result of enforcement actions.
- Developing community outreach and education plans that can be followed when an enforcement action takes place.
"The decision to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving tax rebates in the stimulus bill highlights the injustice in our immigration system. It proves that these workers pay into the tax system and help support our economy. It also reveals the hypocrisy of our laws. With one hand our government attempts to deport these workers, but with the other it holds tight the taxes they pay into the system. This perpetuates an underclass of workers without full rights. We should not accept the fruits of the labor of these workers at the same time we refuse to provide them the protection of our laws. As a democratic and free nation protective of human rights, we cannot have it both ways. Congress must mend a broken system and show the courage to enact comprehensive immigration reform."