We all know that the U.S. Catholic Bishops have gone on record against many things: no-fault divorce, artificial means of contraception, same-sex marriage, and most vocally, legal abortion. It may come as a bit of surprise and a bit of welcome change that our Bishops also have come out strongly in favor of something, and that is comprehensive immigration reform. You can read the position of the United States Catholic Bishops on immigration reform at: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/churchteachingonimmigrationreform.cfm. After a couple of paragraphs on the current situation in our country and a few paragraphs on the principles of Catholic social teaching, it lays out the Bishops’ position on the following items: Earned Legalization, Future Worker Program, Family-based Immigration Reform, Restoration of Due-Process Rights, Addressing Root Causes, and finally Enforcement.
For a complex, multi-faceted issue it is a pretty concise statement, just over one page long. I highly recommend it to you.
Another great source of good information in this emotional and often confusing debate over immigration is The Immigration Policy Center. They focus on accurate statistics which often punch holes in some of the more popular myths surrounding the issue. For example, did you know that in 2010, in our great state of Texas, nearly one quarter of all business owners were foreign born? Furthermore, from 2007 to 2010, immigrants in Texas founded 31.3 percent—almost one in three—of all new businesses in the state. Those are the facts, which belie any myths about immigrant laziness or lack of initiative. It makes sense that those who have the courage and gumption to leave their native land to try for a better life in a new country and culture would be just the sort of people with the initiative and energy to try new things. The kind of people who are willing to immigrate are exactly the kind of people who make this country great. You can read more about the facts at www.immigrationpolicy.org.
From a personal note, I know that my mother’s father fled from Bohemia as a teenager to avoid fighting in the army of Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary in World War I. I am very happy he decided to do so and came to the U.S. I value my immigrant roots. Somewhere up in Bell County, Texas A&M University has an archeological dig of Paleo-Indians that arrived here some 15,000 years ago, making them the first to arrive. If you are descendants of those first settlers so many millennia ago, or if you just arrived here last year, all of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. We owe it to our ancestors to welcome immigrants today with justice and respect.
I urge you to study this issue, to get informed and to please share your views with your elected representatives. We have an opportunity right now to finally accomplish comprehensive immigration reform in our country. And that would be a very good thing indeed.