CHARLESTON — Following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of comprehensive immigration reform legislation in May, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone joined the rest of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in urging Congress to enact effective change that provides a fair pathway to citizenship and keeps families together.
In a May 30 letter sent to South Carolina parishes, the bishop said the country’s immigration system may be awry, but a Christian perspective must be maintained.
He described his parents as immigrants who came to this country to search for better lives for themselves and their children.
“It was relatively easy for them in the early 1900s — government regulation was minimal and as time went on, appropriate documentation and citizenship ensued,” he wrote.
“Today, our country faces a serious immigration dilemma,” he stated.
“In truth, the system is a mess. An estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants live an unsettled existence and even documented immigrants have to endure years of separation from their families. Young men and women who were brought to our country illegally when they were very young by their parents and do not know anything of their former country, or in some cases even their former language, now live in a legal limbo.
“Some states, even our own, have resorted to taking anti–immigration enforcement into their own hands,” he continued.
“Not only do we have the undocumented among us, but many of our legal permanent residents often have to wait years, even decades before their families are permitted to join them,” he wrote. “Contrary to what many people think, most undocumented immigrants pay taxes and contribute to the economy. At the same time, most public assistance is denied to them.”
“We did not become a great country by keeping people out, but rather by opening wide our doors,” he wrote.
According to Catholic News Service, Senate bill, S. 744, has legalization provisions, as currently worded, that would be open to immigrants who arrived in the United States before 2012, out of an undocumented population estimated at 11 million.The bill would give federal agencies a year to implement it after it is signed into law.
Senate bill, S. 744, is expected to come to the Senate floor for amendments, debate and vote perhaps as soon as this month, CNS reported. A House bill is being written by a bipartisan panel of eight members, but details have not been released. A second plenary session discussed the particulars of S. 744 and touched on steps that can be taken now to prepare for potential passage.
“Remember, the majority of these immigrants are our brothers and sisters in the faith,” Bishop Guglielmone wrote in his letter. “I do not advocate an easy path to documentation — I support appropriate and fair requirements for citizenship — but I feel very strongly that this immigration issue must be rectified. Congress must act now.
“In the end, Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger, as He was welcomed as a child refugee in Egypt.”