Calling the nation's immigration system, "profoundly broken," the bishops of the Florida Catholic Conference unanimously approved a statement this week calling for comprehensive immigration reform. Click here to access full statement.
The bishops said that immigration reform is not just a policy issue but also a moral one, because "the measure of a just society is how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members."
Daily, clergy and church personnel witness the consequences of the current immigration system on an estimated 850,000 persons in Florida: "divided families, exploitative working conditions, and lives vulnerable to fraud, crime, discrimination and violence."
"Let us be clear - we do not endorse illegal immigration," the bishops wrote. Yet "American employers need adequate legal means for hiring manual laborers." The bishops call on Congress "to reform this broken system to create avenues for legal immigration, to bring people out of the shadows and enable them to enjoy fully the freedom and individual rights on which this country was founded."
The U.S. Senate is considering a variety of possible reforms, many of which do not offer immigrants any hope for eventual inclusion in American society. The bishops consider those inadequate: "We need an earned legalization provision. We will not resolve the current problem with proposals that create an indefinite and temporary status, leading to a permanent second class status."
The pastoral statement calls on "all Floridians and particularly every Catholic in our state to become informed about the moral imperative for just and comprehensive immigration reform. We urge all people of good will to put aside the myths and misinformation that keep us from hearing our brother and sister immigrants' cries for justice." They urged people to inform themselves by accessing the Justice for Immigrants Campaign website, www.justiceforimmigrants.org, and to take immediate action by contacting their U.S. Senators and Representatives.