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Archbishop Gomez calls for compassion, empathy in immigration debate

Catholic World News - January 15, 2014

In two recent talks to civic organizations, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles discussed the plight of immigrants who are present in the United States illegally.

“I’m a pastor, not a politician,” he said. “We need to insist that this issue is not about politics or economics. It’s about people. People who are struggling. People who are suffering.”

“My friends, right now we have fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers dying in the deserts outside our borders,” he continued. “Nobody even knows how many. The government estimates about 6,000 in recent years. Other people say the number is three times that. The point is there are no news stories when somebody dies in the desert.”

“We also have a permanent underclass that has been growing in our society,” he added. “Again this is not statistics, but people. We see them every day … Our comfort and our economy depend on these people. They provide millions in tax revenues. But these people are living in the margins of this great country and they have no rights, no security, no health care.”

Archbishop Gomez went on to say that “in my opinion, we need to find some way to hold undocumented immigrants accountable for breaking our laws. Personally, I think community service and civic education are more constructive than deportation and fines. But we also need to give them a chance to normalize their status and invite them to join us as citizens in building the new America.”

Archbishop Gomez added:

Over that last four years, we’ve deported nearly 2 million immigrants. Thousands more have been arrested and are being held in “detention centers” here in Los Angeles and around the country.

In the name of enforcing our laws, we’re breaking up families. We’re punishing kids for the mistakes of their parents. That’s the sad truth – one out of every four people we deport or lock up is being taken away from an intact family. Again, these aren’t just statistics. We’re talking about kids suddenly left without a mom or a dad. I think everyone would agree that this is not the America that our founders dreamed of.

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  • Posted by: Kansas Girl - Jan. 16, 2014 12:58 PM ET USA

    Illegal immigration is a huge problem for this country and not a simple one to fix. First, however, we need to close the border. Then we can address the problem of the illegals already in our country. They need to be documented so that we know their age, family status, educational level, skill level, and so on. Then they can be given work permits, if eligible. But first the border needs to be secured. We are not against immigration but we need legal immigration not a flood of illegals.

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