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Bishops urge Obama, Calderón to make immigration reform a priority

Catholic World News - May 20, 2010

The chairmen of the migration committees of the US and Mexican bishops’ conferences have issued a joint statement on President Felipe Calderón’s visit to the United States.

“We urge both leaders to focus upon the issue of immigration and how it impacts the most vulnerable: the migrant worker and their families,” Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City and Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz of Tijuana said in their May 19 statement. “While we respect the obligation of both countries to ensure the integrity of their borders and the security of their peoples, we believe they can achieve these goals without sacrificing the basic human dignity and rights of the migrant.”

They continued:

With regard to the United States, it is essential that immigration reform legislation become a priority. Currently, the U.S. immigration system does not provide sufficient legal visas or legal status for immigrants to work in jobs that are important to the U.S. economy. A system which provides legal avenues for migration would reduce the exploitation of migrants by human smugglers and the number of migrant deaths in the desert. Reform must also bring migrants out of the shadows, so that they can live with their families without fear.

With regard to Mexico, changes must be made to ensure that migrants are not abused and subject to exploitation by criminal elements and corrupt officials. More attention should be paid to the creation of living-wage employment for low-skilled workers, so that they can stay at home and support their families in dignity. This would help reduce illegal immigration over the long-term, a goal which both nations share …

The United States and Mexico face a crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, with drug cartels and human smuggling networks battling with law enforcement and placing citizens of both sides of the border at risk. Repairing the immigration laws in both countries would help take migrants out of the enforcement equation and would permit law enforcement to focus their limited resources on criminal networks.

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