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Catholic Charities urges study of immigration law

Greg Cunningham, program director of Catholic Charities Spokane Refugee and Immigration Services, anticipates “lively discussion” of proposed changes to U.S. immigration law introduced in Congress.

 “The proposals are comprehensive—with components to tighten U.S. borders, provide a path toward legalization for undocumented immigrants in the United States, and consider employers’ needs,” he summarized.

Greg Cunningham
Greg Cunninigham

Greg explained that government officials have long grappled with how to tighten U.S. borders to maintain national security.
 
From his work in immigration with Catholic Charities, he knows that “migrants seeking better lives for themselves and their families risk peril to cross into the United States from Mexico.

“As security has increased along the southern border, so has the number of people who have died trying to enter the United States illegally as they seek more remote areas to cross,” he said.

Greg cited estimates of 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
“They came here not to subvert U.S. law but to provide for their families when they cannot do that at home,” he said.  “Many came as small children and know nothing of their homelands yet are unwelcome in the land they know best.”

Adding to the mix are employers who rely on immigrant labor, even though they know employing undocumented immigrants can jeopardize their businesses.

“Undocumented immigrant laborers contribute to the U.S. economy, often working jobs that citizens and lawful immigrants are unwilling to do,” he said, “yet they are not entitled to benefits the taxes they pay create.”

The bills being introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate are intended to create “a more effective, responsive, humane immigration bureaucracy.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made the reform of U.S. immigration law a legislative priority, Greg said. Through their Justice For Immigrants (JFI) campaign, the bishops promote immigration reform, which has four components:

• Educating the public about church teaching on migration and immigrants;
• Creating political will for positive immigration reform;
• Enacting legislative and administrative reforms based on the principles articulated by the bishops, and
• Organizing Catholic networks to assist qualified immigrants obtain the benefits of the reforms.

Greg said there will be educational and action-oriented events to inform and involve parishion-ers, looking at causes of migration and the church’s response from the perspective of Scripture and Catholic social teaching.

For information, call 455-4960 or visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org.