We need immigration reform

By John C. WesterCatholic Bishop, Salt Lake City Upon signing into law SB 1070, the Arizona immigration bill which would … Continued

By John C. Wester
Catholic Bishop, Salt Lake City

Upon signing into law SB 1070, the Arizona immigration bill which would make enforcement targets of anyone looking foreign-born in that state, Gov. Jan Brewer complained: “We in Arizona have waited patiently for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation. “

I would agree, but with an amendment. I would say that all Americans have waited for the federal government to find a solution to the problem of illegal immigration. They have acted, for sure, but not in the right way and not for the right reasons. I would also agree that the situation is dangerous and unacceptable, but that Arizona’s SB 1070 makes it worse, not better.

The federal government since 2002 has spent over $100 billion on immigration enforcement initiatives. This amounts to a doubling of Border Patrol agents to almost 20,000, nearly 700 miles of border fencing, a failed “virtual” fence costing billions, and a tripling of detention beds.

This is not to mention the manpower, weaponry, and other resources spent on immigration enforcement raids over the past several years, used to whisk away powerless mothers and fathers from their even more powerless children.

Yet, despite this strategy, along with its tragic human consequences, there has been no sustainable progress. In fact, the number of undocumented has risen over 50 percent in the past ten years, from 7 million in the 2000 Census to 11 million today.

To borrow from a nursery rhyme, all of the King’s horses and all of the King’s men have not put our immigration system back together again.

Arizona’s SB 1070 is not an affirmation that enforcement measures alone are the right approach to illegal immigration, but a confirmation that enforcement-only tactics have not worked. It should be a wake-up call–a cry from the desert, if you will–to our national leaders that another approach is needed.

Despite its controversy, comprehensive immigration reform is the best way to secure the border and make us a safer nation.

It is only logical. Bringing 11 million undocumented persons out of the shadows to register with the government, which is what immigration reform would do, would eliminate the desire or need for the Arizona law. Creating more legal avenues for migrant workers to come and work in our country, another reform component, would give law enforcement officials more time and money to pursue those who are a real threat–drug smugglers, human traffickers, and would-be terrorists. It would also help meet our future labor needs.

Such reforms would take undocumented persons out of the enforcement equation, making it easier to secure our communities and border. It also would restore the rule of law in a manner that affirms both our national security interests and our nation’s long-term commitment to basic human rights, rights which are threatened by laws such as SB 1070.

The immigration reform framework recently unveiled by several key Senators suggests a cry from the desert may have been heard and help is on the way. Although somewhat heavy on the usual enforcement methods, among some other flaws, the framework is a good starting point and contains several necessary and overdue changes to our employment and family immigration laws. President Obama and senators on both sides of the aisle, including Arizona’s two senators, should actively engage the process as the best path toward a secure border and viable immigration system.

The real message from the passage of SB 1070 is that the country is growing impatient with the political posturing in Washington and wants our leaders to work together and confront this national challenge. Throwing money at the problem and waiting for the next election cycle are not acceptable. As Gov. Brewer might agree, what would help Arizona, as well as the nation, is a solution, not business as usual.

Comprehensive immigration reform is that solution, and must be enacted immediately. Without it, other States will start taking the law, and the Constitution, into their own hands.

John C. Wester is the Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.

  • infinity555

    ARIZONA IS NOT TO BLAME? WASHINGTON CAUSED THIS MESS.How about opponents of any illegal immigration, boycott states or other entities including baseball that ostracizes Arizona?Every anti-illegal immigrant organization in the United States and the majority of the pro-sovereignty population will fight Amnesty. Washington and pro-amnesty politicians over several decades of both parties, have brought this illegal alien invasion mess upon themselves and its people? They even went as far as cutting budgets instead of building the–REAL–double fence? Many Americans may shun away from being called a racist. American and legal residents don’t demonstrate because they are liable to be attacked by illegal alien extremists. As Politically correct” laws have become a major encumbrance to our safety. The same with using ” Racial profiling” by the open border zealots, that is compromising any safety net we have in any state, the border or airport terminals Being a tea party activist, a moderate Conservative (neither a Democrat or Republican) and a long time member of NumbersUSA organization, I totally agree with the party in battling any form of Amnesty or any path to citizenship for people who violated our laws.Arizona–as a border state has a crippled economy from financial supporting illegal immigrant welfare, plus its cities police are unable to handle the criminal incursions from across the border. This soft Obama administration is going to cause a massive calamity through its Liberal ideology? Somewhere on our soil is a cell of people who hate our guts, whether foreign terrorists or home-grown terrorists and they will succeed in killing innocent citizens-legal residents. It is already known that Cartels in Mexico are assisting these criminals from the Middle East. Somewhere soon homeland Security intelligence will fail to pick up criminal activities and death like 9/11 will happen in this nation. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign countries, but our lawmakers argue over appropriating several billion dollars, on building the real double fence or stationing the National Guard permanently on the border as Mexico does with Guatemala? How about bringing our troops home from other countries and demand they invest in their own military to protect their own people?

  • robtemery

    The murder of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz by Illegals along the border and failure of the Fed Gov to enforce present immigration law and PROTECT the lives of American citizens prompted the Arizona law. If the Possibility of racial profiling or unconstitutionality is a legitimate concern, why aren’t politicians and Catholic Religious leaders demanding border security which would make the law unnecessary??? Obviously, the real agenda is Legalization and without any regard for victims of violence by illegals. I pray to GOD the Catholic church suffer the same violence perpetrated on innocents along the border.

  • mehuwss

    On health care, Obama said: “If not now, when? If not us, who? Now is not the time to run for the hills.”

  • usapdx

    A immagrant is a person from another country that becomes a citzen in a given country. A person that sneakes into a country is NOT a immagrant but a VIOLATER of that country’s law and border from the first step. They are a BLACK EYE to the immagrants. I say to our U.S.A. immagrants WELCOME to YOUR new country, the U.S.A. and hope you have a full happy life as a AMERICAN. To the plus 12,000,000 ILLEGALS, you are NOT welcomed in the U.S.A. for you have VIOLATED our laws and borders as well as taken good jobs from AMERICANS for SCAB wages by your employeers who also VIOLATED U.S.A. law by hireing . All the ILLEGALS are a libility to the AMERICAN CITZENS for we pick up the rest of the tab via our taxes. The dogooders groups that speak out for you and turn around and claim TAX EXAMPT are stealing for by speaking on this POLITICAL MATTER have violated the TAX EXAMPT RULES OF THE TAX EXAMPT LAW. TOTAL FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE U.S.A. requirs the fileing of income with the I.R.S. and full payment of due TAX. It time congress repeals the TAX EXAMPT LAW account of all the violations. So this PLUS 12,000, 000 ILLEGALS in the U.S.A. NEVER DESERVE TO BE A U.S.A. CITZEN.

  • YEAL9

    “John C. Wester is the Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration”One question: There are Catholics in Salt Lake City other than illegal immigrants doing chores for the Mormons??One observation: If we would cut our own grass, do our own landscaping, cook our own food, clean our own laundary, care for own kids and clean our homes and churches/temples ourselves, there would be no need for Mexican, Haitian, Italian and/or Asian “slaves” and therefore there would be no illegal immigration.

  • gunnargallmo

    The unconditional right to cross a national border – _any_ national border, with or without passport or visa – is guaranteed by Article 13 in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Se

  • nicolasajimenez

    @GUNNARGALLMO

  • usapdx

    Speaking on NATION ( STATE ) borders, did you every ask why the VATICAN NATION ( STATE) is such for what reason? I bet Cardinal Law could tell you why. ALL NATIONS MUST RESPECT ALL OTHER NAIONS BORDERS. Si.

  • Patriot12

    Reform?In the Democrats view, that’s an official surrender to Mexico – mandating that the Mexcian flag be flown stop old glory on all public buildings and that every American “teach their children Spanish” which Obama has alread said and Univision and Laraza still demand.Proof: California High School expels American students for respecting the American flag while allowing illegal Chicanos to riot on school grounds over their right to wear thge Mexican flag.No AMNESTY – let them all self deport back to Mexico. Remove their US benefits and, when they act like rioting Greeks throwing bricks and kniofing Americans, cut off from their self perceived right to AMERICAN tax paid entitlements, shoot back!

  • areyousaying

    Meanwhile, here in Mexico, I just received an email spammed by Mexicans against CongressmanIn typical Latin passion, the message points out the Sensenbrenner is the majority shareholder in Kimberly Clark and calls for Latinos to boycott its products.This is reminiscent of a few years back when Mexican rallied to boycott American franchises in Mexico on Mayday. I was so happy I could go to Sam’s Club without anyone there only to find the parking lot more crowded than ever because May 1 is a Mexican holiday from work and school.I seriously doubt Mexicans are going to give up Kleenex and especially Kotex in solidarity with their illegal “paisanos” in the US.

  • demouradorival

    STOP TO THREAT ALL IMMIGRANTS LIKE CRIMINALS, THERE ARE SO MANY WORKING HARD FOR THIS COUNTRY,THEY DESERVE SOME RESPECT,THEY WORK IN FARMS,DOING YOUR FOOD EVERY DAY,THEY BUILD YOUR HOUSES, CLEAN YOUR HOUSES,SOME IMMIGRANTS CAME TO THIS COUNTRY WITH A VISA BUT BECAUSE THE LAWS THEY CANT RENIEW,SOME HAVE THEIR OWN BUSSINESS CREATING JOBS FOR AMERICANS TOO,WHY FOR SOME PEOPLE ITS SO HARD TO RECOGNIZE,THAT THE IMMIGRANTS ARE HELPING THE ECONOMY, JUST LOOK AROUND YOUR HOUSES CAN YOU SEE HOW MANY IN FORECLOSURE, HOW MANY BUSSINESS CLOSING, HOW MANY WAREHOUSES FOR RENT, THIS IS A SNOW BALL,JUST GROWING, THIS COUNTRY NEEDS RIGHT NOW, PEOPLE,THAT WORK HARD,AND HELP THE ECONOMY,DID YOU THINK IF YOU GIVE THIS PEOPLE NOT A GREEN CARD, BUT JUST A TEMPORARY PERMIT TO WORK,THEY CAN PAY TAXES,FINES,AND INSTEAD SEND THEIR MONEY TO ANOTHER COUNTRY,THEY CAN INVEST HERE,I CALL THIS INTELLIGENCE.THE IMMIGRANTS ARE BETWEEN 1 FIGHT FOR LATINOS VOTE IN NOVEMBER, MR.PRESIDENT YOU PROMISSE TO DO THE IMMIGRATION REFORM IN YOUR FIRST YEAR, FORGET REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS,JUST SIGN NOW A NEW LAW 245i, LIKE MR. BILL CLINTON DID IN 2001, THIS WAY YOU THE MOST POWERFULL MAN IN THIS WORLD,CAN GO TO THE HISTORY.WE WILL NEVER FORGET.GOD BLESS AMERICA

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