By Lisa Zengarini
The bishops of the United States have expressed their full support for the inclusion of new immigration provisions legalizing undocumented immigrants in the forthcoming budget reconciliation bill.
The proposed bill, amounting to 3.5 trillion dollars, is intended to expand the country's social safety net. However, in a move supported by the bishops, congressional Democrats are also attempting to use it as a means of providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. These include immigrants who were brought to the US as children (the so-called Dreamers), as well as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders; Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries; and a number of undocumented essential workers.
A welcome milestone for families
The House Judiciary Committee passed the latest measure on September 13. In a statement on Wednesday, Bishop Mario Dorsonville, chairman of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), hailed the move as an “important step” and a “welcome milestone for many families and the common good.” He recalled that for decades the bishops of the United States “have been proponents of such reforms, which promote integration and family unity.” In his statement, the prelate points out that the country cannot persist in relegating these members of society to the margins, “especially when we simultaneously depend on so many of them for our collective wellbeing.”
The need for comprehensive reform
While reiterating the need for “a more comprehensive reform” of the US immigration system, “one that acknowledges and respects the God-given dignity of every person,” the bishops therefore call on both the House of Representatives and the Senate to include the new provisions in the final reconciliation bill.
Respecting rights and dignity of every human life
Bishop Dorsonville’s statement follows a letter sent last week by five committee chairmen of the USCCB outlining the bishops’ broad range of priorities for the full bill. In Wednesday’s statement, Bishop Dorsonville reiterates their call for Congress to pass a text “that helps all those on the margins of our society, strengthens families, protects religious freedom, promotes care for creation, and respects the rights and dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death.”