Editorial | Immigration reform for the common good of all

Presidential candidate Donald Trump has staked his political fortunes on the issue of immigration -- it's not seen as a compassionate approach, but it has kept the issue of comprehensive immigration reform alive, which is a good thing.

Meanwhile, a federal judge has ordered the release of hundreds of mothers and children held by immigration authorities in detention centers. The Obama administration has appealed the order.

Despite the current sentiment toward unauthorized or illegal immigration, the biblical tradition of compassion for the stranger, the alien and the worker trumps all.

The Church's approach to immigration isn't about politics. As Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles pointed out a few years ago, the Church's approach is about "preaching the good news of God's love for all peoples. It is about transforming the city of man into the family of God."

Most difficult to handle, he said, is imposing penalties that leave wives without husbands, children without parents. We are deporting fathers and leaving single mothers to raise children on little to no income.

While it is important to be a nation of justice and laws, it also is important to see immigrants as human beings, mothers and fathers, as children of God.

In 2003, the bishops of the United States, together with the bishops of Mexico, issued the pastoral statement "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope." The statement acknowledged that the current immigration system is badly in need of reform. The bishops offered a comprehensive set of recommendations for changing U.S. laws and policies to bring about a more humane and just immigration system in the United States.

The Catholic bishops do not condone unlawful entry or circumventions of our nation's immigration laws. The bishops believe that reforms are necessary in order for our nation's immigration system to respond to the realities of separated families and labor demands that compel people to immigrate to the United States, whether in an authorized or unauthorized fashion.

This is the place to start our concern for immigration issues. Screaming about the need to send everyone back to where they come from doesn't work. Our nation's border enforcement strategies have been ineffective and have led to the death of thousands of migrants. The existing immigration system has resulted in a growing number of persons in this country in an unauthorized capacity, living in the shadows as they toil in jobs that would otherwise go unfilled. Close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents must wait years for a visa to be reunited.

Let's build bridges between the political parties for justice and the common good of all, including legitimate security concerns of our nation.

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