News Release: MN Catholic Bishops Renew Their Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

New immigration Statement cautions against state-based policies that divide families and impede real reform that serves human dignity and the common good

ST. PAUL, MINN (April 12, 2012)—Minnesota’s Catholic bishops, through their public policy office, the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC), today released a statement reiterating their continued concern about our nation’s “ineffective” immigration laws, as well as their opposition to  state-level attempts at reform, which they believe are not prudent or just or solutions to a complex problem.

 The bishops encourage Minnesota Catholics and all people of goodwill to petition Congress and the President to enact comprehensive immigration reform.

In the 1,300-word statement, “Unlocking the Gate in Our Hearts,” Minnesota’s Catholic bishops have joined their voice with their brother bishops around the country to encourage reform of the nation’s immigration laws.  Due to the nation’s broken system, several states, most prominently Arizona and Alabama, have recently tried to address the problem by enacting their own policies. Minnesota has been considering similar enforcement measures.  The bishops generally oppose these efforts.

“State-based solutions that focus on enforcement and divide families are not effective policies,” said Jason Adkins, Minnesota Catholic Conference executive director. “The enactment of state-level immigration policies should also be resisted because they will impede more effective, comprehensive solutions at the federal level.”

The Catholic Church has long been a vocal proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, and on the forefront of addressing the basic rights and needs of undocumented workers and their families. Some state-level legislation, however, directly interferes with that mission.

“The bills introduced in Alabama and Arizona makes it a crime to harbor illegal immigrants, which directly challenges the Catholic Church’s mission to serve all those in need,” said Adkins. “Bills like these not only threaten the human dignity of undocumented workers, but also threaten the Church’s mandate to serve those in need. And that threat to religious freedom affects all of us.”

The bishops recognize that the issue of immigration can be politically divisive, so they stress in the statement that “finding solutions to the plight of immigrants today will sometimes necessitate the overcoming of boundaries in the heart not just on the land.”   Working together for the common good often first requires a conversion of heart and an ability to see clearly the needs of others.

The statement references the Catholic teaching that “The human right to life—the foundation of every other right—implies the right to emigrate,” while also noting that immigrants are also obliged to respect and abide by the laws and traditions of the countries in which they come to reside. The statement indicates five key principles from which to assess policy proposals, including that “human rights and human dignity of all persons, including undocumented immigrants, should be respected.”

The statement can be found online, in both Spanish and English, at the Minnesota Catholic Conference website: mncc.org. Bilingual hard copies of the statement, currently under development, will list resources for Catholic communities and individuals to learn more about advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. Call 651.227.8777 to place an order for your organization.

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 ABOUT MCC

Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) coordinates the Catholic Church’s non-partisan lobbying and public policy activities on behalf of the bishops of Minnesota. It supports the ministry of the Minnesota Catholic bishops by: working with political and community leaders to shape legislation that serves the common good; educating Catholics and the public about the ethical and moral framework that should be applied to public policy choices; and, mobilizing the Catholic community to makes its voice heard in the public arena. MCC advocacy areas include economic welfare, human trafficking, immigration, education, bio-ethics, religious liberty, and marriage and family. On the grassroots level, MCC’s MN Catholic Advocacy Network (MNCAN) and Parent Advocacy Network provide opportunities for Minnesota Catholics to carry out their responsibility to participate in political life. For more information or to join MNCAN, including the Parent Advocacy Network, visit mncc.org. Follow MCC on Facebook and Twitter.