The Diocese of Little Rock released a statement Nov. 21 about President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, speaking on behalf of the Diocese of Little Rock, said, “The president’s executive actions regarding immigration is a small, positive but only temporary step. Ultimately Congress and the administration need to work together to enact comprehensive immigration reform.”
Immigration policy reform is greatly needed by our federal government that addresses:
• An earned legalization program that allows foreign nationals of good moral character who are living in the United States to apply to adjust their status to obtain lawful permanent residence. Such a program would create an eventual path to citizenship, requiring applicants to complete and pass background checks, pay a fine and establish eligibility for resident status to participate in the program. This program would stabilize the workforce, promote family unity and bring a large population “out of the shadows,” as member of their communities.
• An effective worker program that permits foreign-born workers to enter the country safely and legally to reduce illegal immigration and loss of life at our borders. This program needs to be linked to workplace protections, living wage levels, safeguards against displacing American workers and family units.
• A reform of family-based immigration laws and regulations that allow for timely reunification of families. Changes are needed to increase the number of family visas available and reduce family reunification waiting times.
• A restoration of due process rights taken away by the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act. For example, the three- and 10-year bars to reentry need to be eliminated.
• Our nation, through Congress, needs to examine the root causes of migration, such as underdevelopment and poverty in sending countries, and seek long-term solutions. The antidote to illegal immigration is broad-based, lasting economic development in the sending countries, eliminating the need for people to escape from their home nations.
• The enforcement of immigration laws needs to be targeted, proportional and humane. By increasing the lawful means for migrants to enter, live and work in the United States, law enforcement will be better able to focus upon those who truly threaten public safety: drug and human traffickers, smugglers and would-be terrorists.
Bishop Taylor added, “While we are optimistic the president’s executive actions may help as many as 60,000 Arkansans, they are not the long-term solution to a broken system of immigration laws and regulations. We long for the day when people who have migrated to our country will be received by an immigration policy that is just and fair. As Pope Francis has said, ‘Every human being is a child of God! He or she bears the image of Christ. We ourselves need to see, and then to enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.’”
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