Coadjutor Archbishop Gomez condemns workplace immigration raids
February 9th, 2011
By George Raine
The U.S. Catholic bishops decry workplace raids on immigrants, which cause family members to be separated and even bring about “the destruction of the family,” Coadjutor Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement Jan 26.
He said that the bishops believe that immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue because it impacts “the basic human rights and dignity of the human person.” He added that the church in the U.S. supports the pursuit of comprehensive reform in lieu of enforcement-only measures in dealing with unauthorized immigration.
There are an estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants presently in the U.S. and the bishops, said Archbishop Gomez, do not question the right of the sovereign to enforce immigration laws. But the bishops do not, he said, accept “some of the policies and tactics that our government has employed to meet this responsibility.”
Archbishop Gomez, the former archbishop of San Antonio, in April was named coadjutor of Los Angeles by Pope Benedict XVI. He will automatically become head of the three-county Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic see, upon Cardinal Roger Mahony’s retirement at 75 on Feb. 27.
Cardinal Mahony has written extensively about immigration. In his blog, on Jan. 18, Cardinal Mahony wrote that he became friends with Mexican-American men and women who worked at his parents’ plant in the San Fernando Valley when he was a child. The relationship continued during his years as a priest and continued when he was named bishop and worked with immigrants in the Dioceses of Fresno and Stockton.
He wrote, “Over the years immigrant people have become very dear to me, and Jesus continues to call me to walk with them on their journey. I intend to spend the coming months and years walking in solidarity with the 11 million immigrants who have come to the United States to improve their own lives and the life of our country and to advocate on behalf of the silent millions.”
In his testimony before the House subcommittee, Archbishop Gomez noted that illegal immigrants, largely from Mexico, are low-skilled workers who come to the U.S. to support their families, working in the agricultural, meatpacking, landscaping, services and construction industries.
Over the past few years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, responsible for enforcing prohibitions on the employment of unauthorized immigrants, has staged high-profile workplace raids, apprehending thousands of workers.
“Although ICE undertook these raids in disparate industries across the United States, a common theme binds them all: the destruction of the family. As a result of each of these very different raids, families and their communities were destroyed,” said Archbishop Gomez.
He said the bishops’ conference “believes that the humanitarian costs of workplace raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society.”
At the same time, Archbishop Gomez said the U.S. bishops support a comprehensive immigration reform that would include:
An earned legalization program for foreign nationals of good moral character; the reform of the family-based immigration system; a revamped temporary worker regime that protects both the workers who would come to the U.S. and U.S. citizen workers; the restoration of immigrants’ due process rights, and an effort to meaningfully address the root causes of migration, such as under development and poverty.
Also included would be “the targeted, proportional and human enforcement of immigration laws,” said Archbishop Gomez. He said the bishops believe that by increasing 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.”
From February 11, 2011 issue of Catholic San Francisco.