These goals include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.; an emphasis on family unity though a reduction in backlogs and waiting times for family members; and a program to allow low-skilled migrant workers to enter the U.S. legally and work under safe conditions.
The bishops have also called for due process protections for immigrants and policies that “address the root causes, or push factors, of irregular migration, such as the absence of living wage jobs in sending communities and persecution.”
A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate incorporates many of these goals. However, the bill has faced ardent opposition in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has vowed not to consider the measure but to instead pass a series of smaller, piecemeal bills on immigration.
Archbishop Garcia-Siller expressed doubt that national immigration reform will be passed in the next year.
The subject is a “political game at this point,” he said, predicting that polarized opinions on the topic will prevent a sufficient amount of bipartisan support within Congress.
But even without bipartisan political support for immigration reform, the bishops will continue to work to make the Catholic position on immigration “more known,” Archbishop Garcia-Siller said.
He encouraged Catholics to educate themselves on the facts surrounding immigration, such as the fact that undocumented immigrants do pay taxes and share many common values.
In addition, the archbishop asked the faithful to reach out as individuals and as a group to immigrant communities, and to start “just talking to people who are hurting.”
Archbishop Garcia-Siller also advised immigrants to continue to place an emphasis on education and leadership in order to help encourage “integration into larger society with roots, with values, to contribute positively to the makeup of the U.S.”
“We need many more leaders, but leaders who don't forget about the past, who are very connected to the present, and with something to propose for the future,” he said.