As talk of reform continues, lawmakers must focus on creating humane policies that serve the common good – immigrants and host communities alike.
Speaker John Boehner has called on his Republican colleagues in the House to revisit the issue of immigration reform and to draft a list of principles with which to move forward.
Immigration has been a hot topic in US politics over the past decade, when talk of reforming the system first started to spring up. But in spite of repeated efforts to tackle on the issue, the net result has yielded no change to the nation’s immigration laws.
During that time, the U.S. bishops’ conference has released a number of statements concerning immigration reform. One letter, entitled “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope” – a document which was coauthored with the Mexican bishops’ conference – lists five criteria derived from Catholic social teaching on ethical immigration reform:
1.Persons have the right to find opportunities in their homeland.
2.Persons have the right to migrate to support themselves and their families.
3. Sovereign nations have the right to control their borders.
4.Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.
5.The human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected.
The common link between all these criteria is the focus on the good of the human person – the humane treatment of immigrants, the provision of opportunities for people to be able to sustain themselves and their families, and the right of nations to secure their borders in order to preserve public safety. Key among these principles is the defense of the family; any immigration laws or enforcement efforts that lead to the breakup of families undermine society’s most basic and foundational unit, and are to be avoided.
As the talk of immigration reform continues, these are the things that ought to be in the minds of lawmakers as they work to craft a law that will truly exemplify “liberty and justice for all.”
Alberto González is the Associate Editor of Aleteia’s English edition. His prior endeavors have included working in political campaigns and in the United States Senate. He also maintains an active schedule as a liturgical vocalist and organist.
A native of California, Alberto graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2010 with a B.A. in Music and Political Science. He currently lives in the greater Washington, D.C. area.