U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Committee on Migration, "Statement of Most. Rev. Gerald R. Barnes," January 25, 2007
Gerald R. Barnes, Bishop of San Bernardino, California, was the chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration during the congressional debates on the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007." Although the bill enjoyed the bi-partisan sponsorship of Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain, as well as the support of President George W. Bush, the Act was defeated due to heavy criticism from both sides of the political divide. In particular, opponents of the bill criticized it for providing a possible path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. In this statement from early 2007, Bishop Barnes calls on Congress to work for the passage of comprehensive immigration legislation, insisting that the problem of illegal immigration is a humanitarian issue that requires a just and compassionate response.
As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:
- Why does Barnes think that Congress needs to enact immigration reform? What does he say about the role of the states in immigration policy?
- What does Barnes think is the "moral matter" at stake in the immigration reform debate?
- The U.S. Catholic bishops wanted certain specific elements included in the bill. Which of these elements do you think was the most controversial?