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2007 CODALC Meeting, Lima

2005 Meeting
Voices of the

CODALC website

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Latin American

United Nations
New York

Dominican Perspectives on Latin America and the Caribbean

Cardinal Rigali is the head of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, PA
January, 2006

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill concerning
immigration policy. Among its provisions, H.R. 4437 makes all
undocumented immigrants criminals; removes due process protection to
asylum seekers and refugees, including children; and mandates the
detention of families and other vulnerable groups along our border. It
also subjects humanitarian workers, including Church workers, to five
years in prison simply for providing basic needs assistance, such as
food and water, to an undocumented immigrant.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, issued this
statement on immigration reform legislation currently in Congress.

This week the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, along with the Catholic
Church throughout the United States, celebrates "National Migration
Week," which recognizes the contributions of immigrants and refugees
to the Church and our nation. Here in Philadelphia, newcomers have
helped revitalize our city by bringing energy and industry to our city
neighborhoods. Nationally, immigrants, refugees, and other new arrivals
have, over the past 100 years, infused new ideas, skills and culture
into our country, making it the great nation it is today.

Congress, with the support of President Bush, should seek to repair our
broken immigration system by enacting comprehensive immigration
legislation that reforms all aspects of our nation's immigration
system, not simply law enforcement. Such legislation should propose an
earned legalization program for the 11 million undocumented persons in
the country. Earned legalization is not amnesty because the proposal
requires immigrants to work for up to six years before applying for
legal permanent residency. The bill should include a temporary worker
program, which would provide legal channels for migrant workers to
migrate in a safe, legal and orderly manner; and reductions in family
visa backlogs, which causes family separation for up to 10 years or
more. This approach offers stronger security measures because it
provides an incentive for undocumented immigrants and their families to
"come out of the shadows" and identify themselves to government

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Arlen Specter,
will consider comprehensive immigration reform early this year. Senator
Specter and his colleagues in the Senate have a historic opportunity to
adopt an immigration bill that will fix our broken immigration system
and prepare our nation for migration realities of the twenty first

I urge Senator Specter and the U.S. Senate to reject H.R. 4437 and
adopt a more comprehensive and humane approach to immigration reform. I
also urge Catholics and others of good will to support this approach.

Our nation stands at a critical juncture in its history. Before
venturing down the path of exclusion and intolerance, we must remember
that all of us, except for American Indians, are immigrants or
descendants of immigrants. Together, we can create an immigration system
that reflects our national values, promotes our national security and is
worthy of our great nation, a nation of immigrants.

for more information on Immigration work in Philadelphia contact

Rev. Bill Ayres, Director
Office for Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia PA 19103

215-587-3561 fax

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