Americans are justifiably frustrated and angry with our outdated and broken immigration system. The problem is complex, and a comprehensive, national solution is necessary. The United States needs a fair, practical solution that addresses the underlying causes of unauthorized immigration and creates a new, national legal immigration system for the 21st century.
The primary reasons people migrate are to seek employment, loss of safe habitat or livelihood due to climate change, or to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, or natural or human-made disasters.
Many commonly-held beliefs about immigrants, legal immigration, and our U.S. laws are myths. This results in scapegoating the very immigrants who undergird our economy.
The principles of Catholic Social Teaching include the scriptural call to welcome the stranger among us – including immigrants seeking work, a safe home, education for their children, and a decent life for their families. It impels us to stand those who are vulnerable, to uphold everyone's fundamental right to life and the necessities of life, including the right to work and to be treated fairly at work.
The current state of terror for families is evidence that our political system has not adequately addressed the demand for labor, the inadequacies of our present immigration policies and practices, and the broader economic challenges.
create legal avenues for workers and their families who wish to enter our country and work in a safe, legal, and orderly manner with their rights fully protected,
develop border protection policies that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect,
allow authorities to carry out the critical task of identifying and preventing entry of terrorists and dangerous criminals, as well as pursuing the legitimate task of implementing American immigration policy, and,
address the root causes of migration.
A Path to Citizenship
Most undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for nearly 15 years but have no legal channel available for becoming a U.S. citizen. A majority of Americans support a path to citizenship for immigrants who are currently undocumented (Source: Morning Consult/Politico). Congress must enact legislation that provides such a pathway for the estimated 11.1 million undocumented Americans living in fear to come out of the shadows. A pathway to citizenship would keep families together, provide those seen as second-class individuals the opportunity to become U.S. citizens, and benefit our nation’s economy.
Over the last two decades, the number of immigrants in detention in the United States has nearly doubled. The detention system now captures and holds as many as 500,000 immigrants each year (Source: Detention Watch Network). This system contributes to the misconception that immigrants are criminals and a threat to our unity, security, and well-being; it engenders despair, divides families, causes asylum-seekers to relive trauma, and fails to treat immigrants with dignity and respect. Currently, for-profit contractors operate 73% of the entire immigrant detention system. The combined lack of transparency and accountability allows these detention centers to continue operating without any fear of having to answer for the inhumane treatment of people in detention.
Part of an effective immigration reform policy is to examine and address the root causes of migration. In 2021, the United Nations estimated that more than 1.4 million people fleeing violence, persecution, and armed conflict around the world are in urgent need of resettlement (Source: UNHCR). We must recognize our nation’s role and policies that exacerbate situations in other countries which make their lives unbearable. We call upon Congress to address the factors driving migrants to make the difficult decision to flee their home countries in search of safety and a better life.
Justice for Immigrants
The Catholic bishops of the United States have committed to immigration reform as a priority of the U.S. Catholic Church, and to creating a culture of welcome in which all migrants are treated with respect and dignity. A diverse group of Catholic organizations have joined the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign to unite in support of immigration reform.
Interfaith Immigration Coalition
The Interfaith Immigration Coalition is a partnership of over 50 national, faith-based organizations committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform that reflects the mandate to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect. Coalition members work together to advocate for just and equitable immigration policies, educate faith communities, and serve immigrant populations around the country.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated to direct service to vulnerable immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees in the United States. Their vision is that all migrants and refugees are protected, embraced, and empowered in a world of just and welcoming communities.
American Immigration Council
The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how Americans think about and act towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring.
Center for Migration Studies
The Center for Migration Studies of New York is a think tank and an educational institute devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees, and newcomers.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)
As the largest charitable legal immigration network in the nation, CLINIC provides substantive legal and program management training and resources, as well as advocacy support at state, local, and national levels. CLINIC also has a team of immigration attorneys who specialize in religious worker immigration law, assisting Catholic archdioceses, dioceses, and religious communities to navigate this complex area of law.