June 10, 2013
Statement of Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration
This week the U.S. Senate begins a historic debate on immigration reform legislation. It is an important
time for our country. The outcome of this debate—and of the one to follow in the House of
Representatives—will impact the future of our nation in the twenty-first century and beyond.
The Catholic Church in America has an important stake in the outcome of this debate because we are an
immigrant church, and have grown with the country for over two hundred years. Each day in our
parishes, social service programs, hospitals, and schools we witness the human consequences of a
broken immigration system. Families are separated, migrant workers are exploited, and our fellow
human beings die in the desert. Without positive change to our immigration laws, we cannot help our
brothers and sisters. Simply put, the status quo is morally unacceptable. This suffering must end.
Our nation has a stark choice. We can continue on our current path, which employs an immigration
system that does not serve the rule of law or the cause of human rights, or we can create a system
which honors both principles. We can maintain a system that fosters illegal behavior and undermines
the law, or fashion one that provides incentives for legal behavior and is based upon fairness and
Our nation must answer several questions.
Do we want a country with a permanent underclass, without the same rights as the majority?
Do we want to continue to separate children from parents, creating a generation of young U.S. citizens
who are suspicious and fearful of their government?
Do we want a nation that accepts the toil and taxes of undocumented workers without offering them
the protection of the law?
The answer to these questions, of course, is a resounding no.
I encourage our elected officials to move forward and debate immigration reform in a civil and
respectful way. The U.S. Catholic bishops are committed to working with them to enact humane
immigration reform legislation as soon as possible. In the end, the outcome of this debate will not only
affect our nation’s future—it will impact our soul. Thank you.