"The Bishops are calling for complete overhauling of the immigration policies of the United States, that would answer not only the question of people coming into our country, but also those that have been here, and to have some kind of a program of legalization,"said Bishop Bernard Harrington of the Archdiocese of Winona.
In addition to Flynn and Harrington, others signing the statement are Bishop Victor Balke of the Diocese of Crookston, Bishop John Kinney of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Bishop John Nienstedt of the Diocese of New Ulm, Bishop Richard Pates of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Bishop Dennis Schnurr of the Diocese of Duluth.
Harrington said the statement recommends reform of the country's employment-based immigration system and due process for all who are here. Federal officials this month arrested over 1,000 undocumented workers at six Swift pork plants, charging some with using stolen identification to get jobs.
"This attacks the dignity of work," Harrington said. "These are people, our brothers and sisters, who provide our food, who support local businesses and communities, who live among us, and who have the dignity of human beings. And, to have their families broken up, and their breadwinners taken away and put in a position of poverty....there's something wrong with that system."
Here is the complete text of the bishops' statement, reprinted from the website of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, www.mncc.org
As the Catholic Bishops of the State of Minnesota, we are distressed and disheartened by the work place raids that took place in Worthington, Minnesota and other communities this past week. To add insult to injury, immigration officials chose the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of the Americas, as the day to target these workers and their families.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers justified these raids as part of their investigation of a largescale identify theft scheme. In fact, few of the workers arrested at the Swift plant in Worthington were charged as perpetrators of the identity theft scheme.
The U.S. and Mexican Catholic bishops have called for an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system.
Criteria for reform include:
- a broad-based earned legalization program (permanent residency) for the undocumented of all nationalities;
- a reform of our family-based immigration system to allow family members to reunite with loved ones in the United States;
- a reform of the employment-based immigration system to provide legal pathways for migrants to come and work in a safe, humane and orderly manner; and,
- a restoration of due process protections for immigrants.
The raids did nothing to advance needed reform. Instead, the raids heartlessly divided families, disrupted the whole community of Worthington and undermined progress that that city had made toward bridging racial and cultural differences.
We call for an end to such raids which violate the rights of workers and the dignity of work. These men and women are our brothers and sisters; as workers, they provide our food; as residents, they support our local businesses and communities. We must always remember that their dignity as human beings must be foremost in our thinking as we address the critical issues surrounding immigration. Our faith calls us to overcome all forms of discrimination and violence so that we may build relationships that are just and loving.
Comprehensive immigration reform, including a broad legalization program, should be a policy priority when Congress meets in the new year.