Archbishop Gomez has an op-ed piece in The Washington Post this week, on the topic of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, now being reviewed by the Supreme Court. He bases his comments on the principles of human dignity and the importance of family life, both strong elements of Catholic social teaching.
He offers two arguments against the law:
First, it would create a society that treats foreign–born men and women not as contributors to our American life, but as threats. The Arizona statute permits law enforcement officials to detain a person pursuant to a legal stop if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is undocumented and the person cannot prove otherwise. This encourages a kind of racial “profiling” that is inconsistent with traditional American respect for human dignity and equality before the law. It opens every ethnic minority person to being targeted under even the slightest pretext — such as having a broken tail light. There is no way to tell from the color of a person’s skin whether or not he or she is “documented.” So inevitably, a law like this will cause confusion and injustices not only for undocumented persons, but for U.S. citizens and “legal” immigrants.
Second, upholding the Arizona law would accelerate a disturbing anti-family tendency that we find in our nation’s current enforcement of immigration laws. In recent years, we have witnessed an alarming rise in the number of undocumented parents being seized and forcibly removed and separated from their U.S.-citizen children. Arizona-type laws will only increase the circumstances of a child waiting at home for a parent or parents to care for them, only to never have them arrive. We must retain a deep concern for innocent children and family unity in our immigration policy. If we don’t, we do more than disregard the futures of the 4 million innocent U.S. citizens children living with an undocumented parent or parents. To lose our abiding care for children and families in our law enforcement would signal a deep and unhealthy change in our American character.
He also makes another important point: We shouldn’t be in a place where the legislators of Arizona felt it necessary to consider a law like this one, and if the current administration and Congress would take more seriously the reform of our current “failed immigration system,” they would not have.
Whole piece here.