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Health Prog. 2005 Jan-Feb;86(1):14-7.

Toward immigration reform.

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Migration and Refugee Services, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC, USA.


For the most part, immigrants in the United States do not have access to the very safety-net benefits supported by their taxes, nor to essential due-process rights, simply because they are not citizens or legal residents. Contemporary demographics of immigration and post-9/11 security concerns have colored our traditional hospitality as a nation of immigrants and made life more difficult for immigrants. The Catholic Church has a rich history of scriptural and social teaching that addresses the question of immigration. Stories of forced migration in the Pentateuch led to commandments regarding strangers and the responsibility to be welcoming. In the New Testament, we see that the Holy Family themselves were refugees. The Gospel of St. Matthew tells us that we will be judged by the way we respond to migrants and others in need. In Exsul Familia, Pope Pius XII reaffirms the commitment of the church to care for pilgrims, aliens, exiles, and migrants. In Ecclesia in America, Pope John Paul II states that the ultimate solution to illegal immigration is the elimination of global underdevelopment and that, in the meantime, the human rights of all migrants must be respected. In 2003, the bishops of Mexico and the United States jointly issued the pastoral letter Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope. In this letter, the bishops say that U.S. immigration policy should protect the human rights and dignity of immigrants and asylum seekers. The bishops also offer a number of proposed public policy responses toward that end. To advance the principles contained in Strangers No Longer, the bishops have decided to mount a national campaign designed to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic organizations and individuals, as well as others of good faith. In addition, the campaign will seek to dispel myths and misperceptions about immigrants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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