US Bishops protest against 'repressive' new immigration law

Flag of Arizona

Flag of Arizona

In 90 days, the State of Arizona will begin enforcing a law that criminalizes the entry and residence of undocumented migrants in the state. The law, SB 1070 was signed, on April 23 and is causing apprehension among the thousands of illegal immigrants living in the State of Arizona. The measure taken by Governor Jan Brewer is seen as "the toughest and and most repressive against foreigners" and is considered by local public power as a measure to protect American citizens and as crime prevention.

Archbishop Gerald F Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson, Arizona, is one of the bishops who has expressed its strong disagreement with the new law, calling for prompt action by the General Council of the United States Bishops' Conference. According to a note sent to Fides, Bishop Kicanas reportedly mentioned in his 'Monday Memo,' a publication of the diocesan website, that “the constitutionality of the Act” must be challenged on grounds that many opponents have already addressed. Among the objections to the law (the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act"), the Bishop considers that it “does not address the critical need for border security to confront drug smuggling, weapons smuggling and human trafficking.”

Along with Bishop Thomas J Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, and to Bishop James S Wall, Bishop of Gallup, NM (whose diocese includes part of northern Arizona), Bishop Kicanas called for a veto of the bill and a more comprehensive approach at the federal level in order to solve the problems of immigration.

Even President Obama expressed his reservations about the legislation and asked the Justice Department to examine the implications in the face of civil rights. Moreover, the decision of the Governor of Arizona is considered as direct pressure on the Federal Government to launch the reform of immigration law on a national scale within the year. Arizona, according to recent estimates, is home to at least 500,000 illegal immigrants (out of a national total of about 11 million), most of whom come from Mexico.

Source: Fides