WASHINGTON, April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A large majority of Catholics support immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, according to a recent survey sponsored by the Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Overall, 77 percent of Catholic voters support a proposal that allows earned citizenship through meeting requirements like registration, paying a fine, paying taxes and taking English classes, the survey shows.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, embraced the results of the survey. "It is clear that Catholics understand the importance of this issue," Archbishop Gomez said. "As an immigrant church, Catholics from all walks of life understand the migration experience and accept the Gospel's call to welcome the stranger."
Most Catholics support the bishops' call for the creation of an immigration system that respects basic human rights and dignity while ensuring the integrity of our borders, according to survey results. As immigration reform takes center stage in the public square, this data makes clear that the Catholic population is behind current efforts to reform the broken immigration system.
Archbishop Gomez called upon Catholics to engage their elected officials on behalf of immigration reform. "I encourage Catholics across the nation to contact their legislators in support of humane immigration reform, which would help our brothers and sisters come out of the shadows and become full members of our communities," he said.
Key findings include:
- Eighty-four percent agreed that requiring undocumented immigrants to register with the government as a condition to remain permanently would improve national security.
- Seventy-five percent said that enforcement of laws should be based upon humane values that deports violent criminals but finds ways to work with people who have come to find a better life.
- Sixty-one percent said that immigrants were good for the economy.
- Sixty percent agreed that an enforcement-only policy featuring deportations has a devastating social impact upon family unity.
- Sixty-nine percent agreed that the U.S. can ensure the safety of our border and treat all people humanely, even those who come illegally.
- Sixty-seven percent agreed that the Church has a moral obligation to help those in need, even if they are here illegally.
- Fifty-seven percent stated that they would cross the border in search of work in order to feed their family.
- Sixty percent of Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more rate this issue as extremely or very important to them.
In their 2003 pastoral letter, "Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined several policy goals for immigration reform, which include:
- A path to citizenship which is achievable and includes the maximum number of persons.
- The protection and enhancement of the family-based immigration system, including the reduction in backlogs and shortening of waiting times for husbands and wives and their children.
- A program which allows low-skilled migrant workers to enter and work in the United States legally and safely and includes appropriate wage and worker protections.
- The restoration of due process protections for immigrants.
- Policies which address the root causes, or push factors, of irregular migration, such as the absence of living wage jobs in sending communities and persecution.
More information can be found at www.justiceforimmigrants.org
SOURCE U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops