WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops expressed reservations about a immigration reform bill to be debated in the Senate next week, but added that they are in favor of continuing the legislative process.
Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, released a statement today on the compromise immigration proposal that was unveiled Thursday in Washington, D.C.
If adopted, the bill would grant legal status to the some 12 million immigrants now living illegally in the United States, while allowing them to apply for residency visas, and eventually citizenship. However, those working in the United States legally with temporary worker visas would have to leave the country in two years.
The proposed legislation would also give skilled, educated workers priority consideration for residency visas, as opposed to the current system which gives precedence to family members of U.S. citizens.
Bishop Barnes said: "Congress should ensure that any final legislation contains a legalization program which is workable and includes family unity and a fair and realistic path to citizenship, a new worker program which provides participants a meaningful opportunity to obtain permanent residency and the preservation of family unity as an integral part of the U.S. immigration system.
"We intend to pursue changes in these important areas."
He added, "We look forward to working with our elected officials in Congress to enact a law which both protects the basic human rights and dignity of persons and serves our national interest."