With Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, I express gratitude and hope now that the justices of the United States Supreme Court have struck down the provisions of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 that would have allowed "warrantless arrests of people suspected of an offense that is deportable, that would have made it a crime to seek work in the state and that would have made undocumented presence a state crime."
We bishops of the United States have a long history of supporting humane, comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level. Our reasons for this support include the inalienable, God-given rights that every human being enjoys as well as the importance of family unity. I believe that the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Arizona’s SB1070 will go a long way toward helping our immigrant community by alleviating some of their fears and allowing them to support themselves as they assist our country by providing necessary labor.
I also join Archbishop Gomez in expressing concern that the injunction was lifted against SB1070’s provision 2(B), which "could lead to the separation of families and undermine the Church’s ability to minister to the immigrant population," as Archbishop Gomez stated. This provision requires state law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of people who are detained, if they suspect the detainees are in the country illegally.
The court leaves open the door to striking down this provision as unconstitutional, which is a positive development, but in the meantime I’m worried about the people who might be racially profiled by local law enforcers. In addition, I believe this provision puts local law enforcement officers in an untenable position by creating a chasm between the community and the local police.
I support my brother bishops in the dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson as they seek to minister to their flocks. My prayers are with them and all the people of Arizona. I also pray that, as legislators in Utah and other states continue to discuss immigration legislation, the laws they consider will not in any way push immigrants into the shadows nor trample on their God-given human rights. Even more importantly, I hope that our state legislators keep in mind that only the federal government can ultimately provide for humane, comprehensive immigration reform.