Jesuit Conference of the United States urging broader legislation

H.R. 4437: A Senseless Approach to Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON, December 12, 2005 – On Wednesday, the House of Representatives is expected to debate “The Border and Immigration Enforcement Act of 2005.” Americans who favor comprehensive immigration reform that will better secure both our borders and basic human rights must act now and demand Congress fix the senseless solutions of H.R. 4437.

We have tried to find justice merely through enforcement. During the last ten years, the United States spent $25 billion and tripled the number of border patrol agents to address a growing immigration crisis. With the current situation worsening, no one tries to argue that the previous effort was successful. However, H.R. 4437 is saying to America we just need more of the same failed policies.

Justice can only be measured by the dignity afforded every man, woman and child, by the safeguards we as a society place on that dignity and by the economic opportunities we offer each family within our borders. The conscience of America – a nation built by dispersed peoples from around the world seeking a second chance – calls for a compassionate response, an alternative that protects workers from abuse and employers from sudden, drastic labor shortages.

Through criminalization, provisions to strip citizenship and restricting rights to judicial review, H.R. 4437 abandons compassion. By expanding the definition of smuggling to include anyone who aids or transports an undocumented immigrant, the legislation also asks Americans to ignore the humanitarian call of the Good Samaritan. It outlaws the very act of driving to the hospital with a man who may have been injured while laboring to keep fresh vegetables in our stores.

Were the United States to adopt the comprehensive reform advocated by the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, we could better protect our country. Earned legalization is a practical response to the serious adverse effect of eliminating 11 million laborers from the U.S. economy, nearly five percent of the workforce, without any means of replacement. Inviting people out of the shadows of American life relieves our enforcement agencies of the burden of tracking millions of individuals and enables them to better focus on tracking down the small percentage of those entering America intent on smuggling people, drugs or weapons.

We welcome a continued discussion rooted in dignity and human rights and join with all who cherish humanity in calling for practical and comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders and extends hope to those most in need. For the Society of Jesus, His words ring ever true, “As long as you did this for one of the least of my brothers or sisters, you did it for me.”

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