This powerful magnet of available jobs induces the flow of immigrants into this country. Our national immigration policies send mixed signals, with a “keep out” sign hung at the border and a “help wanted” sign at the workplace.
The challenge for lawmakers is to acknowledge that the law itself is inconsistent and then to fix it, first by creating a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States and then creating legal channels for migrants to come and work in a legal, orderly and controlled manner.
To date, the public debate on immigration has been characterized in some measure by misinformation and labeling of immigrants. Words like ‘amnesty,” and “lawbreakers,” and “illegals” have become misleading terms of art which evoke emotional, not intellectual or reasoned, reaction.
Despite the harsh rhetoric, well over half of Americans support a path to citizenship for the undocumented, however it may be labeled. Perhaps we are beginning to realize that all of us, immigrants and citizens alike, have benefitted from forgiveness in our lives.
Hopefully, Congress will move beyond the emotion and include a path to citizenship in any final bill. To do this would serve the long-term national interest and demonstrate that effective policy solutions are based on facts, not rhetoric.
The Most Reverend John C. Wester is the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.