Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Catholics Urged To Contact Legislators This Week

By PRISCILLA GREEAR, Staff Writer | Published March 23, 2006

The leaders of the Justice for Immigrants Campaign, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, are sending a message urging Catholics to contact their U.S. senators this week in support of legislation most closely matching the provisions of the McCain-Kennedy Bill, as the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet the morning of March 27 to make decisions about immigration reform.

The USCCB has endorsed the bipartisan Senate Bill 1033 sponsored by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Edward Kennedy as most closely matching the social justice principles of Catholic social teaching. The McCain-Kennedy Bill calls for an earned pathway to legalization for the undocumented with a $2,000 fine, access to apply for legal permanent residency after working six years, a guest worker program with access to adjusting status, a new mandatory electronic employee verification system and improved border enforcement, among other provisions.

Various other immigration reform bills in the Senate Judiciary Committee have been considered and drawn from in the process of drafting a final bill. The Senate is expected to debate immigration from March 7-April 6. According to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the Senate Judiciary Committee met March 16 and discussed possible provisions for earned legalization for the 11 to 12 million undocumented people currently in the United States and for a guest worker component. According to CLINIC, committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter and committee member Sen. Edward Kennedy came to some agreement for adopting an earned legalization provision for the undocumented as long as there is an explicit provision preventing the undocumented from jumping ahead of anyone already waiting in line to immigrate legally. CLINIC also reports that these two senators came to some agreement about a guest worker program that will require the undocumented to depart the United States for a year and then return, but also includes a waiver for employees who have a certain degree of necessity to the functioning of a business.

Those working for social justice in the Atlanta Archdiocese encourage Catholics to contact their U.S. senators and ask them to support comprehensive immigration reform including the earned legalization and guest worker programs.

The Atlanta Archdiocese joins the Justice for Immigrants Campaign in calling for a realistic solution through national comprehensive reform and has opposed the Georgia Senate Bill 529, the Georgia Immigration Security and Compliance Act, passed by the Senate and expected to be passed by the House of Representatives of the Georgia General Assembly before the session ends by the end of March. SB 529 bars immigrants from receiving most public benefits except K-12 education, emergency health care and other specified exclusions. It requires them to sign an affidavit affirming lawful presence in the United States before receiving any other public benefit service, with eligibility verified through a Department of Homeland Security program. And this bill would require verification of the legal status of anyone booked into jail for a felony or charged with a DUI offense, among other measures.

The senators from Georgia can be contacted via telephone or e-mail, as follows.

Sen. Johnny Isakson’s local office can be reached at (770) 661-0999 or at

Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s local office can be reached at (770) 763-9090 or at

Information about both senators is available at

A template for e-mailing the senators is also available at the Justice for Immigrants Web site,

State legislators can be identified through