Published April 6, 2006
In a statement April 3, Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory and Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah expressed their disappointment that the Georgia General Assembly adopted the immigration-related provisions of Senate Bill 529.
The legislation was sent to Gov. Sonny Perdue at the conclusion of the 2006 Georgia legislative session.
The two Georgia bishops previously issued a pastoral letter in which they expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, including developing an earned legalization process for the undocumented and providing more opportunities for family reunification. They emphasized the human dignity of each person.
In their statement the bishops said SB 529 “does little to meet the needs of our immigrant brothers and sisters or of the state as a whole.”
“As pastors, we hear the fear and anguish of those who seek only to work and support their families whether with documents or without,” they said. “SB 529, unfortunately, does little to meet the needs of our immigrant brothers and sisters or of the state as a whole. The bill is not comprehensive; it is not designed to bring immigrants out of the shadows, shut down the ‘black market’ of smuggling, fake documents or exploitation; restore the rule of law at our borders, workplaces or communities, or encourage those who settle here to get on the path to citizenship.”
The Georgia bishops also said the Catholic Church will continue to provide spiritual and physical help to immigrants, both those legal and those undocumented.
Their statement said:
“To those who must remain in the shadows, the bishops pledge the Church’s continued help in their spiritual and physical needs as enjoined by the Holy Scriptures. The bishops call on the Catholic people and all Georgians of good will to recognize the human dignity of all God’s people in their daily life and in their support of public policy consistent with that dignity.
“The two bishops continue to believe that immigration reform must be addressed comprehensively on the federal level in a manner that respects the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters.
“As they have done through their recent pastoral letter on immigration reform, the bishops continue their support for immigration reform that includes (1) economic and social development that addresses the root causes that force people to migrate, (2) the development of an earned legalization program for the undocumented, (3) expanded legal means for the reunification of families, (4) a temporary worker program that protects foreign and domestic workers alike, and (5) other reforms in due process access and asylum procedures. The federal bill most closely following these principles is now known as the ‘Comprehensive Immigration Act of 2006’ as favorably reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
The bishops’ statement is posted at www.archatl.com. More information on the Justice for Immigrants Campaign is available at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.