Bishops Support Family Reunification Senate Bill, Not Able to Support Similar House Legislation

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) – Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, expressed the Committee’s support for the Reuniting American Families Act (S. 1085) introduced May 20. He did so in a June 2 letter to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
           
The Act proposes reforms to the family-based immigration system that would allow immigrant families to more quickly reunite in the United States.
           
“Family reunification has represented the cornerstone of the U.S. immigration system, and should remain its central tenet in the future,” Bishop Wester said.  He stressed that the United States “should resist proposals which would erode the family-based immigration system.” 
           
Bishop Wester emphasized the importance of ensuring that the nuclear family stays together. “It is extremely important that barriers that keep the nuclear family—husband, wife and child—divided are removed as soon as possible,” he said, adding that S. 1085 “achieves this goal.”
           
Bishop Wester also issued a second letter indicating that the bishops’ Committee on Migration is not supporting similar legislation in the House.  In a June 2 letter to Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Bishop Wester wrote: “As you know, the USCCB supported H.R. 6638, similar legislation that you introduced during the 110th Congress.  Unfortunately, however, while the bishops support many of the provisions in the Reuniting Families Act, your decision to include in the bill the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would provide marriage-like immigration benefits to same sex relationships, makes it impossible for the bishops to support this year’s version of your bill.”
           
Bishop Wester noted that UAFA “would erode the institution of marriage and family” and called it “a position that is contrary to the very nature of marriage which pre-dates the Church and the state.”  Consequently, he indicated that the Committee is instead offering its strong endorsement to the Senate version.
           
Among other provisions, S. 1085 would enable the immediate relatives (husbands, wives, and children) of legal permanent residents to legally enter the country more quickly; recapture family visas from prior years that were lost to bureaucratic delay; reduce family-visa backlogs from sending countries; and ensure that the widows and orphans of legal permanent residents are able to remain in the United States.

Bishop Wester also said that “Positive changes in the family-based immigration categories, such as those included in S. 1085, should be a central feature of any comprehensive immigration reform effort.”

Full text of the letters are included below.

June 2, 2009

Honorable Robert Menendez
United States Senate
528 Senate Hart Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Menendez:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, I write to offer our support for S. 1085, the Reuniting American Families Act.  The legislation would make important and long overdue changes to the family-based immigration system, ensuring that families are reunited in an efficient and timely manner.

Family reunification has represented the cornerstone of the U.S. immigration system, and should remain its central tenet in the future.  Throughout U.S. history, immigrant families have helped build our nation by starting businesses, strengthening local communities, and helping to integrate their members and others into American society.  In our view, our country should enhance opportunities for families to remain together and should resist proposals which would erode the family-based immigration system.

Despite our nation’s traditional emphasis on family immigration, too often our current system keeps families apart for years.  S. 1085 would improve the family-based immigration system by removing the annual cap on the number of visas which allow immediate family members to reunite with legal permanent residents.  It is extremely important that barriers that keep the nuclear family—husband, wife, and child—divided are removed as soon as possible.  The legislation achieves this goal while preserving the ability of other close family members, including siblings of United States citizens, to reunite with their loved ones and without eroding the institution of marriage and family.

The USCCB strongly believes that the U.S. immigration system should be reformed.  Positive changes in the family-based immigration categories, such as those included in S. 1085, should be a central feature of any comprehensive immigration reform effort.  

We applaud your introduction of this legislation and will work to help get it enacted into law. 

Sincerely,

Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

 

June 2, 2009

Honorable Mike Honda
United States House of Representatives
1713 Longworth House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Honda:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration, I write to offer our views on the Reuniting Families Act, which you have indicated you will introduce in the 111th Congress.  As you know, the USCCB supported H.R. 6638, similar legislation that you introduced during the 110th Congress.  Unfortunately, however, while the bishops support many of the provisions in the Reuniting Families Act, your decision to include in the bill the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which would provide marriage-like immigration benefits to same sex relationships, makes it impossible for the bishops to support this year’s version of your bill.

Family reunification has represented the cornerstone of the U.S. immigration system, and should remain its central tenet in the future.  Throughout U.S. history, immigrant families have helped build our nation by starting businesses, strengthening local communities, and helping to integrate their members and others into American society.  In our view, our country should enhance opportunities for families to remain together and should resist proposals which would erode the family-based immigration system.  That is why we so strongly supported H.R. 6638 during the 110th Congress.  However, including UAFA in the Reuniting Families Act would erode the institution of marriage and family by according marriage-like immigration benefits to same sex relationships, a position that is contrary to the very nature of marriage which pre-dates the Church and the state. 

As a result of your decision to include UAFA in your 111th Congress version of the Reuniting Families Act, the bishops have instead strongly endorsed S. 1085, the Senate version of the Reuniting Families Act.  Introduced in the Senate by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), S. 1085 would improve the family-based immigration system by removing the annual cap on the number of visas which allow immediate family members to reunite with legal permanent residents.  It is extremely important that barriers that keep the nuclear family—husband, wife, and child—divided are removed as soon as possible.  The legislation achieves this goal while preserving the ability of other close family members, including siblings of United States citizens, to reunite with their loved ones and without eroding marriage and family.

Despite our nation’s traditional emphasis on family immigration, too often our current system keeps families apart for years. The USCCB strongly believes that the U.S. immigration system should be reformed.  Positive changes in the family-based immigration categories, such as those included in S. 1085, should be a central feature of any comprehensive immigration reform effort.

We applaud your long commitment to reforming the United States family-based immigration system and stand ready to work with you to achieve urgently needed reforms to that system.  We do not, however, support providing marriage-like benefits to same-sex relationships.  Consequently, we cannot support the version of the Reuniting Families Act that you are contemplating introducing in the 111th Congress.

Sincerely,

Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City, Utah
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration (443)

Incoming search terms:

  • family reunification bill of honda in us congress
George Vogt (3725 Posts)


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Bishops Support Family Reunification Senate Bill, Not Able to Support Similar House Legislation”

  1. It really astounds me every time a religious person refuses to accept a gay, loving relationship. I am a US citizen living in Europe because I cannot live with my same-sex partner in the US.

    We want equal rights and we want it now! My gay marriage and my ability to immigrate my same-sex partner to the USA will have NOTHING to do with you.

    Stop hiding behind the veil of religion to continue to HATE others. What would Jesus say to you? How can you pretend to be religious while at the same time working as hard as you can to exclude a segment of humanity?

    How do you look at yourself in the mirror everyday? Probably because you are trying to deflect attention from the fact that you are a closeted gay person yourself.

    The church’s handling of the LGBT community is SHAMEFUL. In the future, the church will look back at themselves and hang their head in shame. Just the same way today churches are ashamed of their stance on slavery and civil rights for African Americans.

    Its truly amazing that more people on this planet have died throughout history due to religion than any other factor.

    Don’t forget we have the separation of church and state in the US. You keep your nose our of law and they should keep their nose out of your tax-exempt business that continues to strive and alienate and attack a segment of humanity–LGBT citizens of this world.

  2. Muhammad Atique says:

    I knew it ,that barriers like this will come up again this year and all of this will fail once more, yet another year wasted in the lives of lpr families. It seems like a game to the politicians. One politician introduces something , other introduces something else, they contradict on some ground and every thing else is left behing. Please stop playing with lpr’s emotions, it really hurts and doesn’t help our situation at all.

    good luck to all.

  3. Kelly Snyder says:

    Is the Most Reverend John C. Wester aware that in the United States, there exists a SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE? The Uniting American Families Act has no provision in it requiring the Catholic Church to abandon its centuries old prejudices and persecution of gays and lesbians. So why is it that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops thinks it has a right to meddle in the United States Government policy on immigration?

    The Catholic Church needs to deal with the logs in its own proverbial eye rather than making a fuss over the splinters in the eyes of others. It is exactly this kind of bigotry and hypocrisy that has driven thousands of people out of the Catholic Church. Jesus wept.

  4. Randy says:

    There they go again. The church’s anti-family attitude continues to expand equality for those they hate, while at the same time diminishing their own church’s image. By all means, proceed.

  5. Vitaliy Smirnoff says:

    Dear Atique,

    You speak of not toying with your emotions, saying it really hurts. Well, how do you think we feel, American gay men and women in relationships with foreigners? Some of us are forced to live abroad, others have to worry that our loved ones’ visas will not be renewed for one reason or another. Do you think it is fair to us? While the Catholic church chooses to ignore that we have families too, we do exist. And we do hurt. Not just from the inability to live like all the other citizens of the US, but also as a result of church’s words, like those above.

    “Do to your neighbor as you would have him do to you.” Isn’t that what Jesus said? It would be good if the church listened to him.

  6. Chad Simpson says:

    As I say time and time again, EVERYTHING the Church teaches (notice I didn’t say everything someone representing the Church says or teaches I said everything the Church teaches) is done with the intent of helping us reach Heaven. I am a sinner! Let me repeat, I am a sinner! So is everyone else who posts on this sight. The Church does not oppose nor hate homosexuals. The Church understands that homosexuality is a cross that is carried by a large number of people. It can not and will not accept homosexual marriage simply because it is not part of God’s design. Since gay “marriage” does not exist in the eyes of God, and since sex outside of marriage is a sin, the Church simply will not encourage sin, period! If homosexuals want to live together chastely, no problem. Homosexuals single themselves out by distorting Church teachings instead of educating themselves on why the Church teaches what it does. I am a convert to the faith. I struggled for years with the Church’s teachings on contraception until I decided to take the attitude of a student rather than dismissing everything as antiquated doctrine. Please pray to God that he will shower you with his graces so that you may more fully understand his plan. Also, please research John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. You are right that Jesus is accepting of homosexuals but Jesus also would preach to you to repent.

  7. A.S. Gwilliam says:

    Dear Chad, Thank you for your efforts to explain the Catholic Church’s position on this topic – you did a fine job. However,it’s totally hopeless to try and make them understand; they are looking through a lens of self centered distortion and not through the lens of clarity in truth as our Holy Father reiterated in his just released encyclical. All we can really do is pray for them. God Bless.

Leave a Reply

Hide me
Sign up below to have the hottest Catholic news delivered to your email daily!
Enter your email address:
Show me