illegalscrossingfenceThe following comes from a Jan. 10 letter written by Archbishop Jose Gomez in the Los Angeles archdiocese paper, the Tidings.

The Church in the United States is observing National Migration Week, January 5-11.

After a year of debate over comprehensive immigration reform, I get the sense that some people are tired of hearing about the issue. They seem to wish the Church and others would just stop talking about immigration.

But the issues remain urgent for millions of our brothers and sisters, and it will not go away.

In Los Angeles and throughout California and the rest of the country, we face many challenges — the spreading of poverty, material and spiritual; the erosion of the middle class; the breakdown of marriage and the family; abortion, euthanasia, drugs and human trafficking; and the growing fragmentation and polarization of our society — economically, culturally and morally.

But right now, it’s urgent for us to address the daily injustices and offenses to human dignity being caused by our broken immigration system.

As a society, we have come to accept a permanent underclass of men and women who are living at the margins of our society. Members of this underclass perform much of the manual labor and basic services that are essential to our society — caring for our children; building our homes and offices; harvesting the food we eat. They pay many millions in taxes and social security, and yet they have no rights and no security.

In our neighborhoods and parishes we know the reality — that families, especially children, are the ones suffering the most. We hear many arguments and justifications for why our leaders can’t fix this broken system. But nothing they say can answer the tears of a child whose mother or father has been deported or locked in an immigration jail.

Our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that globalization can make us all neighbors — but it can’t make us brothers and sisters. For that we need God. Because if we don’t believe that God is our Father, then we’ll never have any reason to treat others as our brothers and sisters.

That’s why I continue to believe strongly that immigration reform is a spiritual issue — just as much as it is a human rights issue and a family values issue.

Too many Americans today justify the treatment of immigrants — the deportations that break up families, the poor working conditions and the denial of basic rights — on the grounds that these immigrants have violated our country’s laws. “They are getting what they deserve,” the argument goes.

The rule of law is important for the good of society. But God’s law of love calls us always to a higher standard. In God’s eyes, we can never justify being cold or indifferent to the sufferings of others. A person without the “proper papers” remains a child of God, created in his image and likeness, deserving of dignity and our respect….

To read entire letter, click here.