The following is from a statement by the California Catholic Conference:

Today marks the beginning of the Lenten Season, a time when Christian people devote ourselves more intentionally to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy in an earnest effort to reform our lives in the image of Jesus Christ. We use this occasion to call upon Catholics and all people of good will in California and throughout the United States to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable and excluded in our society.  Urgent attention needs to be given to our neighbors who are migrants and refugees, especially those immigrants who are undocumented. They are being unjustly targeted and vilified.

As pastors, we witness firsthand every day the fear in our communities. We call upon the new Administration and Congress in Washington to do everything in their power to ease the climate of fear that is now gripping our communities. It is long past time for our leaders to stop allowing this issue to be used for political advantage and set themselves to the task of fixing our broken immigration system. The principles and priorities for immigration reform are well-known and they are reasonable. We urgently need reforms in our visa and guest worker programs. We need reforms that keep families together and recognize that those who are detained already have the legal right of due process. We need to provide those who are here and contribute to our economy and society but without documentation an immediate path to regularize their status with an eye to one day becoming citizens.

Some concrete measures are already under consideration. In Congress, the Federal BRIDGE Act, S.128/H.R, 496, for instance, will protect DACA students (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). In Sacramento, the California Values Act, SB 54, would protect the safety and well-being of all Californians by ensuring that state and local resources are not used to assist in deportations that would separate families.

The Catholic bishops of California and the United States support the federal government’s obligation to protect our borders and to uphold our immigration laws. We also hold that these legal principles should always be at the service of human dignity and the common good of society.  The current immigration system is gravely flawed.  And because it is gravely flawed, the current push to increase enforcement and deportations — without first reforming the underlying system — can only lead to further violations of human rights and human dignity.

Full story at California Catholic Conference.