By Barbara Grijalva - email
Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - A bit of backlash in the battle over immigration.
Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Gerald Kicanas clarified his congressional testimony where he urged immigration policy reform.
"Some people think that the bishops are teaching amnesty. Well, that's not what the bishops are saying." Kicanas says.
The testimony came last Thursday, and, Kicanas says some are trying to frame it in a way that is not correct.
We talked with the bishop about the position of the U.S. Conference of Bishops on Tuesday.
"First of all, we are not for open borders. We do believe that countries have a right to protect their borders, to secure their borders," Kicanas says.
He testified before Congress on the need for comprehensive immigration policy reform.
Then the phones started ringing at his Tucson office.
He says people are confused about what the bishops want.
He says they want, "A pathway to legalization and that pathway has some demands. To pay fines, that there not be serious criminal background, that they learn English, that they step in line so they're not jumping ahead of people who are in line. So it's an earned pathway."
"Either you have to deport everybody, which is an impossibility, or we have to find a way to bring people out of the shadows. The status quo is just not working," Kicanas adds.
"Some people think the bishops support illegal immigration. Bishops do not support illegal immigration."
Kicanas says an immigration policy that allows people to work legally in the U.S. is what would help secure our borders.
He says it would free up more resources to target drug and weapons traffickers.
The bishop says helping Mexico and other Latin American countries improve their economies would be another part of the solution.
"Many people don't want to leave their culture. They don't want to leave their country, but they're desperate," Kicanas says.
In response to those who think the Roman Catholic Church should not be involved in politics the bishop says the church is not involved in politics on this, or any other issue, but it always has spoken up about public policy.
"And immigration, like abortion legislation, all of these areas of public policy, the church does have a position. And it is a moral position, and that moral position is protecting the dignity of all human life," Kicanas says.
Bishop Kicanas says Arizona's immigration enforcement law, SB 1070, is an expression of the level of frustration in our state, but he says it's not the answer.
He says it will not secure our borders.
Kicanas says comprehensive immigration reform will secure our borders, and that Congress and the president need to act on it now because, he says, "Attitudes are hardening. Divisions are deepening."
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