Saturday, August 23, 2008
I didn't came here to break the Law. I came because I need to feed my childrens
Know days the Immigration Law goes beyond morality and decency because they keep families divided, encourage the exploitation of migrants by employers and enable abuse by Anti Immigrants groups and human traffickers.
The bishop in the nation's most heavily Roman Catholic state called on U.S. immigration authorities to stop arresting Undocumented immigrants in mass sweeps in Rhode Island and allow federal agents not to participate if they feel the raids violate Christian teachings.
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, head of the Diocese of Providence, made the request in a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Boston that was published on the diocese's Web site today.
His letter comes during a heated debate over Undocumented immigration in Rhode Island, where authorities recently raided six Rhode Island courthouses and arrested 31 people, mainly Hispanic immigrants who are overwhelmingly Catholic. In a separate raid, ICE agents apprehended 42 suspected Undocumented immigrants in Newport and Middletown.
The letter, signed by 15 priests, urges ICE agents to consider the morality of their actions.
"If their discernment leads them to the conclusion that they cannot participate in such raids in good conscience, we urge them not to do so. If ICE agents refuse to participate in immigration raids in conformity with their faith and conscience, we urge the Federal Government to fully respect the well-founded principles of conscientious objection," the letter said.
In an interview with a Journal reporter today, Tobin said he had invited the pastors to meet about three weeks ago after hearing anecdotally from parishes around the state that many Hispanics were afraid to leave their homes to attend Mass, were shopping at night for fear of being picked up and were not enrolling in school their children, who are American citizens.
"Now when we get involved in that area -- the ability to practice their faith -- that becomes a concern for me right away,'' Tobin said.
He continued that the diocese recognized that some immigrants are here illegally. "But keep in mind many of them are here because the system itself is broken. We've gone two decades... with this current immigration policy that has enabled and allowed this situation to develop.
"People who came here did not come here with the express purpose of breaking the law. They came to make a living for themselves and their families and the government has allowed that to happen ... because of the lax interpretation of immigration laws and the fact that there hasn't been enforcement.''
He added, "I know for sure what Jesus would not do. He would not sweep into a community, gather up large groups of people, separate family members, one from another and deport them to another country. I know for sure he would not do that.''
Later today, ICE spokeswoman Paula Grenier said of Tobin's letter:
"The men and women of ICE have sworn an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and it is a duty and responsibility we take seriously. While we fully intend to continue to enforce the law, I would stress that we do so professionally and with an acute awareness of the impact that enforcement has on the individuals we encounter.
"While we have great respect for Bishop Tobin and his colleagues, we believe their congregations and communities would be better served by helping individuals to comply with the law or working to change those laws rather than asking law enforcement agents not to enforce it."
Earlier this year, Governor Carcieri issued an executive order aimed at cracking down on Undocumented immigration. He said he did so because the federal government has dropped the ball on immigration reform and left state taxpayers to pick up what he said are the considerable costs of Undocumented immigration.
Several R.I. religious leaders decried that order, including Tobin, and asked Carcieri to reconsider it, saying it threatened to ignite widespread vitriol against immigrant communities.
Today, Tobin also said, "I think we need to work toward good laws. But in the meantime, treat people decently.''
Roman Catholic and other faith leaders have repeatedly criticized immigration raids that target migrant workers as opposed to Undocumented immigrants who are violent or commit crimes.