Survey finds strong Catholic support for immigration changes

Washington D.C., Apr 27, 2013 / 01:09 pm (CNA).- A survey commissioned by the U.S. bishops finds that almost 80 percent of Catholics support legal changes that allow immigrants to gain “earned citizenship” through meeting certain requirements.

“It is clear that Catholics understand the importance of this issue,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, said April 19 in response to the poll.

“As an immigrant church, Catholics from all walks of life understand the migration experience and accept the Gospel’s call to welcome the stranger.”

The survey, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, found that 77 percent of U.S. Catholics support citizenship for immigrants who fulfill requirements like registration, paying a fine, paying taxes, and taking English classes.

Eighty-four percent of respondents agree that requiring immigrants to register with the government in order to remain in the country would improve national security.

Another 75 percent of respondents said immigration law enforcement should be focused on “humane values” that deport violent criminals but “finds ways to work with people who have come to find a better life.”

Most respondents said that border security and humane treatment of illegal immigrants are compatible and most agree that the Church has an obligation to help those in need, even if they are illegal residents. Additionally, most believe that immigrants are good for the economy, and most thought that enforcement-only policy focused on deportations is bad for family unity.

Sixty percent of Catholics who attend Mass weekly or more said that the immigration issue is very important to them.

The Catholic bishops have endorsed changes to immigration law, such as allowing an expansive “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants and expanding legal migration for low-skilled migrant workers.

Archbishop Gomez encouraged Catholics to ask their legislators to support “humane” immigration reform, saying this would “help our brothers and sisters come out of the shadows and become full members of our communities.”

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