By Catholic News Service
PHOENIX (CNS) — Arizona’s Catholic bishops commended a July 28 ruling that blocked enforcement of the most controversial sections of the state’s contentious immigration law a day before it takes effect.
They also voiced a hope “that reaction to (the) ruling will be expressed only in peaceful and legal ways.”
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony also praised the ruling. “This entire Arizona attempt to deal with various immigration issues outside federal law reveals once again the level of frustration across the country that the U.S. Congress will not deal with the pressing issue of needed immigration reform,” he said.
“Without needed congressional action, local communities and states will continue to propose stopgap measures which do not address all aspects of needed immigration reform,” he added.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton blocked provisions in that law, known as S.B. 1070, that would have: required law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of anyone stopped; made it a crime for immigrants not to carry proof of their immigration status at all times; allowed police to make warrantless arrests over suspicion of someone being in the country illegally; and criminalized the act of looking for work without the proper paperwork or hiring someone who lacks a work permit.
Bolton’s injunction is preliminary, pending further judicial review of legal challenges, primarily that of the U.S. Department of Justice. A full course of legal challenges could take years.
Other provisions were allowed to take effect, including one permitting lawsuits against individuals, state agencies and political subdivisions for “adopting a policy of restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”
“We know that in practically every parish there are families that have been living with the fear and anxiety generated by S.B.1070 that they might be torn apart,” said the bishops’ statement, issued by the Arizona Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the bishops.
“The situation of these families might be that one parent is a citizen and that the other is not in our country legally. Or, the situation might be that some children in the family are citizens and that a brother or sister is not here legally,” they said. “Our hearts go out to these families. We know them to be good people who work hard and who contribute to the economy and to the quality of life of their communities.
The four Arizona bishops include: Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson; Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix; and Bishop James S. Wall of Gallup, N.M., whose diocese includes part of northern Arizona.
Their statement reiterated their support for a federal comprehensive immigration reform law as a way of dealing with immigration-related problems at a national level instead of state-by-state.
“The tragic consequences of the failure of our nation’s political leadership to enact reform of our immigration system have included the deaths of thousands of people,” the Arizona bishops said. “Migrants — women, men, children in desperate circumstances — have died trying to enter our country. U.S. citizens have died because of crimes committed by drug smugglers, people smugglers and weapons smugglers.”
They added that they continue to pray “for those who have died and for their grieving families” and that “our senators and representatives will put aside their partisan divisions and go to work immediately to fix the broken immigration system.”