STATEMENT ON IMMIGRATION

November 7, 1996

            “For the Lord your God…renders justice for the orphans and the widows, and welcomes the foreigners, feeding and clothing them.  So you must welcome the foreigners, for you were once foreigners yourselves.”  (cf. Dt. 10:17-19.)

            The moral test of any society is how it treats its weakest members.  Certainly, legal and illegal immigrants are among the poorest and most vulnerable in Iowa today.

            As immigrants and refugees migrate to Iowa in search of a better future for themselves and their families, our Judeo-Christian tradition obliges us to “welcome the foreigner” with compassion, hospitality, and justice.  The Iowa Catholic Conference is particularly concerned about the growing prejudice against people with different cultures, languages, and colors of skin.

            Recent changes in immigration laws and reforms in the welfare system raise serious questions about the treatment of immigrants and the pursuit of the common good.

            Welfare reform should promote human life and dignity, invest in poor families, strengthen family life, encourage and reward work, build public-private partnerships to overcome poverty, and provide a safety net for the poor and forgotten.

            Aware of the undignified treatment of certain workers in Iowa, most recently at some meat packing plants, the Iowa Catholic Conference recommends:

  • All workers should be given due process.
  • All employers should be responsible for employee benefits and safe working conditions.
  • Government should provide economic incentives only to employers who provide a just living wage, a safe workplace, and adequate employee benefits, especially health care benefits.

            The Iowa Catholic Conference supports the basic human rights of legal and illegal immigrants and refugee workers to fair treatment under the law, to a just living wage, to safe working conditions, and to careful treatment of their children and families.