STATEMENT ON AMNESTY
IOWA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
May 24, 2000

As we reflect on the year 2000 as a “year of Jubilee”, the Iowa Catholic Conference calls on the Congressional delegation from Iowa to work toward the enactment of a new federal amnesty program.

The number of undocumented persons in Iowa has grown steadily since the last amnesty program of the 1980’s. Immigrants come to Iowa in search of a better life for themselves and their families. But most of them live without any possibility of gaining legal residency or US citizenship. They live in constant fear of arrest and deportation, which would mean loss of their jobs and separation from their families. And they suffer from additional hardships based on discrimination, such as racial profiling.

We would like to suggest that immigrants be recognized for the positive strengths that they bring to our state. Iowa needs immigrants. They enrich our communities. They contribute to the Iowa economy. They add diversity to our lives. They have become a part of our schools, parishes and communities. We know them as people who tend to work hard, exude strong moral character and live simple and productive lives. They are our neighbors and friends, our classmates and co-workers.

As we stated in a 1996 statement of the Iowa Catholic Conference, “our Judaeo-Christian tradition obliges us to welcome the foreigner with compassion, hospitality and justice.” We hope that the Congressional delegation from Iowa will join us in working toward a new federal amnesty program which would offer new opportunities for Iowa’s immigrants.

May 2000