By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Only hours after a federal judge blocked certain provisions in the controversial Arizona immigration law from taking effect, a spokesman for the Arizona Catholic Conference said the bishops are pleased with the decision, but are still hoping for immigration reform on the federal level.
In an interview with the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, said the state’s bishops “commend Judge Susan Bolton for enjoining some of the more problematic provisions of SB 1070,” and “ hope that reaction to her ruling will be expressed only in peaceful and legal ways.”
Judge Bolton handed down her decision yesterday to block some of the more controversial aspects of the law such as sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. Also blocked was a mandate requiring immigrants to carry their papers at all time and for a provision making it illegal for undocumented workers to seek employment in public places. The judge also blocked a provision that would have given police officers with warrants permission to arrest suspected illegal immigrants.
The remainder of the law goes into effect today, but a vow to appeal the ruling by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer promises a long battle ahead for the new state law.
“The bishops are very pleased with the ruling today,” Johnson told CNA. Now that the laws most “problematic” aspects have been “set aside,” he added, “we will continue to watch how the rest of the bill is implemented and also continue to push for what is ultimately needed, and that’s immigration reform on the federal level of a more comprehensive nature.”
The bishops went on to lament the country’s “broken immigration system” and called for renewed efforts in policy reform.
“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. Migrants – women, men, children in desperate circumstances – have died trying to enter our country.”
They added: “U.S. citizens have died because of crimes committed by drug smugglers, people smugglers and weapons smugglers. We pray for those who have died and for their grieving families. And we pray that our senators and representatives will put aside their partisan divisions and go to work immediately to fix the broken immigration system.”
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