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Statement by Bishop Raica regarding Immigration


June 20, 2018

My brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Gaylord,

Grace and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ!

The immigration question seems to be weighing heavily on our national conscience lately. Like many of you, I’m trying to make my way through the intense rhetoric heard from a variety of different viewpoints in order to find a serene, reasoned way forward. Back in 2011, the Bishops of Michigan issued a Joint Statement regarding Immigration through the auspices of the Michigan Catholic Conference. I was not a bishop then. Nevertheless, after reading the statement, I happily join my name as a bishop signatory to it. It is a good statement. It remains as relevant today as it did then. It identified key components and called for comprehensive immigration reform in our nation.

From my own personal reflection on this pressing issue, I pray that we can dial down the volume of political rhetoric and finger pointing, roll up our sleeves and tackle this social and human problem for the good of our nation and all humanity. As a nation built on “welcoming the stranger” in our midst, it should be easier to solve the issue of human migration than trying to put a man on the moon. We are, after all, part of one human family with hopes and dreams forming a dynamic mosaic of life on our planet. Whether we are welcoming families and children at our national borders or welcoming children in the wombs of mothers, we are fundamentally dealing with a pro-life issue in its widest and broadest sense. Having said that, I willingly join my brother bishops and people of good will calling for a serious consideration of comprehensive immigration reform that balances the human and national interests. Using the plight of people as a tool for political gain or party advantage is patently wrong. When human lives and the common good are at stake, we must resolve this issue as a matter of national priority. The federal legislative paralysis has continued far too long!

As one bishop said, “We don’t make America great by making America mean!” I wholeheartedly agree. We are better than that. Therefore, I urge our federal legislators in the House and the Senate to rise above partisan ideology and political gain to craft meaningful, sound and reasonable legislation to solve the immigration and refugee issue once and for all -- for today and for future generations. That would exemplify true statesmanship at its highest level! We are a nation of laws. At the same time, we must demonstrate clearly to the world that we are also a nation with a compassionate heart to “welcome the stranger” in our midst. At the end of the day, this is a gesture of human solidarity with those who seek a better life while, at the same time, providing for the safety and security of our citizens. In that way, we will enhance the good order of our society as we seek the common good.

Please join me in praying for those families and children most affected by our broken immigration system and for speedy resolution to welcome the stranger in our midst.

Invoking the prayerful intercession of the Holy Family who, shortly after the birth of our Lord, migrated to Egypt for reasons of safety and security, I remain

                                                                        Sincerely yours in Christ,

                                                                        Most Reverend Steven J. Raica


PS: Below is the previous statement of the Bishops of Michigan regarding the social issue of immigration to further elaborate my point of view. 



Michigan Roman Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Immigration

July 19, 2011


We, the Roman Catholic Bishops in Michigan, bring our voices as teachers of the faith to the ongoing public debate over immigration policy. We do so with deep concern about the effectiveness of the nation’s immigration system and the lack of a consistent federal policy that addresses the common good for all peoples in the country.

We support the positive impact migrant communities have made in our country, and especially in our state. We recognize the right of our country to regulate its own borders to control immigration. We believe that borders must be regulated with justice and mercy as people have a God-given right to migrate when necessary to sustain their lives and their families. We empathize with those children born in the United States who later see their parents deported while the children are still minors. We realize that an ineffective immigration system has in some places and at some times led to negative ramifications, such as increased crime and a proliferation of the drug trade.

While these national immigration problems must be resolved, it is unfair and mistaken to blame the undocumented for problems more accurately attributed to a failed policy. The federal government has the responsibility to enact and enforce laws that treat migrant peoples with the same dignity as its native-born citizens. As such, there must be a concerted effort to find a pathway toward citizenship for undocumented persons who live here, who work here, have raised a family here and have contributed to the common good.

Because Congress has yet to develop a comprehensive immigration policy, the reality is that state legislatures are attempting to address this issue. We acknowledge the state’s authority to enact its own legislation; however, continued failure at the federal level to enact comprehensive immigration reform does not mean that the state should pursue policies more appropriately addressed by national immigration authorities and the United States Congress.

Should our state policy-makers debate immigration legislation we, as moral leaders and teachers of faith, believe any proposed measure must strive to:

Uphold the human dignity of all persons and work against any injustice which would compromise the dignity of immigrants.
Promote and give priority to the reunification of families.
Recognize the rich contribution to the community by those immigrants and migrants who work and live here.

As the national immigration debate lingers, we encourage all Catholics to turn to the rich and long-standing teachings of the Church on immigration and the proper dignity that must be afforded to all human persons. I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35). We encourage members of the Michigan Legislature to reject measures that impugn immigrants—especially the undocumented; and we encourage the Michigan congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. to contribute to federal efforts that seek to fix the nation’s immigration system.

Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit

Most Reverend Bernard A. Hebda
Bishop of Gaylord

Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley
Bishop of Grand Rapids

Most Reverend Paul J. Bradley
Bishop of Kalamazoo

Most Reverend Earl A. Boyea
Bishop of Lansing

Most Reverend Alexander K. Sample
Bishop of Marquette

Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone
Bishop of Saginaw

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