Arizona bishops’ statement on SB 1070

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Mark Jenkins, an opponent of Arizona’s immigration law, and Blake Sutherland, who supports it, discuss their views outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in late April. The high court, in a mixed opinion with several dissents, rejected much of the law, known as S.B. 1070. However, it affirmed the section requiring state law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of detainees they suspect are in the country illegally. (CNS photo/Gary Cameron, Reuters)

The following statement was released yesterday by the Arizona Catholic Conference — signed by the five bishops of the State of Arizona — in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on SB 1070:

Many business leaders, community leaders, and religious leaders in our State have indicated from the beginning that SB1070 is not good for our State and not good law in that the federal government not the State holds responsibility to pass and uphold immigration policy.

The Supreme Court decision substantially upheld that viewpoint by invalidating three of four challenged provisions of SB 1070. The Supreme Court did however uphold, at least for the time being, the provision which permits state law enforcement personnel to determine the immigration status of any person stopped, detained, or arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is not lawfully in the United States, and to verify the immigration status of any person arrested before releasing that person.

We believe that this provision of the law will not enhance security, benefit the economy of our State, or foster its well-being. Rather this provision might separate families, create the possibility of racial profiling even if unintended by the law, heighten fear in the immigrant community, jeopardize community policing, and not fix the federal immigration policy which many across the political spectrum have said is broken.

The bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference, along with many others, are convinced that immigration policy is the responsibility of the federal government assuring that there is no great discrepancy throughout the nation on how immigrants are treated.

The Arizona bishops will continue to work with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in advocating for comprehensive immigration policy reform that will address needed border security to protect our nation from drug and human trafficking, provide legal avenues for workers to assist employers in our country, and to resolve the legal status of nearly 12 million law abiding people who now live in the shadows.

The Supreme Court decision places the responsibility on our law enforcement organizations in Arizona to implement the upheld provision of the law responsibly, fairly, and without discrimination.

It is important that people remain calm and know their rights and how to respond appropriately. Our parishes and Catholic social agencies are ready to assist those with questions and concerns.

Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop of Tucson

Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. James S. Wall
Bishop of Gallup

Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. Gerald Dino
Bishop of Holy Protection of Mary Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Phoenix

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