Letter from the bishops of the Archdiocese of Denver to the immigrant Hispanic community

Archbishop Aquila

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ in the immigrant Hispanic community:

We know that the outcome of the elections this week has raised concerns and fear among some in the Hispanic community, especially for our immigrant brothers and sisters. As your bishops, we want to express our solidarity and affection for you and invite you to trust in God. He is a providential Father and will take care of all of us the same way he protected Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary when they had to migrate to Egypt, carrying their newborn in their arms. The Hispanic Catholics who have migrated to the United States, often under similarly dangerous circumstances, are a gift to our Church and our country.

Certainly, some statements made during the election campaign about the future of the Hispanic immigrant community are worrisome. At the same time, it is important to realize that our Government is not run by one person, but has a system of checks and balances. We also know that the United States of America is a country founded by immigrants on the principles of freedom, respect and opportunity for all. It is also composed of many men and women who share these great human values and possess good hearts. We want to assure you that the Church of northern Colorado is with you and will continue to advocate for these values by pursuing comprehensive immigration reform. A reform that should have happened years ago.

When the people of Latin America were going through moments of insecurity and enduring much loss, God sent his Mother to comfort his ‘’youngest children.” On that occasion at Tepeyac, the Virgin Mary said, “Listen and let it penetrate your heart. Do not be distressed, my littlest son. Let not your heart be troubled … Am I not here, with you, I who am your Mother?”

We ask our Lord that these words from our Mother will now resonate strongly in the heart of our Hispanic community and fill you with strength, confidence, hope, and peace. We also ask that our leaders take to heart the truth that all people – regardless of their status – are God’s children. We entrust you, our leaders, and our archdiocese to Our Lady of Guadalupe, knowing in faith that she is our loving mother.

With our prayers and blessing,
Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver

Most Reverend Jorge Rodríguez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver

COMING UP: Immigration reform needs legislative involvement, archbishop says

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While the United States is in urgent need of immigration reform, changes should be made through the legislative process, Archbishop Samuel Aquila noted in the wake of President Barack Obama’s executive action last week that offered some temporary relief to an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants who live in fear of deportation.

On Nov. 20, the president announced that he would stay the deportation of undocumented immigrant parents for up to three years, and allow them to work legally. To be eligible, the applicants must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, have children who are citizens or legal residents, pass criminal background check and agree to pay taxes.

The archbishop told the Denver Catholic Register that the Church “supports any measure that respects the dignity of the human person.”

“Even though illegal immigrants have failed to observe our immigration laws,” he continued, “they do not lose their God-given dignity as children of the Father. Our laws should reflect this reality, while also allowing for our country to enforce legitimate border controls.”

The archbishop noted, however, that “society is better served when the legislative process operates as it is meant to—meaning all branches of the government have time to review any proposal, debate its merits and make necessary changes.”

“We also need legislators to make decisions and act on legislation even if it is a difficult issue,” he added.

The president said he would also increase border security and continue to deport more recent immigrants who had crossed illegally. His executive action did not grant any path to citizenship for undocumented persons, or give them access to welfare benefits.

“I am deeply joyful for the hundreds of thousands of families who will benefit from this decision of the president,” said Luis Soto, executive director of Centro San Juan Diego and the Hispanic Ministry Office. “Those who will benefit are working families who are only seeking the good of their loved ones. The families won’t fear deportation and the efforts of the government will focus on criminals and not on the separation of families.”

“It’s also bittersweet,” he noted, “because we know that this is not a solution to the immigration crisis in this country. This does not represent status for those who qualify.”

In October 2013, Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs issued a pastoral letter on immigration, which outlines seven key principles to keep in mind for any discussion on immigration reform. That letter can be found at www.archden.org/archbishop. Click on “pastoral letters.”