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Young, hard-working immigrants an asset to the state and Church

St. Rose Duchesne was an immigrant to the United States. So were St. John Neumann and St. Theodore Guerin.  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was an immigrant, too.

The Church in America has been an immigrant Church since the very beginning. We should not be surprised that some of our greatest saints have been among the people who’ve traveled to America seeking something.

The truth is that the Church in America is made up of immigrants because America is made up of immigrants. Apart from Native Americans, this country has been populated by waves of people who’ve come from Europe and Africa, from Asia and from Latin America. The United States is a place where people have long gathered from everywhere, seeking safety, or prosperity, or liberty.

For more than 200 years, people have come to America to pursue the ideals our nation represents.

Today most people would agree that immigration policy needs to be reformed. The complexity of the immigration process calls for standardization and simplification. Comprehensive reform should be undertaken in a manner that respects the dignity of the human person, the sovereignty of the family and the important realities of national security.

But in addition to immigration reform, our nation, and our state, needs to find ways to ensure that all who have come to America are subject to laws that are just and reasonable. We cannot resolve our immigration problems without laws that respect human dignity and promote human potential.

The Colorado Senate Education Committee heard testimony last week on SB-33, the Colorado ASSET bill. Colorado ASSET provides in-state tuition at state colleges and universities to undocumented Coloradans who have attended and graduated from Colorado high schools and who are seeking to regularize their immigration status.

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I commend the bill’s sponsors, particularly Senators Giron and Johnston, and Representatives Duran and Williams, for promoting a bill that respects the dignity of young, hard-working Coloradans, who, through no fault of their own, live in Colorado illegally. ASSET ensures that Coloradans are equipped to contribute meaningfully to their families, to their communities, and to the civic life of our state.

Opponents of the bill suggest that ASSET will incentivize illegal immigration, or reward people who have violated the law. But the beneficiaries of ASSET are young people, most of whom did not choose to come to Colorado. And they’re people who’ve proven an eagerness to participate in public life. Supporting young people willing to engage in the American promise ensures social stability, economic promise for our state, and a richer public and cultural life.

Colorado ASSET will not solve the immigration problems in our country. Immigration law requires comprehensive and serious reform. But ASSET will help.

We need more American saints. We need a new generation of Nuemanns and Cabrinis. Education is always a step in the right direction.

Colorado ASSET will help form minds and help form people to be good citizens. It may also help to form the next generation of America’s immigrant saints.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila is the eighth bishop of Denver and its fifth archbishop. His episcopal motto is, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).

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