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Bishops say U.S. must address needs of immigrants, show compassion


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While one Catholic archbishop was urging a fix to the country's immigration laws before a Catholic crowd, another was pleading with the government not to separate mothers from their children while in immigration detention, and yet another, a cardinal, was accompanying a grandfather to an appointment that could have resulted in his deportation.

Catholic Church leaders in the U.S. spent the week of March 6-10 trying to allay fears, urging compassion, not just from the government from those who are not seeing "God's creation" when they malign unauthorized immigrants.

"In the church, we say, '¡Somos familia!' Immigrants are our family. We say, 'En las buenas y en las malas.' In the good times and in the bad. We always stay together," said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, in a March 8 address to those who attended the Napa Institute's Washington conference. "That is why the church has always been at the center of our debates about immigration. And we always will be. We cannot leave our family alone, without a voice."

Archbishop Gomez, vice president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, said immigration is the "human rights test of our time" and said that having a policy that solely focuses on deportations without addressing reform of the immigration system risks causing "a human rights nightmare."

He said it's not morally acceptable to say: "It's their own fault," or "This is what they get for breaking our laws."

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