As federal lawmakers continue to work on immigration reform that is expected to include more border security and a possible route to citizenship for those immigrants who are in the country illegally, Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona joined several religious and union leaders Wednesday urging that family-unification policies be included in any comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
Bishop Kirk Smith said that the family is the “chief social unit in society” and protecting and keeping immigrant families together should be paramount as federal lawmakers consider reform.
“This is one thing that we do all agree on, and that is support of the family, because we consider that to be an imperative that’s given to us by our religion and by our God,” Smith said on a conference call with the other officials.
A University of Arizona cited a study that showed that persons deported illegally are very likely to cross the border again in order to return to their families
In interviews with more than 1,100 deported immigrants, the university researchers found that nearly a quarter had children in the United States who are citizens, and more than a third see the U.S. as their home.
Bishop Smith cited the example of a parishioner “who had lived in the United States illegally for 20 years, raised a family and sent his kids to college before being picked up for a traffic violation. He now faces deportation.
“In all of our religious traditions the family is seen as the chief social unit in society and needs to be protected and needs to be upheld,” Smith said.