Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez has long advocated for effective reform of the immigration policy and enforcement of the United States. Asking for a humane approach, the Mexican-born prelate said recently "They are always, first and foremost, human beings." He spoke at a conference at the Los Angeles Rotary Club to mark the observance of National Migration Week. According to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the goal of the conference was to promote awareness of the challenges faced by immigrants, especially children.
"We are talking about souls, human souls, not numbers or statistics,” said Archbishop Gomez during the Jan. 5-11 conference. “ We are talking about parents who, without warning, will not be home for dinner tonight. Parents who do not see their families for a decade."
Born in Mexico in 1951, Archbishop José Horacio Gómez became a U.S. citizen in 1995. Among the Catholic bishops of the U.S., he is considered to be the leading voice in the effort to reform immigration. For example, in 2013 he often expressed favor for legislation that the Senate passed last year that provides for a channel towards citizenship for approximately 11 million illegal immigrants, many of whom are from Mexico and Central America.
At the conference, Archbishop Gomez added, “We forget that people are dying in the desert, trying to reach our borders, or women and children who are victims of smugglers and human traffickers." According to the archbishop, “We tacitly accept a permanent underclass of men and women who live on the outskirts of our society. They take care of our children, build our homes and clean our offices, collect the food we eat, but have no rights, no security."
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.