Our country was founded and has been built by immigrants. But throughout our history we have struggled when new waves of immigrants arrived and sought the same freedoms that brought our ancestors here.
Globalization has linked economies around the world. This has brought about benefits and some losses. Trade agreements that allow the free movement of goods between countries have lowered prices on many products and made a wider variety of goods available to us. But they have also changed the patterns of employment. When the international trade agreements cause people to lose their livelihood in their homeland, they necessarily migrate in order to provide basic needs for themselves and their families. In our hemisphere, the trade agreements do not permit the free movement of people across borders in order to find employment.
What are some sound principles to follow on the issue of immigration? The Catholic Church teaches us that every person has dignity. It calls us to participate in the common good and to protect families. It also states that workers have rights as well as responsibilities. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that all people have a right to employment and the right to leave their country for another when no work is available to them in their home country. Countries also have the right to control their borders. These rights may conflict with each other, as is occurring in the USA today. Our present immigration laws are not equipped to handle the changing circumstances created by the global economy. This is why our country needs comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. Together with our Catholic Bishops, we are advocates of comprehensive immigration reform.
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