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Archbishop Wenski's statement on immigration bill and immigration reform

Our broken immigration system frustrates everybody. And in Tallahassee, Senate Bill 1718 is born from that frustration. For more than 20 years, the U.S. Congress has failed to enact a comprehensive immigration reform that would promote family stability and unification, ensure participation of newcomers in the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and assure a legal workforce needed for economic growth and prosperity for all Americans.

However, immigration policy is the responsibility of the federal government and not state governments. Tallahassee’s SB 1718 offers no solutions to the real and growing concerns at the southern border but will bring real harm to Florida’s businesses, houses of worship, schools, public health and safety as well as to the migrants themselves.

For example, the bill would criminalize “empathy” by expanding the definition of “human smuggling.” Anyone offering a ride to an undocumented migrant from church, school or workplace could be charged with a third degree felony. Requiring hospitals to collect data on patients’ immigration status would discourage migrants from seeking timely medical care and would end up overburdening hospital emergency rooms.

The sponsors of this bill want to take out their frustrations on the migrants with various punitive measures that unfairly demonize them and gratuitously seek to make their lives even more difficult. Theirs and our frustrations could more productively be directed towards Washington by urging Congress to address much needed immigration reform.