The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging Congress to vote on immigration reform before the August recess without delay, saying that the time has long since come to enact major changes to America's immigration system and help suffering families that are being split apart by the current policies.
"Our strength as a nation is drawn from our diversity and the unique talents of persons from around the world. Under our current immigration system, we weaken our country, not strengthen it. By not acting, we alienate a generation of young persons, who are the future leaders of our country. We are saying "we do not want you or your families," Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami , who is part of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, said in a statement Thursday.
Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and Chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Migration, lamented that each day, families are being divided by deportation, and as many as 100,000 U.S. children are being separated from their parents each year.
"Is this how we invest in these young citizens – the future leaders of our nation? No doubt we are undermining their trust in America when their own U.S. government – whose purpose is to protect these children – takes their father or mother away. There is a large social cost to inaction, a price we pay in this country every day and will pay into the future," Elizondo stated.
"Family unity also extends across the border. It is a human tragedy that an untold number of children in Mexico and countries south see their fathers and mothers leave for the United States each day."
The bishops' comments follow that of Sojourners President Jim Wallis who called on House Speaker John Boehner earlier this week to make both a moral and a biblical choice on immigration reform and allow the vote before the August recess.
"Fixing this broken system right now is the moral test for the common good of this Congress. One man stands in the way of that. One man can fix this system, by just allowing a vote. That's Speaker John Boehner," Wallis told The Christian Post in a phone interview Wednesday.
"The faith community is going to be watching John Boehner very carefully, of whether he will make a moral decision here. The Catholic Church is completely clear about this. He is a Catholic, and his bishops have been clear, the pope has been clear - it's time for John Boehner to make the right moral choice. It's time for John Boehner to listen to and obey his own Catholic Church."
A group of U.S. Bishops traveled in April to the border of Arizona and Mexico to commemorate more than 6,000 people who lost their lives while attempting to enter the U.S.
"What we fail to remember in this (immigration) debate is the human aspect of immigration, that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issues," Elizondo said at the time. "Those who have died, and those deported each day, have the same value and innate God-given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths."
On Thursday, the bishops celebrated Mass in Washington, D.C., at St. Peter's on Capitol Hill, before heading over to Congress to urge for a vote on immigration reform.
The bishops wanted to speak with members of Congress to talk about the "human suffering" of migrants at the border and in the county, according to USCCB.
The bishops noted that they are inspired by Pope Francis, who has often spoken out against what he calls the "globalization of indifference" toward people in need and the "throwaway culture" that fails to protect their lives and basic human dignity.