Editor’s Note: Writer Frank Morock works for the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.
By Guest Contributor Frank Morock
The North Carolina House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy held a meeting at the N.C. Legislative Office Building in Raleigh, Wednesday (March 28), to hear public comment on immigration in the state. The 12-member committee, appointed by House Speaker Thom Tillis, is charged with studying and examining state immigration laws already in effect as well as best practices in other states.
The Rev. Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese of Raleigh, presented a statement to the Committee on behalf of the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, and the Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte. The statement explained Catholic social teaching on formation of a just immigration policy.
“This teaching is twofold,” Brockman explained. “First, we support the role of the federal government to regulate migration and to defend its borders and laws; and secondly, as Catholics, we advocate for the recognition that immigrants, as members of God’s human family, are deserving of and must be granted the appropriate dignity as our brothers and sisters in the Lord.”
The monsignor also noted how the Bible “clearly demonstrates that this God-given dignity is given to refugees, migrants, and to all those who are immigrants. Jesus himself was a refugee as a child and an itinerant during his public ministry. He taught us to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35) and to realize that in welcoming the stranger, we are welcoming Christ himself.”
The testimony presented at the hearing represented both sides of the issue. It clearly demonstrated the urgent need of the federal government to undertake major immigration reform. In his remarks, Brockman said without action by the federal government, states throughout the nation have attempted to address the issue legislatively on a local basis.
Pointing to a 2007 document issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Brockman cited the five principles featured in a document from both bishops that could serve as a guide in creating either a national or state immigration policy.
“Both Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Jugis acknowledge that there are many emotions which are often ignited by the immigration debate,” Brockman said, “ but together, they call on ‘all people of goodwill to continue to debate in the spirit of mutual respect, ever mindful that together we must work for peace and protect the dignity of each and every person.’”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Committee Co-Chair Rep. H. Warren announced that the committee will not delay its report to the House speaker until later in the year. He explained the decision is based upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s pending review of the Arizona immigration law during its current session and will hand down a decision by June. Rep. Warren said the committee will take the Supreme Court’s decision into consideration in preparing its recommendation.