Keep family-based immigration system Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, May. 30, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

When my ancestors settled in Wisconsin from Ireland, Germany, and Belgium, many of them came to this state because other family members had arrived previously.

Today, this would be called family-based immigration. Some of the reasons why my relatives came to the U.S. were the same as they are today.

They were seeking freedom of religion, since most of them were of the Catholic faith. They left their home countries, where they may have had low wages and poor living conditions. They hoped to create a better life for themselves and their families. Some came to escape war and conflicts in their countries.

We indeed are a nation of immigrants, except for Native Americans, but even some American Indians had migrated to America from other places.

Proposed merit-based policy

President Donald Trump released a new immigration policy on May 16 that would reshape U.S. immigration policy. It would incorporate a merit-based system that prioritizes high-skilled workers over those with family members already in our country.

According to an article published by Catholic News Service (CNS),  Catholic immigration advocates have raised concerns about the president’s  proposal. The advocates would prefer that the president focus on family unification, strengthening the asylum system, and welcoming people of diverse economic backgrounds and skills.

Saying they appreciate Trump’s willingness to address “problems in our immigration system,” two U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) leaders said they opposed any plans that “seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely ‘merit-based’ immigration system.”

“Families are the foundation of our faith, our society, our history, and our immigration system,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, and Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.

Problems with proposal

Another problem with the president’s plan is that it failed to address young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, known as “Dreamers,” as well as Temporary Protected Status holders from several troubled countries.

Kevin Appleby, a longtime immigration advocate who formerly worked at the USCCB, told CNS that there was little in the president’s plan “from a Catholic perspective to support.”

“Substantively, it cuts against Catholic teaching. It weakens immigrant families by reducing family visas, and it removes asylum protection for unaccompanied children and families at the border,” Appleby said.

I encourage people to contact their members of Congress urging them to oppose the president’s plan and ask that a family-based immigration system — long a strength of U.S. immigration law — be maintained.