Catholics Discuss Immigration in Salt Lake City

U.S. bishops and other Catholic prelates and activists gathered in Salt Lake City on January 12 for a three-day conference focusing on immigration.

The event was hosted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and Migration and Refugee Services. The event’s scheduled sessions pertained to a wide range of topics, including E-Verify, Secure Communities and the controversial immigration policies pursued by states like Arizona and Alabama.

On the first day of the conference, panelists included Don Kerwin, executive director at the Center for Migration Studies, who drew attention to the high rate of deportations seen during the Obama administration, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Other topics addressed on the first day included the relationship between immigrants and local police forces, and the impact of parental deportations on children.

Salt Lake City Bishop John Wester praised the Utah Compact in his opening keynote address. The compact is a document enumerating five principles to guide immigration reform in the state, including the principle of keeping families together.

Many speakers addressed the question of how Catholics should take action on the immigration issue given its scope, Efe reported.

Efe quoted Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy at the USCCB, as saying, “Recognizing that the solution must come at the federal level, the conference provides participants the knowledge and skills to respond at the local level.”

On December 6, Salt Lake City was the scene of another panel on immigration, featuring Stephen Sandstrom, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and member of the state legislature. That event was described by City Weekly as “tense and sometimes raucous,” as Sandstrom faced tough questions regarding his stance on E-verify and a pathway for citizenship. He reaffirmed his belief that border security should be improved before naturalization of illegal immigrants is considered.