Here at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, we have focused on immigration reform as an issue of social justice, which it most certainly is. But, Mark C. Curran, Jr., is the Sheriff of Lake County, Illinois, and in this week’s Common Good Forum, he reminds us that law enforcement groups favor immigration reform on practical grounds too: They need the trust of the community in order to do their work.
Much has been made about the lack of trust that exists between House Republicans and the President. In fact, this broken relationship has been cited as the main reason for a delay in moving forward with broad immigration reform legislation.
But a different kind of trust is exactly why we need reform, and we need Congress to move quickly.
I have dedicated decades of my life to enforcing our laws. As a prosecutor, an instructor of criminal justice, and now as the Sheriff of Lake County, I have come to understand the importance of good law enforcement implementation through many angles. I know very well that trust in the community is a critical component for enforcement. In addition, my religious beliefs have encouraged me to embrace faith, not fear, on issues that involve our fellow human beings.
The longer we delay this necessary reform, the longer my deputies will struggle to serve and protect neighbors in our community who may not trust anyone with a badge because they fear being caught up in our broken immigration system. Even victims of crime may be afraid to come forward.
So too are many immigrants being pushed into an underground economy. For the livelihoods and family unity of everyone who calls this country home, as well as for the future of our economy and protecting America against those who would do us harm, having a dependable and trustworthy immigration system is nonnegotiable. Refusing to address the serious immigration issue facing this nation is both un- Christian and un-American.
Past efforts to tackle immigration reform did not build the trust we need, and the problems of a broken system persisted. Now we have an opportunity to create a process that finally addresses the fear and uncertainty immigrant communities face while allowing local, state and federal law enforcement officials to support a system that reinforces the rule of law.
Americans in both parties overwhelmingly support immigration reform. Law enforcement leaders join business, agriculture, faith groups, labor groups and human rights advocates who are uniting like never before to push for reform now. Leaders in the House of Representatives need to put trust over politics and recognize this opportunity — for our country and for their own respect.
Our communities and our country need immigration reform now, not at some undetermined time based on political calendars. We cannot wait to replace a broken immigration system that forces millions of people to live in the shadows.
Instead of citing distrust and delaying reform, Congress must work together to pass effective immigration reform that adheres to conservative principles: the rule of law, security and safety, family unity and human dignity. We need to ask ourselves what our founding fathers would do, because we know what Jesus would do.
With a new immigration process, law enforcement officials will be better able to build trust in the communities we serve. And that will keep all of us safer.