Fear That More Migrants Would Die
WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A U.S. bishops' conference official asked President George Bush to veto a bill that would authorize construction of up to 700 miles of fencing and barriers along the Mexican border.
Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. conference, made his request in a letter sent to Bush regarding the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
"To be clear," Bishop Skylstad wrote, "the U.S. Catholic bishops are supportive of efforts to enforce immigration law and secure our borders, so long as the mechanism and strategies applied toward this end protect human dignity and protect human life."
"However," the bishop of Spokane added, "we are opposed to this legislation because we believe it could lead to the deaths of migrants attempting to enter the United States and increased smuggling-related violence along our border. We also believe it would send the wrong signal to our peaceful neighbor to the south, Mexico, as well as the international community."
Bishop Skylstad, 72, also noted that a recent study from the Government Accountability Office found migrant deaths have doubled since 1995, about the time the government began a series of border enforcement initiatives designed to stem illegal entries at ports-of-entry and other traditional crossing routes.
Since this time, close to 3,000 immigrants have died in remote portions of the U.S. Southwest.
The bishop continued: "In our estimation, the erection of a border fence would force migrants, desperate to find employment to support their families, to seek alternative and more dangerous ways to enter the country, contributing to an increase in deaths, including women and children. …
"We strongly feel that the development of just global economic and trade policies designed to help create living wage jobs in countries of origin would permit persons to remain home and support themselves and their families."