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Immigration Reform

The Catholic Public Policy Commission calls for comprehensive Immigration reform that respects the nation’s legitimate need for strong and secure boarders but treats all people with human dignity. Broad immigration reform legislation should allow for a reasonable path to legal residency status and citizenship, speed the reunification of families, create greater legal avenues for necessary workers to enter in to the United States in the future, and ensure the health and safety of immigrants who are already here.


The three Bishops of Tennessee and the Tennessee Catholic Public Policy Commission are committed to working in solidarity with migrants and newcomers to develop a comprehensive solution that creates immigrant policies that work for all people. The history of our faith community has been as an immigrant church in an immigrant nation. The biblical experience of migration has taught us to empathize with immigrants. Jesus Himself was a migrant in that he and his family were displaced at the time of his birth. We have been taught by Him to look for Him in the faces of the migrants and welcome guests in our country and state. The church has created or adapted many of its ministries throughout history to meet the needs of the immigrant population.


The CPPC calls for comprehensive immigration reform that: puts the undocumented and their families on the path to lawful residence and citizenship; and creates greater legal avenues for workers to enter the United States in the future. The issues particular to the state of Tennessee that must be addressed include:


  • Work place justice: Many of the immigrants who come to our state are placed in difficult work situations in that they are underpaid and unsafe. Safe workplace legislation should be extended to prevent unsafe and unjust working conditions for all workers.

  • Marriage: The ability to marry is a significant issue for many immigrants in our state. The CPPC supports the removal of obstacles for a man and woman to be legally married in our state.

  • Education: Educational and language deficiencies cause barriers for immigrants in our state. The CPPC endorses an increase in funding to allow for the availability of English proficiency classes in the public school system.

  • Driver Certification: The ability to drive is a significant aspect for the residents of our state. The CPPC endorses the strengthening of the Driver Certificate program. We call for legislators to stand against the elimination of this program.

  • The Tennessee CPPC unites with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in calling for a broad immigration reform that encompasses the following aspects:

  • Legal Avenues for migration:  The separation of family members is a significant hardship and places an undue risk on the state of many families who must choose years of separation or coming across the border without proper documentation. 

  • Legalization of the Undocumented: The economy and the culture of the United States have been fortified by the presence of immigrants, yet they are not recognized as legal residents. Such approaches as the development of a guest worker program where immigrants may come to the U.S. and work under a time limited document would benefit our nation as well as the workers seeking employment and a better life for themselves and their families. In recent years the government has allowed provisions for undocumented persons to pay a fine and pursue legalization. We believe this to be a just approach and encourage reinstatement of such a path to citizenship. 

  • Enforcement Policies: While we recognize the right and responsibility of nations to ensure and safeguard borders, such efforts must always seek the common good and be enforced with proper concern for the dignity of all humans.

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