Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles denounced state Senator Russell Pearce's anti-immigrant legislation SB 1070 on his blog Sunday, likening the bill to the police state tactics of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia.
Calling the bill "the country's most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law," Mahony spoke out in a way that makes Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted look like a piker by comparison.
"I can't imagine," wrote Mahony, "Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation.
"Are children supposed to call 911 because one parent does not have proper papers? Are family members and neighbors now supposed to spy on one another, create total distrust across neighborhoods and communities, and report people because of suspicions based upon appearance?"
Mahony blamed the Arizona bill, which passed the Arizona Senate's final read today and awaits the governor's signature, on the lack of federal comprehensive immigration reform, and on a misguided assumption.
"The tragedy of the law is its totally flawed reasoning," he stated, "that immigrants come to our country to rob, plunder, and consume public resources. That is not only false, the premise is nonsense."
In March, the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference, which includes Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas and Gallup Bishop James Wall, came out against the bill in a public letter. Their language was highly critical of the Pearce bill, but not quite as fiery as the Cardinal's.
When I lived in Los Angeles and worked for the now-defunct New Times LA, back before the LA Weekly and Phoenix New Times became sister papers, Mahony was a regular target of New Times LA's criticism for his handling of the pedophile priest scandal in his archdiocese.
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Yet his outspokenness on the immigration issue is laudable, even if his position does reflect the power of the Latino community in the City of Angels.
Moreover, most of what he says in his blog is on point.
"Almost all of our immigrant families are `mixed,'" he observed. "That is, some members have legal documents to be here and some members do not. Asking ordinary Americans and over-worked law enforcement officers to hunt down people of suspicious legal documentation is ludicrous and ineffective."
Couldn't have said it better myself, Cardinal. Now if you could only sprinkle some holy water in Russell Pearce's direction, our troubles here might be ended.