Catholic bishops blast Ariz. immigration law, call for national reform

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned an Arizona immigration law on Tuesday and encouraged Congress to work on comprehensive immigration reform.

On the heels of its high-profile involvement in the healthcare debate, the bishops renewed the call they had made in 2007 for federal immigration legislation that gives illegal immigrants a path to citizenship .

"Our national leaders must educate the American public on the need for reform and show courage in making it happen," Salt Lake City Bishop John Wester said on behalf of the U.S. bishops. "Until immigration reform is passed, other States will attempt to create and enforce immigration law, with harsh and ineffective consequences."

Democrats in Congress have been pushing for immigration reform this year, though the timing and political expediency of such legislation could bury it until after November's midterm elections.

Still, the U.S. Catholic leaders condemned the most recent, high-profile immigration law in America, an Arizona state measure which compels law enforcement officials to confront individuals whom they suspect of being illegal immigrants.

"I join with the Catholic bishops of Arizona in strongly opposing the enactment and implementation of Arizona SB 1070," Wester said. "The U.S. Catholic bishops stand in solidarity with the bishops of Arizona in opposing this draconian law."

The Salt Lake bishop, who heads the conference's committee on migration, called for the end of political "gamesmanship" on the issue, and urged a bipartisan solution on immigration reform.