Bishops still have hope Congress will pass immigration reform

By Mark Pattison

(CNS) — Despite the apprehension over policies that could be enacted by a
Republican-led Congress acting in accord with a Republican president in Donald
Trump, the U.S. Catholic bishops remain hopeful that Congress will pass an immigration
reform bill.

is a new moment with a new Congress, a new administration. We should up our expectations and move very carefully on comprehensive immigration reform,” said Cardinal
Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops.

think this might be a very good time, a better time, to pursue our goals,” Cardinal
DiNardo said during a Jan. 12 conference call promoting National Migration
Week, Jan. 8-14.

think the (bishops’) conference is trying to start a conversation with the transition
team of the president-elect,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles,
USCCB vice president. “We continue to help elected officials … to understand
the issue,” he added. “I think we are trying to establish that communication.”

“We are
very much concerned about keeping families together. It’s Important to respect the
security of this nation … but never to lose that human face to this reality,”
added Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the bishops’ Committee
on Migration.

are suffering. People want to be welcome. People want to be a part of this
great American society,” Bishop Vasquez said. “We need to bring about some
change,” he added. “We hope the president will work with us and with Congress as
well to pass some laws that will be humane and respectful.”

“In the
days and weeks ahead, there will be intense debate over immigration reform and
refugee policy. Ultimately, the question is this: Will our nation treat all
migrants and refugees, regardless of their national origin or religion, in a
way that respects their inherent dignity as children of God?” Cardinal DiNardo

Francis reminds us we are all equal before God. In equal measure, we are in
need of and can receive God’s great mercy. This is what makes us sisters and
brothers, regardless of how we chose to divide ourselves.”

morning of the conference call, Archbishop Gomez presented a video message from
Pope Francis on immigration during a Mass at the Dolores Mission Church in
Boyle Heights, California, near Los Angeles. The clip was part of the pope’s
interview with a U.S. television journalist.

Vasquez dismissed the notion that nationwide immigration reform is virtually

don’t know whether indeed working with the local level is sufficient. I think
we as a church have to work with our local communities, with our local diocese
and our state Catholic conferences,” he said. “But it’s important that we
engage the current administration, to make known what is taking place in our
countries. We have to work at the local level, but yes, we also have to work at
the national level.”

are many in Congress who think that immigration reform is a definite possibility,”
said Ashley Feasley, policy director for the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee
Services. “We need to show the need for the reform of our broken system.”

after Trump’s election, Archbishop Gomez had preached about children in his
diocese going to bed afraid. Bishops, he said during the conference call, “can
be present to the people and give that sense of peace that we are together.
There is a democratic process in our country, and this happens every four years.
… We can address those situations and accomplish that in the specific area of
immigration reform.”

added that in his archdiocese, people are “more open to see the future with
more peace and understanding.”

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