Although there is a clear line separating religion and government in the U.S., that has not stopped some of the Catholic Church’s leaders from publicly speaking about the need for immigration reform. There are millions of Hispanics in America who follow the Christian faith, which makes the Catholic Church’s involvement in the debate understandable. With tens of millions of Catholics supporting undocumented immigrants, there is a good chance that lawmakers will move forward with comprehensive immigration reform.
On May 29, members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration held a service at a Washington, D.C., church. The bishops also met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss how important immigration reform is to the Catholic community. Accompanying the committee’s appearance on the Hill was an open letter signed by 30 Catholic leaders addressed to House Speaker John Boehner demanding justice for undocumented immigrants who have been treated unfairly.
“Legislative obstruction in the face of preventable suffering and death is not only a failure of leadership. It is immoral and shameful,” the letter said. “The eyes of our God – who hungers for justice and commands us to welcome the stranger and bind the wounds of those left by the side of the road – are on us.”
The pressure from Catholic leaders adds to the political tension in Congress. President Barack Obama and his administration have issued a deadline for the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform. Many Republican representatives believe setting a hard date will not yield desirable results. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, vocally criticized the president’s attempt to force the issue.
“When the president says he’s going to set a time limit and then consider taking actions himself … that makes doing immigration reform harder not easier,” Goodlatte said during a committee meeting.