Chicago — Less than a week after he was installed in his new position, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich had a brief private meeting with President Barack Obama when the president visited the city to promote his executive actions on immigration.
In an interview aired on CBS's "Face the Nation" Nov. 30, the archbishop said that he and the U.S. bishops support the president's efforts. He expressed gratitude for the plan to help immigrants who lack legal status, enabling them to "come out of the shadows" and live out aspirations for a better life that "were placed in their hearts by God. We have to attend to that. It's not just something they want on their own. God has always called us to a better life."
In the CBS program, recorded before his meeting with Obama, Cupich said: "It's been too long of a time for people to wait for comprehensive immigration reform. We see this as an important first step, hopefully to jumpstart" legislation.
Cupich was installed as head of the Chicago archdiocese Nov. 19, replacing Cardinal Francis George, who retired as head of the archdiocese. On Nov. 25, he and Obama met at the Copernicus Center Chicago, where the president was speaking to rally support for his immigration initiatives. The meeting lasted seven minutes, according to archdiocesan spokeswoman Colleen Dolan.
At an event later that day, Cupich said the meeting focused on the immigration actions Obama announced Nov. 20. The archbishop said he thanked the president for his actions. The plans Obama announced include a program to defer deportation for potentially more than 4 million people who are in the U.S. illegally but who have children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, and make other changes in enforcement priorities.
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In the meeting with Obama, as in the CBS interview, Cupich said the rules for how the administrative actions are implemented should include protections so that people who sign up for the deferred deportation program are not put at greater risk of being sent home if the program is changed under a future president.
Cupich also posted a statement about the immigration policies Nov. 26. In that statement, he said that, along with his brother bishops, he wanted to extend his gratitude and support of the administrative relief measures.
He listed some of the many organizations run by Catholics and other people of faith that have worked to support immigrant families, "working tirelessly, sharing in our common goal to alleviate suffering, dispel fear and to remove the barriers that prevent so many hard-working men, women and their families from being able to pursue their God-given potential and fully share their God-given gifts."
However, the statement added, "we must not forget that there are millions of people left out of these recent relief decisions, still forced to live in the shadows."
Work must continue, the statement said, to support efforts to pass what he called "comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform."