Bishops to speak on immigration reform

by John L. Allen Jr.

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At the beginning of their spring meeting in San Antonio, the U.S. bishops decided to wade into the national debate over immigration reform. Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, the bishops will vote on a statement from Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, addressed to President Barack Obama and the members of Congress.

Immigration was not part of the prepared agenda for the meeting, but during the first session this afternoon, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles proposed adding a statement from George to the agenda.

"We're meeting in Texas, which is a very important state in the immigration debate," Mahony said, proposing that George make a statement as lawmakers in Washington "undertake immigration reform, which is supposed to get underway next week."

Mahony has been outspoken on the immigration issue, and the U.S. bishops have adopted a "Justice for Immigrants" campaign favoring "policies that respect the human dignity of immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, and other people on the move." In particular, the bishops have supported pathways to legalization for some immigrants, easier access to the labor market, and policies that would protect the integrity of families.

When Mahony proposed adding immigration reform to the agenda, George asked if he had a draft statement to submit. Mahony replied that one is being drafted, and George swiftly agreed to take it up either this afternoon or tomorrow.

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