Timothy Cardinal Dolan has been one of the most outspoken supporters of comprehensive immigration reform. Earlier in the year, he helped launched a month of prayer by the Catholic Church calling for action on the issue.
Cardinal Dolan on Thursday wrote a personal letter to House Speaker John Boehner, calling immigration reform “a matter of great moral urgency” and asking that the House taken action on the issue by the end of the year.
Cardinal Dolan, who is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in the letter:
On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to you on an issue of great importance and urgency to the nation-immigration reform. We respectfully request that the House of Representatives address the issue as soon as possible, ideally prior to the end of the calendar year. Reports that immigration reform is now delayed in the House are most troubling.
As pastors, we witness each day the human consequences of a broken immigration system. Families are separated through deportation, migrant workers are exploited in the workplace, and migrants die in the desert. In their attempts to respond to these human tragedies, our priests, religious, and social service providers in many cases are unable to help these persons without changes to the law.
As we have communicated in the past, we urge you to pass in its final form immigration reform legislation that 1) establishes a fair and achievable path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the nation; 2) creates a program that permits future flows of migrant workers to enter safely and legally and with appropriate protections; 3) reaffirms family reunification as the cornerstone of our nation’s immigration system and expedites the reunification of families, based on marriage as the union of one man and one woman; 4) restores basic due process protections to immigrants, including protections against unnecessary detention; 5) enhances protections for refugees and asylum-seekers; and 6) examines the root causes of migration, such as poverty and persecution, and adopts policies that address these push factors.
The plea comes a week after three House Republicans offically signed onto Democratic Florida Rep. Joe Garcia’s bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill — Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.
The faith community has been among the strongest proponents of immigration reform. Earlier in the week, conservative faith leader Samuel Rodriguez said that he was going on a 40-day hunger strike to press Congress to act on immigration reform. Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and one of the nation’s most prominent conservative Latino religious leaders.