Catholic bishops back Obama acting alone on immigration

The nation’s Catholic bishops are jumping into the increasingly contentious battle over immigration reform by backing President Obama’s pledge to act on his own to fix what one bishop called “this broken and immoral system” before Republicans assume control of Capitol Hill in January.

In an unscheduled address Tuesday on Nov. 11 at the hierarchy’s annual meeting, Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the migration committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the USCCB would continue to work with both parties to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

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But, Elizondo said, given the urgency of the immigration crisis and the electoral gains by Republicans who have thwarted earlier reform efforts, “it would be derelict not to support administrative actions … which would provide immigrants and their families legal protection.”

“We are not guided by the latest headlines but by the human tragedies that we see every day in our parishes and programs, where families are torn apart by enforcement actions especially,” he said.

During the summer, the president was moving toward unilateral action on immigration, despite warnings that such moves could exceed his constitutional authority or would turn voters against reform.

Then in early September, Obama said he would delay acting on his own, a move that was seen a way to protect vulnerable Democrats from any backlash in midterm elections. On Sunday, Obama told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he was now “going to do what I can do through executive action.”

“It’s not going to be everything that needs to get done. And it will take time to put that in place,” he said.

Republican leaders in Congress responded by warning they will kill any immigration reform if Obama acts unilaterally. An immigration reform measure passed the Senate with the support of the bishops and the White House but was blocked in the Republican-controlled House.

Elizondo acknowledged that Republicans “might block any kind of initiative that the president might be taking” but said something had to be done.

Elizondo was not the only bishop to speak out on the issue this week. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., a leader in the USCCB and a vocal champion of immigration reform, told the Catholic news site Crux that “it may be necessary for the president to step up and to act” on his own.

Louisville Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the president of the bishops conference, also made a point of telling the bishops — and the press covering the meeting — that he plans to meet with Obama and leaders of both parties in coming months in hopes of pushing immigration reform to the top of the agenda.

This week’s public lobbying by the bishops on immigration reform followed criticism by some commentators that the U.S. hierarchy was not following the new course set by Pope Francis, who has put such social justice concerns at the forefront of the church’s agenda.

It also marks a rare expression of support for the president from the bishops, who have battled the White House over gay marriage and the contraception mandate that was part of Obama’s 2010 health care overhaul. Many bishops had privately urged the USCCB to take a more vocal role on issues beyond gay marriage and abortion.

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ed gleason
3 years 2 months ago
I'm certain that the GOP will try to initiate impeachment if Obama uses executive power to legalize any undocumented. This will be a test of bishop courage if they equally condemn impeachment as they do hailing Obama's having their same immigration agenda
David Cortes
3 years 2 months ago
It seems the bishops have considered whether Obama has the authority to do this and decided that on balance, it doesn't matter. It seems they've also considered that the will of the American people, to the extent it's reflected by Congress's refusal to enact "reform," doesn't matter either. Dear bishops: What, other than your strained reading of the Bible's instruction regarding "strangers," compels your welcoming Obama's plan to commit treason by voiding American law without having the authority to do so?
ed gleason
3 years 2 months ago
" Obama's plan to commit treason by voiding American law without having the authority to do so?' Obama will issue an order to the Justice dept. to limit the deportation cases to criminals and the more recent undocumented.arrivals.. please don't use the treason word or the I word. 5-10 million immigration court cases would need to be prioritized and long term residents would be put on the realback burner. .....so the Fox 'news' and GOP screams about treason are really incitement to violence..If you don't want to join the national guard stop inciting violence. .
Bob Baker
3 years 2 months ago
All this time I thought that Congress made the laws and the President was to enforce them... No one wants to call this Amnesty II because it brings up the fact that Amnesty brought millions into the U.S. during the Reagan presidency and it was supposed to be the only time it was to be done. In addition to the billions of dollars Amnesty II will cost for schools, employment and welfare, there has been some MS-13 gang activity already. One would also think that the president is not a friend of the bishops given the some of the policies of this administration.
J Cabaniss
3 years 2 months ago
Oh good, the USCCB, which has become little more than the bishops Political Action Committee, has taken sides on another political issue. I can only wonder what makes bishops think their political involvement is advisable. I share Cardinal Dulles' opinion here: “By issuing policy statements on matters that lie beyond their specific competence, and that pertain rather to experts in secular disciplines, the bishops diminish their own credibility in speaking about matters with which they are specially charged as spiritual leaders of the church.”

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