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Church in El Salvador presses President Obama on immigration reform

.- Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, El Salvador is calling on U.S. President Barack Obama to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform.

The archbishop made his comments after Mass on March 13, in light of President Obama’s upcoming March 22-23 visit to El Salvador. It will be the president's third stop on a trip that will also take him to Brazil and Chile.

“We would like to ask the U.S. president for his efforts, his good will and his firm leadership in bringing about comprehensive immigration reform during his term as president,” Archbishop Escobar Alas said.

El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes will also ask President Obama to push for comprehensive immigration reform and for the permanent benefits of those under the Temporary Protected Status. The designation currently allows 217,000 Salvadorans in the U.S. to work.

The program has been granted an extension on numerous occasions. It grants legal status to immigrants from countries engaged in armed conflict or suffering from natural disasters. Immigrants from various countries in Central America hit by hurricanes and earthquakes have benefited from the program.

“We know that not everything depends on (President Obama), but we would like to hear an expression of commitment, a word that in some way gives hope that comprehensive immigration reform will be achieved. I think that is the main thing,” the archbishop said.

“Laws that criminalize innocent persons are unjust. Laws that separate families, fathers from children, are not just.”

“So I hope in that respect we receive good news,” he added.

Archbishop Escobar Alas encouraged Catholics to pray that God would “enlighten the minds and move the hearts of our leaders to make the best decisions.”

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