Church stands firm in opposition to immigration reform bill

.- Catholics, both episcopal leaders and laypeople, continue to voice their opposition to a pending U.S. immigration reform bill, H.R. 4437, which they view as unfair and which could penalize churches for helping undocumented immigrants.

Earlier this month, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles called on church leaders and members to defy the bill if it becomes law. Catholics have also participated in marches in several U.S. cities, demonstrating against the bill, reported the El Paso Times.

Likewise, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has expressed its own opposition to the bill.

St. Pius X Catholic Community in El Paso decided to voice their opposition by hanging two large banners from the copper dome of their church. The signs, which were put up Saturday, say: "Immigrants Welcome -- Oppose H.R. 4437."

The bill, which was passed by the House in December and must be still approved by the Senate, would make it a crime to help undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S. It would require churches and other social organizations to ask immigrants for legal documentation before providing assistance.

Msgr. Arturo Bañuelas, the pastor at St. Pius X, told the El Paso Times that the bill could send him and other church workers to prison for taking groceries to the elderly, driving people to doctor appointments, teaching English classes and other activities the church undertakes without questioning people on their immigration status.

Bishop Armando Ochoa is expected to hold a press conference on the proposed immigration bill March 25.

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