The U.S. bishops have pledged to work with lawmakers to bring about federal immigration law that will “protect the basic human rights and dignity of persons and serve the national interest.” They are also calling on Catholics to pray for immigrants and those who are advocating for just immigration policy.
The bishops issued this message as the Senate announced a compromise immigration proposal. They expressed “significant reservations” about the compromise immigration proposal, but said it is important that the legislative process move forward, so that improvements can be made to legislation.
“Specifically, Congress should ensure that any final legislation contains a legalization program which is workable and includes family unity and a fair and realistic path to citizenship, a new worker program which provides participants a meaningful opportunity to obtain permanent residency, and the preservation of family unity as an integral part of the U.S. immigration system,” wrote Bishop Gerald Barnes in a statement. “We intend to pursue changes in these important areas.”
Bishop Barnes of San Bernardino is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration.
“We urge the congressional leadership to ensure that the regular legislative process is honored, and that amendments to improve the legislation are permitted and given due consideration,” Bishop Barnes said.
At the same time, the Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign is urging the nation’s 63 million Catholics to pray for changes in U.S. immigration law.
“A Million Prayers Initiative” asks Catholics to lobby and pray on behalf of immigrants nationwide, their families, and members of Congress between May 20 and 26.
“This is a most critical time in the comprehensive immigration reform debate with legislative solutions being proposed by both the President and Congress,” said School Sister of Notre Dame Jane Burke, manager of Justice for Immigrants.
“The U.S. Senate will be considering this legislation during the next two weeks. They need our prayers and need to know that we are calling for a just and equitable immigration reform bill,” she said. “Our voices are essential to the passage of this crucial legislation.”
Catholics are asked to pray a special Justice Prayer.
For information on the prayer campaign, go to: http://www.usccb.org/mrs/jfi/millionprayers.shtml.