Cardinal Gregory speaks at immigration reform rally

CNA 5e2b7b6ab3381 179892 1 Wilton Cardinal Gregory at a Mass celebrated at the Capital One Arena before the 2020 March for Life. | Peter Zelasko/CNA

Wilton Cardinal Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, spoke Wednesday in support of congressional immigration reform alongside US Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.

Following many speakers in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was recently struck down by a district court in Texas, Cardinal Gregory’s July 21 speech called for immigration reform “whether through the enactment of stand alone legislation or a broader legislative package.” 

Cardinal Gregory said that the 117th Congress has the opportunity to be “courageous,” after years of delay, to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He called for bipartisan immigration reform legislation, on behalf of the nation’s Catholic bishops.

President Obama created the DACA program in 2012, to delay deportations of, and allow a legal work permit for, eligible undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Around 800,000 people have benefited from the program.

The Trump administration in 2017 sought to wind down the program, accepting no new DACA applications, and gave Congress a six-month time frame to enact parts of the program in law. After Congress failed to pass such legislation in six months, the administration moved to end DACA, but courts ruled against the administration’s deadline.

In June 2020, the US Supreme Court said the administration’s procedure by which it sought to end the program was unlawful.

The court sent the case back to the administration, which announced it would continue not accepting any new DACA applications during a review of the program. The administration also only granted one-year renewals of DACA status for existing recipients.

The speakers at the July 21 event included heads of activist organizations, Senators, and DACA recipients. 

Schumer called for immigration reform as well, and called the recent court rejection of the DACA “vicious” and “brutal.” 

Durbin said in a statement last week that Congress would “act quickly” to pass immigration reform.

Cardinal Gregory’s call for reform of the immigration system noted that “our opportunity is found in our shared humanity and our shared dignity and respect for our neighbors.”

The cardinal spoke for the Catholic bishops by saying that the Church has “repeatedly expressed tremendous concern for families divided by our current broken immigration system.”

He noted that a strong society must provide opportunities for families to flourish. 

“This includes immigrants, and mixed status families, who deserve to be treated with justice and charity,” Cardinal Gregory said

Cardinal Gregory called for Catholics and all Americans to welcome migrants and refugees, “who are greatly contributing to our society through work and service,” with kindness. He also praised the migrants and refugees who were deemed “essential workers” during the pandemic.

He highlighted Catholic social teaching, which “upholds the teaching that every person has the right to live in his or her own homeland in security and dignity, with opportunities for work.”

“However,” he said, “‘when the loss of these rights forces individuals to migrate to other lands, we must welcome them, protect them, and generously share our abundance with them.”

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President Biden has said that the Department of Justice would appeal the Texas court’s decision.

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