Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

Catholic Bishops Set to Lobby Lawmakers on Immigration Overhaul

Immigration reform advocates march toward the Capitol.

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Faith leaders are ramping up their lobbying of lawmakers, pushing them to pass an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws as the window is rapidly closing for the House to act this year.

On May 29, members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration will take to Capitol Hill to make their case to members of Congress.

Participants will hail from parts of the country where immigration is an especially hot-button issue: Las Cruces, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Miami. Bishops from Salt Lake City and Seattle will also be present.

Eusebio Elizondo, the auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, said participation at a Mass in early April at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona was revelatory.

“Our trip to the border opened our eyes, even more than previously, to the human tragedies generated by our immigration system,” Elizondo said in a statement. “Bringing our experience, as well as the solidarity and spirit we felt as residents on both sides of the border, to our lawmakers in Washington is a natural next step.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration’s visit will come on the heels of a lobby day recently convened on Capitol Hill by a group of evangelical pastors who urged primarily House Republicans to act on immigration before the end of the 113th Congress.

Both groups face a difficult task when it comes to changing minds or spurring action. California GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was visited by some of the evangelical pastors a few weeks ago, and the staunch opponent of overhauling the immigration code parted ways with the activists unconvinced.

This is what he told CQ Roll Call at the time:

“My response to them was, No. 1, a policy of legalizing the people who are here, the sort of easy way out, would in the long run put 40 million new people into our country, which would change the nature of our country, and that would be a bad thing, not to mention breaking the bank, etc.

“Also, my response was that Christian love is not furthered by advocacy of government policy but instead by individual action and commitment. Individual commitment is not individual commitment to changing a government policy, it is to come out and help specific people and people who are in need, and if [the pastors] really wanted to help people who are here illegally or in bad situations they, they want to pay for their health insurance and everything, then I would be saying how wonderful that is. But if they are advocating that the government do that, then it will break our bank and destroy our country.”



Immigration Overhaul for 2014: Decidedly Not Dead

Deadline for Immigration Overhaul Is August, Says Diaz-Balart (Video)

  • HelpSaveMaryland

    Once again the Catholic Church is lobbying Congress to promote immigration reform (amnesty) legislation. I thought the Church was a non-profit organization which pays zero taxes and is not allowed to lobby for any legislation by Congress?

    So let me get this straight. The Catholic Church lobbies Congress to pass amnesty for the benefit of mosty Hispanic Catholic illegal aliens who will then fill the empty pews in Catholic Churches across the nation. Bad enough Catholic Charities lives off Uncle Sam for helping settle refugees in the U.S. How about we force the Catholic Church to actually pay taxes. That will cover some of the costs for educating the children of illegal aliens, as well as social services, healthcare, incarceration, gang violence and crime, housing, energy, food stamps, drugs,prostitution, and other costs caused by illegal immigrations. Mind you the Catholic Church is also against border security and internal immigration enforcement.
    As with birth control, my attitude toward the Catholic Church – You don’t play-a the game, you don’t make-a the rules!

  • BMarie

    The only immigration reform we should consider is enforcing the laws already on the books and quit forcing taxpayers to subsidize people who are lawbreakers. Why do we have to pay for their kid’s education, provide subsidized housing, any sort of welfare, medical care or anything at all? When Americans break the laws we get fined or jailed or both, so why aren’t they? They are breaking our laws just by being here.

  • Burton Pauly

    I’m against this plan of immigration, because the line to legal immigration is already full of people wanting to be citizens. Anyone who wants to become a citizen should have to go to the end of the line. All the present laws on immigration should be enforced. No exceptions. We have too many folks who need work, and the jobs need to be filled with present citizens. All of the illegals are already swelling our system of needed benefits. Taxpayers of the USA are weary of footing the bill for all of the illegals, and wannabe citizens.

  • dale

    I have a better idea, since the catholic pope chest is worth 10 to 15 billion dollars, cash in 10 Billion and support your flock of poor illegals who have broken our laws which the bible says to obey! Oh but that doesn’t fit the catholic narrative does it?

  • Joe Guzzardi

    How about if we follow the same immigration laws as Mexico where being in the country illegally is a felony and the intruders are subject to lengthy jail sentences?

    As for the Catholics, they’re in no position to pretend that they’re traveling the high road. Read the sad case of Cardinal Mahony, who protected child sex offenders for decades.

  • netmad

    How about we send all of the illegals the Catholic church wants and send them directly to the Vatican. They have enough money to take care of all of them.

  • Alan Lopez

    If they do the Church should be stripped of it’s tax exemption. And yes, send them to the Vatican.

  • c69101

    No Amnesty! Send illegals home!

  • Tyler Proctor

    no amnesty ever

  • 2formetoo

    The sign in the picture wants America to Stop Deportations and Family Separations, BUT just who is really the culprit here? Isn’t it the ILLEGAL ALIEN who sets this up for themselves by crossing illegally?? HOW THEN, CAN THEY EXPECT SYMPATHY FROM THE AMERICAN WHO WILL HAVE TO BEAR THE COSTS OF THEIR ILLEGAL ACTIONS??? Just outrageous thinking!!!!

  • mbnick

    Want to absorb all these law breaking moochers? Then cut the number of immigration applications until they are absorbed. Commit any crime, get deported.
    Haven’t learned English in a year, get deported. On the dole, plan to pay it back.
    In reality most of them could care less about citizenship. They want stuff. The simple solution is shut off the stuff.

  • ErikKengaard

    Outrageous that the Church is tax exempt but meddles in politics.

  • Den C

    Our immigration system is not the problem. Our problem is illegal aliens violating our sovereignty, breaking the rule of law by remaining, breaking our laws by working illegally and taking jobs from out of work Americans. As a Catholic I am appalled by this attempt to shape government policy by the Bishops who should be working in Mexico to improve conditions there.

  • JD

    It is time the CHURCH dealt with the problem directly in the Central & South American countries. The CHURCH needs to get active in saving their people in their own countries NOT transferring the problems to the USA to deal with. It is time for the CHURCH to step up and address their responsibilities in those countries in the south. The CHURCH is supposedly strong in the Southern
    Hemisphere and the Pope is from down there. The CHURCH needs do penance for the mess they made with their stable of pedophile Vietnam DRAFT DODGERS. NO AMNESTY of any kind!

  • Peter Angelou

    As a Catholic I am dissapointed by the action of these American Bishops. They should do their job and worry about their flock, not a flock that belongs to another Bishop in a different country. Let that foreign Bishop care for his flock! Do not pass them off to the American public..
    Sad to say but America can no longer be the world’s caretaker. The Bishops have a selfish motive in pushing this program . They want to “gain” more church members as the overall membership in the American Catholic Church is in decline.
    If ths passes I will have to rethink what I tide the church. It will definately be a much smaller amount!!
    Follow the laws that are in effect and do not grant amnesty!!

  • CWP

    As a Catholic and half-Mexican I don’t support SHAMnesty just to increase the size of my ethnic and religious community. If you do, that makes you something of a Papist and/or ethnocentrist..

  • CWP

    I have some Bible teachings for these Pharisees, er Bishops, in relation to illegal immigration-

    Thou shalt not trespass.
    Thou shalt not steal.

    And where is your love and compassion for American workers and taxpayers?

    Why do you give preference to illegal aliens instead of your countrymen?

    Because most of them are Catholic?

    Shame on you, Judas!

  • CWP

    Congress-a Den of Thieves (Matthew 21:12-13). Today’s money changers have made the People’s House (Congress) a den of thieves.

    Congressmen and these Bishops-modern day Pharisees (Matt 23:3-7).

    3 ……….for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They
    tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s
    shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move
    them. 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see……………. 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

  • FelixGorney

    If so-called church leaders were truly concerned for the welfare of Mexicans and other illegals, they would be trying to improve conditions there. Mexico has great natural wealth. The same religious left claims we are exploiting 3rd world countries for their resources. Really?! At $100 per barrel, who is being exploited? 2/3 of the world’s population have less than the people of Mexico. The oil industry is nationalized. Why is Mexico and other such countries not flowing with milk and honey? Perhaps crony socialism doesn’t work. There are 7 Billion people in the world. Can we possibly let everyone in who wants to be here? And if people are getting hurt trying to enter illegally, the most compassionate thing to do is build an impenetrable border fence so that no one will try. Also, what about the 20 MILLION USA citizens who can’t find a full time job? What about the fact that the cost of government at all levels is already equal to 60% of all income? What if that creates much poverty by destroying prosperity? There is definitely smoke in the church and it’s not incense. The religious left is alive and well in the Catholic Church. How can they advocate a false justice for some while creating real injustice for others?

  • CWP

    Ah, and many of these bishops are the same ones who did as much as they could to protect pedophile priests. Sorry, but I absolutely can’t look to these wolves in sheeps’ clothing for moral guidance on this or any other issue. Tsk.

  • Phyllis Schultz

    We have laws in place for handling illegal immigration. These laws need to be enforced. Maybe the vatican can afford to provide for millions of people who are here illegally. The American people can’t.

  • red

    Take away the financial incentives, anchor babies etc, and they will return and e can have sanity in this country again!

  • david

    good for Dana Rohrbacher! why are there so many elitists and Reconquistas in our church?

  • Guest

    The Obama Administration is attempting to circumvent Congress and increase the number of guest worker visas – more than 100,000 the first year and an additional 35,000 every year after that – with no public debate. See our news story.

  • suan2

    The Obama Administration is attempting to circumvent Congress and increase the number of guest worker visas – more than 100,000 the first year and an additional 35,000 every year after that – with no public debate.

  • suan2

    No amnesty period! Our country, our true american citizens and our economy cannot take any more.

  • EMU135

    What say we enforce our immigration laws the same way that Mexico enforces theirs? Try going there illegally and see what happens to you. This one way door will bankrupt this country. Secure the border and enforce our laws!

  • John

    35 years ago I was working in Porto Rico and I saw a sign saying “Come to Lawrence Ma”. That sign was put up by a priest from Andover Ma. You should see Lawrence now. I’ve been struggling sometimes working two or three jobs to make ends meet. The Catholic church has such great ideas to help mankind,but who has to pay for it. Of coarse it is the dwindling working middle class that gets taxed 35-50%. How much does the church pay? How much does the corporate word donate? Does anyone see California in default? Here in Massachusetts the social services are strained to the limit. Does the church care? Do they care about the illegal aliens ? Does the corporate world care? Cheap labor! So who has to pay? You got it. It is the American citizen who still works for a living and the future generations who don’t have a clue.Still working at 67 and tired of the corruption.

  • Reason

    These churches parade as christians and humanitarians but they’re supporting immigration for the same reason anyone else is: greed. That’s doubly shameful and disgusting.

  • William Snedden

    Somehow the mass abortion of millions of babies is less important than breaking up families of illegal immigrants? If a parent of a child is here illegally, the whole family should be deported together. Does a broken law have any less significance if the lawbreaker is part of a family?? This is nonsense! A small fleet of 747’s could be on-call until a full load is available to take them “home”.

  • Jasmine An’deez

    Between 2002 and 2005, the 9,000 cases of leprosy in these united states were mostly traced to illegal aliens.

  • KatRob

    One of the reasons I walked away from the Catholic church is because of it’s Marxist and multicultural, one world government philosophy. The U.S. should not have to suffer because Mexico let its citizens down. If the Catholic church is so worried about the welfare of criminal illegal aliens, they need to go to Mexico and demand change to the point that all the illegasl will willingly return home. We cannot sustain the burden of 30 million illegal busboys and landscapers. Mexicans will never assimilate and will forever love and honor the country that let them down by celebrating Cinco D Mayo and not the 4th of July.

  • Wade Wynans

    It’s truly unfortunate that, seemingly, all those entities advocating amnesty are simply wanting to fulfill their own self-serving agendas. The churches want more congregants and contributions to their collection plates, Big Business wants cheap labor and an expanded consumer base. Politicians want a larger constituency. And the do-gooders want to salve their consciences. But WHO wants to do something for America? None of the above! Now if YOU really want to do something for America, call, write, email, or visit your congressional representatives and tell them enough is enough. Meanwhile, you might also wish to contribute to the various groups opposed to wholesale amnesty such as NumbersUSA.

  • muddle

    I am Catholic and say” No amnesty! No way! Remember 1986!”

  • muddle

    At what point does “helping” illegal aliens turn into “aiding, abetting and encouraging” illegal immigration. think we have long passed that point.

  • muddle

    The Catholic also is advocating “sharing the wealth”. No consideration who has worked hard, studied hard, saved hard, etc. and those who have taken it easy.

  • muddle

    To encourage disdain for our just immigration laws is contrary to Christian beliefs. It is
    actually very simple. We have quotas for legal immigration to the United States.
    Those quotas, numbering about a million, are based on our ability to absorb new
    immigrants into the mainstream without undue hardship on our current residents.
    These one million people represent more immigrants than are allowed to
    immigrate to other countries of the world, “combined”. We simply cannot open our
    borders and allow any and all people of the world who would like to come here,
    to do so. If we do not control who and how many people enter our country, we
    will be in danger of destroying our national sovereignty.

  • Shamuz Alonzo

    A brief introduction to the extortionist tactics that illegal aliens are attempting to use against us:

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