Cardinal Dolan Writes Boehner: Immigration Reform By End of Year

Image: Cardinal Dolan Writes Boehner: Immigration Reform By End of Year

Thursday, 07 Nov 2013 08:59 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote to House Speaker John Boehner Thursday, calling immigration reform "a matter of great moral urgency" and asking that legislation be passed by the end of the year.

“The House has a responsibility to debate and attempt to resolve public policy issues that challenge the nation," wrote Dolan, who is president of the hugely influential U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Immigration is a challenge that has confounded our nation for years, with little action from our federally elected officials. It is a matter of great moral urgency that cannot wait any longer for action," he said, adding that passage should take place "ideally prior to the end of the calendar year."

President Barack Obama pressed GOP lawmakers in a statement from the White House last month to do the same, and said he’s open to accepting any immigration legislation as long as it includes a path to citizenship.

Keeping undocumented workers as a permanent underclass, Dolan wrote, is a “stain on the soul of our nation."

The Ohio Republican, who is Roman Catholic, hasn't indicated any intention to move forward on any particular legislation aiming to overhaul the current system, The Hill noted.

And Boehner repeatedly has rejected calls to take up the Senate-passed Gang of Eight bill from June.

Outside groups are also ramping up pressure on Boehner and his Republican caucus. The AFL-CIO and SEIU unions launched TV ad blitzes on the issue this week, which are airing in D.C. and a number of congressional districts with vulnerable Republicans and large Hispanic populations, The Hill reported.

Three House Republicans recently signed onto Democratic Florida Rep. Joe Garcia’s immigration reform bill — Reps. Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida.

In September, Dolan wrote in an op-ed for the New York Daily News that Congress had a “once-in-a-generation chance” to pass immigration reform and fix a broken system.

“Some politicians and policy makers continue to believe that a large number of immigrants who have built lives for themselves in our country nonetheless don't really wish to become a part of America," he said last month in The Wall Street Journal

Dolan argues immigrants would show their commitment to the United States if they’re offered a way to become citizens.

“The church will keep pouring resources into helping immigrants demonstrate that commitment, something our leaders should keep in mind as they debate what will become of these Americans in the making.”

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