U.S. bishops urge passage of immigration reform bills

Demonstrators protest Trump rescinding DACA, Berkeley, CA Sept. 5, 2017 Credit: Shiela Fitzgerald/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Mar 19, 2021 / 10:00 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops’ conference on Friday praised the House of Representatives for passing two immigration reform bills, and urged the Senate to follow suit.

On Thursday, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603).

The former bill would grant conditional permanent resident status to eligible immigrants who entered the United States illegally as minors. It would also grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from certain countries facing humanitarian crises, protecting them from deportation for a period of time. Among other requirements, immigrants would need to pass a background check to be eligible for permanent resident status.

The latter bill, H.R. 1603, would grant certain protections to immigrants who work in agriculture, as well as to their families.

The USCCB noted that the bills would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than three million immigrants.

Both bills earned some bipartisan support in the House. While just nine Republicans voted for the American Dream and Promise Act, 30 GOP members voted for the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), and Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the USCCB’s migration committee, said in a joint statement that they “welcome” the House passage of the bills.

The bills “would help many hardworking immigrants reach their God-given potential, not only for their benefit but for that of the entire country,” they said.

“Inspired by the life of Christ, the Catholic Church remains committed to ensuring that all persons within our society are given the opportunity to flourish, especially those so often relegated to the margins,” the bishops said.

They urged the Senate to pass the bills “swiftly,” adding that they “once again call on legislators from both chambers of Congress to work together to enact broader, vitally needed reforms to address our broken immigration system.”

“We pledge to work with Congress and the Administration on this effort, which we believe is an urgent issue to uphold life and human dignity,” the bishops said.

In Thursday statements, President Joe Biden offered his support to both bills.

Biden said the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 is “a critical first step in reforming our immigration system and will provide much needed relief to TPS holders and Dreamers, young people who came here as children and know no other country.”

He said the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 “will deliver the lawful status and better working conditions that this critical workforce deserves, as well as much needed stability for farmers, growers, and the entire agriculture industry.”

The Associated Press noted that both bills “face gloomy prospects” in the Senate, where they are unlikely to receive the 10 Republican votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

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