Immigration reform backed by Catholics

americaWith the Senate having already passed an immigration reform bill this year, all eyes are now on the House of Representatives to see whether or not such a bill will be able to reach the desk of President Obama in 2013, and Catholic leaders have been doing their bit to ensure comprehensive immigration reform does go ahead.

Ed Cardenas, who helps to maintain two churches, located in Springfield, was born in Mexico and legally came to the United States 26 years ago, but the process to gain citizenship took an astounding 22 years.  “We followed all the laws and steps and making two trips from here to Chicago a week,” he says.  “We became full citizens four months ago.”

The Catholic Church is asking for a pathway to US citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a low-skilled worker program so that migrant workers can legally come and work in the United States, and reform to help reunite families more quickly.  Sister Mary Jean Traeger of St Katherine Drexel Parish says that immigrants who meet with eligibility criteria, have paid their fine and had a background check, should have their legalization expedited.

While Traeger supports some of the aspects of the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate back in June, that bill has no chance in the House of Representatives, according to Republican Congressman Rodney Davies.  There are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, with over 520,000 in Illinois – over 4% of the population.