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90 Catholic College Presidents Call For Immigration Reform

A group of people from Arizona with undocumented parents gather peacefully to pray outside the office of House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. They are beginning a week-long effort to engage Speaker Boehner and lawmakers about the destruction caused to their families by the continued delay of immigration reform legislation.

CREDIT: AP/J. Scott Applewhite.

Over 90 presidents from Roman Catholic colleges wrote a letter to Congress calling for comprehensive immigration reform with the message that “protecting our borders and creating an earned path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in this country are not competing interests.”

Catholic colleges’ alliance with immigration activists broadens the community as approximately a quarter of the United States’ electorate identify as Catholic, according to a Pew study.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, diocese of Little Rock, is just one of several speaking on behalf of the church to representatives. During the October 12 Southerners Unified for Dignity and Reform rally, he expressed dismay for the attitude many Americans have taken toward immigrants.

“National borders are at the service of the common good of both nations that share that border — not just the perceived self-interest of the more powerful of the two,” Taylor said.

Monica Hernandez, the regional coordinator for Southeast Immigrants’ Rights Network that sponsored the march in Little Rock, noted the importance of the bishop’s support.

“The role the bishop has played in creating a welcoming community is something we want to see in other parts of the south,” Hernandez said. “Religious leaders who are vocal and take a stand ultimately set the tone. We are very grateful and honored to have Bishop Taylor.”

Another Bishop who has called for reform, Bishop Richard Malone, diocese of Buffalo, asked parishioners to push their congressional representatives for an immigration reform bill.

One politician listening up is Republican Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who supports immigration reform and points out the benefits of reforming the law.

“We need more people in this country. Our workforce is not going, not just in high-skill work, but throughout,” Gutierrez said. “What a damage this will be to our economy if we don’t get our act together.”

With Congress likely to debate immigration reform before the end of the year, Catholic colleges’ involvement will play a key role in forming legislation.

Kathryn Wing is an reporter with Generation Progress.

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