|Cardinals visit White House, Hill on immigration
By Jerry Filteau
Catholic News Service
-- Several U.S. cardinals had a busy morning in Washington April
28 urging humane and compassionate immigration legislation as the
Senate prepared to debate immigration reform.
The U.S. bishops want a "comprehensive reform" that deals
compassionately with the millions of undocumented aliens in the
United States, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington said
in brief remarks at a photo opportunity between meetings on Capitol
The U.S. bishops have expressed support for many aspects of a compromise
bill expected to reach the Senate floor in early May, but they are
also concerned about harsh enforcement provisions in the legislation,
including expedited removal of illegal aliens along the border and
denial of protections to asylum seekers.
Cardinal McCarrick and Cardinals Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles
and William H. Keeler of Baltimore started the day with a breakfast
meeting on immigration reform with White House deputy chief of staff
Karl Rove and other White House aides.
Also attending that session was Vincentian Father David M. O'Connell,
president of The Catholic University of America.
From the White House Cardinals Mahony and McCarrick went to Capitol
Hill to meet with several senators on immigration reform legislation.
Following a meeting with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Cardinal Sean
P. O'Malley of Boston joined them and the three prelates met with
Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill.
A meeting with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., capped
off the cardinals' Hill visit.
At a brief press conference following the meeting with Reid, Cardinal
Mahony was asked his views on the proposed immigrant boycott of
work and school on May 1, when demonstrations for humane immigration
legislation were planned across the country. Activists working on
behalf of immigrants were divided over the use of a work-school
boycott as a demonstration tactic.
The cardinal said he hoped Los Angeles children would attend school
that day to learn about immigration issues and write their legislators,
and after school join a march planned in Los Angeles, which was
to start at 4 p.m. in MacArthur Park.
During another brief media event before the cardinals' final meeting
on the Hill, Frist said he hoped the Senate would be able to craft
an immigration bill that would enjoy strong bipartisan support.
One of the key elements in immigration reform that the cardinals
and the U.S. bishops have been working for is a program that would
provide a path to citizenship for large numbers of undocumented
workers already living in the United States.
The compromise bill the Senate will consider allows undocumented
workers who have resided in the United States for more than five
years to obtain a conditional immigrant visa and eventually permanent
residency after fulfilling certain conditions; it sets more stringent
rules and conditions for those who have been in the United States
less than five years.