(Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced its support for the Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of USCCB's Committee on Migration, announced the group's support not long after the Evangelical Statement was unveiled at a press conference in Washington, D.C. yesterday.
"We welcome today's statement by evangelical leaders in support of immigration reform. They, along with many others, recognize that our immigration system is broken and impacts basic human rights and dignity," said Gomez.
"Our elected officials should heed their call for immigration reform. We look forward to working with them in pursuing a more just and humane immigration system in our nation."
Kevin Appleby, director of USCCB's Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, told The Christian Post that he considered the Evangelical Statement "a very important development."
"The Evangelical community can reach into a constituency to educate them on the issue of immigration reform and that may move the ball forward in Congress," said Appleby. "We always welcome the addition of other faith groups into the debate and I believe that this faith community in this country will really make the difference."
Evangelical leaders across the political spectrum met at Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill to announce their support of a statement of principles on the issue of immigration.
The statement called for elected officials to pass immigration reform that would, among other things, secure borders, create a pathway to citizenship for those who qualify, and to end the partisanship on the issue.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, a group that is part of the Evangelical Statement, told CP that the support is "welcomed."
"The USCCB statement speaks to the universal Christian support of immigration reform. It conveys a clear and compelling argument that immigration reform and the treatment of the stranger stems out of the very heart of Christianity," said Rodriguez.
"Both evangelicals and Catholics stand committed to recognizing and protecting the imago dei, the image of God in every human being. This statement affirms that commitment."
Matthew Soerens, U.S. church training specialist at World Relief – another evangelical group that signed onto the statement – told CP that the Catholic Church has long been a leader on immigration reform.
"The Catholic Church has been on the forefront of both advocating for just policies and of helping immigrants to integrate into the American society," said Soerens.
"The Catholic bishops have, in many ways, led the charge in the larger effort for immigration reform, seeking a response to the challenges and opportunities presented by immigration in ways consistent with biblical values of compassion, justice, and hospitality."