WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s decision to take executive action on immigration won praise from the religious community Sunday, when a leader of the U.S. Catholic Church endorsed the move.
“The bishops of the United States — we’re very much in favor of action being taken to protect people who need to come out of the shadows,” newly appointed Archbishop of Chicago, Blase Cupich, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“It’s been too long of a time for people to wait for comprehensive immigration reform,” he continued. “And so we see this as an important first step hopefully to jump start what’s happening.”
Cupich, the ninth Archbishop of Chicago, is Pope Francis’ first American appointed archbishop. His position generally reflects what the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops have called for in the past: a path to citizenship and government autonomy over the law enforcement process at the border.
Over the past week, Republicans have been quick to slam the President for taking unilateral action, with some going as far as comparing him to a monarch or an emperor. On Sunday, Cupich said it’s important for the President to compromise with Congress — including the Republican-led House which has stalled on an immigration bill for the past 15 months.
“I think it’s very important that this be done very carefully but we applaud it as good first step,” Cupich said. “More needs to be done. We encourage the President and members of Congress to get this work done.”
Cupich also admitted that he has some privacy concerns for illegal immigrants, should Obama’s policy be overturned by a Republican president in the future.
“My concern would be that we would have a policy and procedure that would have a confidentiality provision because if people come out of the shadows and sign up and give their names and information, they want to make sure that that is going to be protected in the future should the executive order change by another administration,” Cupich said.
According to Cupich, who served as the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Spokane from 2010 until recently, amnesty is not just a priority of Obama’s, but also God’s.
“The aspirations that people have for better life for their children — in which they are reaching out in hope, as many people who have come to this country have — those aspirations were placed in their heart by God. We have to attend to that,” Cupich said.
“This is not something that they’re wanting on their own but God has always called us to a better life, has always called us to experiencing how we can provide for our families in a better way,” he continued. “I think that being the grandson of immigrants I feel that very deeply.”