Archbishop Nienstedt urges immigration reform

Jacobo Gabriel-Tomas, who came to the United States from Guatemala 20 years ago, speaks about his experiences trying to become a legal U.S. resident Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 during a discussion about immigration reform at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Minnesota's top Catholic leader is urging passage of federal immigration reform.

Archbishop John Nienstedt, of the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese, hosted a forum at the St. Thomas School of Law today. He said the current immigration system is "inconsistent, ineffective and fails to promote the common good."

Nienstedt says Minnesota's bishops support a path to citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally.

"Each day in our parishes, social service programs, hospitals and schools, we witness the human consequences of broken immigration system," Nienstedt said. Families are separated. Workers are exploited and our fellow human beings perish in the desert. Every immigrant is a person."

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said immigration reform has lost a little steam in Washington. The Minnesota Democrat urged the audience to keep pushing for it.

In June, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would provide a path to citizenship for some 11 million unauthorized immigrants, but House Republican leaders have said they prefer to take up the issue in separate bills.

Klobouchar said her goal is to get the House to take up immigration reform.

"What we're trying to get right now is them to simply pass some kind of bill so that we can get it to conference committee and try to work out those differences," Klobuchar said. "So we can get it done this year which would be so important before we go into an election year where things can become even more polarized and radioactive."

Congress reconvenes on Monday. Lawmakers have only nine legislative days in September, and debate and vote on a Syrian military strike resolution could take up at least the first few days, with the rest likely devoted to budget issues.

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