Several Catholic bishops celebrated a Mass on Thursday to pay tribute to the victims of immigration in a church near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, where they will meet with members of Congress to ask them to approve immigration reform.
The religious leaders, who several weeks ago celebrated a Mass on the U.S.-Mexico border to remember the thousands of undocumented migrants who have died in their attempt to cross into the United States, thus have transferred their campaign to Washington to call the attention of policy-makers to the suffering of immigrants.
At St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, the bishops prayed for the immigrants and emphasized the moral aspect of the approval of immigration reform, which remains blocked in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
“Our immigration system is a stain on the soul of our nation. As a moral matter, it must be changed. We must pray that our elected officials recognize this and have the courage to reform it,” Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said in his homily.
“The time to act is now,” the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, said.
“We intend to convey the moral urgency of this issue to our elected officials. Delaying any longer is unacceptable,” he said.
After the Mass, the bishops went to the Capitol to visit several members of Congress, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), to demand that they consider an immigration bill.
In June 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that includes a path to citizenship for the almost 12 million undocumented immigrants who are calculated to be in the country, but the measure has yet to be considered by the House.
Immigrant support organizations have intensified their campaign to demand the approval of immigration reform and a halt to deportations, which in the past five years of President Barack Obama’s mandate have exceeded two million.