Bishops praise Senate action on immigration reform

WASHINGTON (CNA)—U.S. bishops welcomed a Senate committee’s passage of a major immigration bill as an “important step,” urging the full senate to consider the bill as soon as possible.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration, lauded the Senate Judiciary Committee’s passage of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.

The committee approved the legislation May 21 by a vote of 13-5.

The archbishop urged the senate to amend the bill to widen “the path to citizenship” and maximize the number of people who can “come out of the shadows.”

The senate’s 867-page immigration bill would allow the estimated 11 million illegal residents of the U.S. to obtain provisional immigrant status six months after the bill if they meet certain conditions, The Washington Post reports.

Those eligible must have arrived in the U.S. before Dec. 31, 2011, and must have maintained continuous physical presence since then. They must also pay $500 every six years, and can seek a green card and lawful permanent resident status if they meet certain conditions, including paying $1,000, keeping current on their taxes and learning English.

The U.S. Senate is expected to consider the legislation this month, though its passage is not certain. The bill’s counterpart in the House of Representatives faces opposition.