President Barack Obama got some timely help in the immigration fight Sunday, when on CBS’ Face the Nation, Pope Francis’ appointee to the archbishopric of Chicago, Blase Cupich, called Obama’s executive order “an important first step”:
“It’s been too long of a time for people to wait for comprehensive immigration reform. And so we see this as an important first step hopefully to jump start what’s happening.”
Talk about hearing what you don’t want to hear:
NORAH O’DONNELL: What do you think of President Obama’s immigration proposal?
BLASE CUPICH: Well, 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.
This must horrify Republicans, who have generally counted on the conservative Catholic leadership in this country to support their culture war agenda, though Archbishop Cupich also repeatedly declined Norah O’Donnell’s invitations to attack marriage equality.
It is one thing for 135 legal scholars to say that Obama’s immigration actions are constitutional. That sort of support lacks any emotional level of engagement. It is quite another to find a Catholic leadership that supports a president on an issue they very much want to impeach him for.
Talk about having your legs kicked out from under you. The simple fact is that on immigration they will find no allies in the Church, and for Archbishop Cupich, the executive order, far from being too much, did not go enough:
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.
Meaning permanent immigration reform, something Republicans in the House of Representatives have avoided giving America for the past 15 months. You’ll remember they seemed to take particular glee is not moving forward with reform even though it is something the majority of Americans want. At one point, they made clear their failure to move forward was their way of punishing Obama for being “mean to them.”
And not only do Americans want immigration reform, but most Americans support Obama’s executive action. Perhaps worse for Republicans is that 89 percent of Latinos support Obama on immigration. You know this demographic will be voting Democrat in 2016. And now to this broad majority of Americans and overwhelming majority of Latinos, we can add the Catholic bishops:
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.
This should not be a surprise to Republicans. After all, Pope Francis early on made clear his own position on immigration and as ChicagoNow’s Teresa Puente reported back in April, “U.S. Catholic officials have launched a national campaign for immigration reform. A group of bishops led by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley recently celebrated Mass for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border with Arizona.”
Ironically, this is the same sort of stuff we’re used to getting from Republicans: what God wants. But what God wants here, says Cupich, is immigration reform. And Obama, not the Republican House, is the guy who has done what God wanted done.
Talk about missing out on a chance to score some huge Brownie points with the Big Guy:
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. I think that being the grandson of immigrants I feel that very deeply.
Republicans cannot be enthused by the prospect of more Pope Francis appointees. They have already been greatly horrified to find in Francis a Pope who sounds very much like the president they have spent six years demonizing as an anti-colonialist Muslim terrorist. Calling Obama a Muslim is a tougher sell when the same words are coming out of the Pope’s mouth and the Pope is citing none other than Jesus of Nazareth.
Republicans have spent endless hours trying to use the God of the Old Testament and a weaponized Jesus like a hammer to terrorize American voters, only to find themselves faced by a media-savvy Pope who tweets things like “We pray for a heart which will embrace immigrants. God will judge us upon how we have treated the most needy” (July, 2013).
No. God’s judgment is no longer something which threatens only black Democratic presidents.
It remains to be seen in fear will be enough of a weapon against immigration reform. The best Republicans can do is fill the mainstream media with endless lies, threaten to shut down the government again, call Obama a dictator and a “lawless emperor” – oh, and warn that immigration action will lead to “ethnic cleansing” and “socialism.”
After all, how does that all stack up when compared to what God wants?
And I guess if socialism is so bad we can close the Interstate system and ground the snow plows in order to soothe Republicans’ hurt feelings in the face of such federal tyranny, but those immigrants are here, and it seems very unlikely they will be going home.
They will become Americans instead, and the one legitimate Republican fear will become reality: they will become Democrats. But this is something Republicans have done to themselves. They could have supported immigration reform. They could have passed immigration reform. But they chose to fear monger instead, and to demonize a growing demographic.
Worse, they have now arrayed themselves against what they claim is their own religion. It is one thing to call Obama’s use of scripture “repugnant” and “out of bounds,” as Fox & Friends did recently, but the same language cannot be used against the Pope, and unfortunately for Republicans, the Pope and his bishops seem to be reading the same Bible as the president.
Photo from the National Catholic Reporter