Catholics, Evangelicals Team Up Against House GOP on Immigration

Image: Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski is seen at his arrival leading a group of more than 300 Cuban-American and other pilgrims in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba,
Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski is seen at his arrival leading a group of more than 300 Cuban-American and other pilgrims in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Monday March 26, 2012. Many in the group have not been back to the island since their families fled more than half a century ago.(AP Photo/Esteban Felix)Esteban Felix / AP file

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In a move they called a first, Roman Catholic bishops and evangelical leaders joined together to pressure the House to pass immigration reform this year.

The religious leaders sent an open letter to House members Wednesday, saying “we can no longer delay fixing the (immigration) system.”

The letter carries names of 19 evangelical and Catholic leaders ranging from Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals to Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski.

“Even if we have different political sensibilities, we are united around this cause,” said Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners and a leader of the Evangelical Immigration Table.

Wenski, recalling that Pope Francis had discussed the globalization of indifference while visiting African migrants last summer, said the current immigration system "is a stain on the soul of our nation."

The letter is not only a show of unity, but also a show of faith, given that the GOP has all but closed the window on doing immigration reform this year.

Catholics have long been involved in immigration reform. However, support for it has become more urgent among evangelicals in recent years, Anderson said.

While some lawmakers don’t have to worry about Latino voters, they may have to answer to more evangelicals who consider immigration reform a moral and gospel issue and have a long history of going abroad to construct schools, orphanages and hospitals, Anderson said. Some could be due for surprises in November, he said.