A large group of Los Angeles residents have organized a trip to Vatican City to urge Pope Francis to advocate for legalizing illegal immigrants in the United States. The group will bring two children with them to tell the stories of how their parents illegally entered the country and were detained.
According to Fox News, a group of illegal immigrant advocates and individuals with relatives fighting deportation from Los Angeles will visit Rome later this month to deliver letters to Pope Francis from illegal immigrants and urge the head of the Catholic Church to push immigration reform in the United States. The group includes two children of illegal immigrants as well, who are stuck in the United States while their parents are held in detention centers to be processed and expelled from the country.
The group has received the blessing from Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez and is still negotiating with the Vatican to schedule personal time with the Pope. If they do not receive such time, they will still be able to speak to cardinal and deliver letters from the illegal immigrant community personally. The trip, according to the Orange County Register, was in part fueled by frustration with President Obama over what many perceive as an unwillingness to grapple with the growing illegal immigrant problem. One member of the Los Angeles congregation who is also an activist in the illegal immigrant community told the paper: “It’s very nice for President Barack Obama to tell us quite often that he supports immigration reform. But we believe we’ve gotten to the point where we need more than moral support.”
This is not the first time the group has addressed Pope Francis directly. The Los Angeles congregation collected letters from illegal immigrants this January and read them aloud in church in the hope of gaining the Vatican’s attention and promoting advocacy for these individuals. Pope Francis himself stirred hope for illegal immigrants in the United States last February, when he praised the Swedish open borders system as an example of a system in a country that “is not filled with misery.”
While the international Catholic leadership– much less the international Catholic community– do not appear to have a monolithic opinion on how to approach the United States’ rapidly growing immigration problem. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says on their website that it “opposes ‘enforcement only’ immigration policies and supports comprehensive immigration reform.”