The Church in the United States is ready to put its resources to work in pushing for changes to immigration policy, with the director of migration policy for the episcopal conference saying that the bishops have their "best opportunity in years to get something positive done and to help millions of people."
Kevin Appleby said this Friday in an interview with Vatican Radio. The episcopal conference official explained the campaign, which will run to mid-October when the House of Representatives will likely vote on an immigration reform package that already went through the Senate in June.
Appleby suggested that there are perhaps 50-60 legislators who might be ready to support reform legislation, if a grassroots effort gives them confidence to vote for such a bill.
Bishops as well as laity are being encouraged to contact legislators and demonstrations are planned or taking place in key constituencies.
This is the "best chance in a generation" for a bill that the Church can support, Appleby told Vatican Radio. "We think that the Church and the bishops can make a difference in pushing the issue forward and if we don't do it this year, the likelihood that Congress revisits this anytime soon is not very high."
Appleby acknowledged that not every Catholic supports the bishops on this issue.
"We are in a position to have some influence not only with the legislators but also with the faithful -- the ones who vote," he said. "If we do it right, if we bring to bear all of our resources, we certainly can move the needle and make a difference here."