U.S. President Barack Obama. (Photo : Reuters)
President Obama met with religious leaders today to hear their ideas and concerns about comprehensive immigration reform.
The president said he wanted Congress to send him a bill within 60 days that would provide a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, and he urged the religious leaders present to continue to pressure Congress and their congregations to move forward on the issue.
"The leaders expressed their concerns over the impact the broken immigration system is having on families throughout their congregations," said a statement from the White House. "The President and the leaders discussed the pillars the President has put forward for reform, including that any bill must include a pathway to earned citizenship, as well as measures to crack down on employers who game the system and exploit both American and immigrant workers, continuing to strengthen our border security, and strengthening the legal immigration system for families, employers, and workers."
The White House has been talking with many disparate constituencies to gather support for immigration reform, most recently from the tech industry, which wants to hire more highly-skilled immigrants, and the LGBT community.
Traditionally conservative members of the faith community have been more receptive to calls to overhaul immigration in recent months, and many religious leaders are beginning to realize that many people in their congregations are undocumented and lack the basic protection of the law.
"I really sensed that this is a high priority for him," Jim Wallis, president of Christian social justice group Sojourners, told CNN. "We are all looking at something being introduced this month and then the bill passing in May or June. We are all hoping that kind of time frame could work."
The religious leaders present at the hour-long meeting included:
* Leith Anderson, National Association of Evangelicals
* Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief
* Bishop Minerva Carcaño, United Methodist Church
* Rev. Luis Cortés, President, Esperanza
* Barrett Duke, Southern Baptist Convention
* Bishop Orlando Findlayter, Senior Pastor, New Hope Christian Fellowship
* Archbishop José Horacio Gomez, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
* Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
* Rev. Kathryn Lohre, National Council of Churches
* Imam Mohamed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America
* Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
* Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition
* Dieter Uchtdorf, Second Counselor, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
* Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners