Permitting a path to citizenship is a sore point for some conservatives, like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has criticized legalization for bringing about an exacerbated economic debt. In advocating for a path to citizenship however, Dolan is the most prominent conservative religious member to lend his support for legalization as a necessary component to prevent a “permanent” second class of new Americans:
Given these teachings and experience, we’ve called for an earned path to citizenship to bring a generous number of people out of the shadows in a reasonable amount of time…How do we treat our brothers and sisters? Do we want to continue a system that keeps millions of people in a permanent underclass? Do we want to continue to separate a generation of children from their parents? Do we want to continue the American heritage of hospitality or not? We must do better.
Other prominent Catholic groups to throw their support behind immigration reform that grants full legal status include Nuns on the Bus and the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops, who issued a statement recently strongly advocating for a pathway to citizenship.
Sticking with his conservative roots however, Dolan neglected to make his vision of an immigration reform bill comprehensive. He still doesn’t support immigration equality for same-sex couples. He continued to voice his strong emphasis of the Catholic definition of family in his op-ed:
We also believe that family unity, based on the union of a husband and a wife and their children, must be a cornerstone of immigration reform, because strong families are the foundation of the robust communities that integrate immigrants into American life.
There are an estimated 36,000 who would be torn apart if they are not included in the immigration bill.
The significance of Dolan’s comments reflects a broader coalition of Christian conservative Americans who have accepted a legalization pathway after dismissing it during the 2006 immigration debate, even with some evangelical groups contributing $250,000 to buy immigration-reform television ads this time. Dolan’s comments also may have an undue consequence of bringing back Hispanic youths who are turning to the Protestant religion instead of staying within the Catholic tradition.