By Madalena Araujo, CNN
President Obama’s new action on immigration will provide “real relief” for millions of families who are just trying to find “a better life,” Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“I am very welcoming… [of] his move, his action, of course, because [it] will benefit at least five million people to really legalize their statuses here, and especially for all those adults who have already children, U.S. citizens born here.”
“And so it will be great for them to have a legal status and work here normally. And for them it's a real relief.”
Last week, through an executive order, the U.S. President announced that he intends to grant large numbers of undocumented immigrants protection from deportation; The Migration Policy Institute estimates that more than five million people could be protected.
Elizondo underlined his support for the President’s push for reform, “because he announced that he will expand the - or extend the permit that he already offered before to the DREAMers, those young people who were brought here by their parents and then grew up here and now they are in college or in universities, and they are a beautiful asset for the nation.”
“And it is so for them, it's a win-win.”
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there were over 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. as of January 2012.
The auxiliary bishop of Seattle travelled to the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this year to see for himself what migrants go through when they try to cross it, and celebrate Mass for those who die and their relatives.
“We travelled there because of course we wanted to have the experience first-hand of what the migrants suffer there and endure, trying to reach our country.”
“And there have been thousands of people dying on the desert in Arizona and Nogales, where we would have that mass, that celebration with a lot of people in both sides of course.”
“And it was powerful in every way… looking for better service to all my brothers and sisters who are trying to reach the country and have a better life. That is why we did it. And we went especially to pray for all those who have died on the attempt of coming to the United States.”
Republicans are opposed to President Obama’s action; many believe he overstepped his legal bound by issuing the order, and may even try to block him from using federal fees to issue permits for millions of migrants.
“I am pretty much convinced that his party will support him,” Bishop Elizondo said. “And so the people working with the rest of the Congress craft a real reform with the immigration laws so that that will benefit the country itself.”