The archbishop of Washington, at an interfaith press conference today, made the appeal for reform "which protects our national security, respects our common humanity, and reflects the values -- fairness, compassion and opportunity -- upon which our nation was built."
Cardinal McCarrick, 75, was joined by religious leaders, including the Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, Jr., president and chief executive officer of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Rabbi Scott Sperling, director of the Union for Reform Judaism's Mid-Atlantic Council; and the Reverend Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ.
In his statement, Cardinal McCarrick acknowledged that immigration "is not a simple issue, but one that evokes strong passions and economic, legal, social and national security debates."
However, he added that immigration is also a humanitarian issue that "impacts the basic dignity and life of the person, created in the image and likeness of God. It is because of this impact on basic human dignity and human life that we believe immigration is, first and foremost, a moral issue."
Cardinal McCarrick called for the adoption of principles included in the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Control Act of 2005 as well as several other immigration bills now pending before the U.S. Senate.
"Every day, we in the Catholic Church see the human consequences of a flawed system," said the cardinal. "We see families separated, workers exploited, and migrants abused by smugglers and who sometimes die in the desert."
"Changing the status quo is an issue of moral gravity," the cardinal said. "Our nation must create an immigration response that is humane, while also serving our nation's economic and national security needs."