Maryland bishops encourage immigration reform

Obama issues statement on reform plan.

Maryland bishops are urging Congress to pass immigration reform "as soon as possible," according to a release from the Maryland Catholic Conference .

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"We applaud the U.S. Senate for passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill, and we urge all members of Maryland's delegation in the House of Representatives to support efforts to pass a similar measure as soon as possible," the bishops wrote in a release.  "It is time to fix our broken immigration system and bring from out of the shadows those who labor in our fields, care for our elderly, build and maintain our homes and lawns, and who work tirelessly at jobs many Americans refuse to fill."

The bishops acknowledged the need for border safeguards with the "human needs" of immigrants "who have come to our country seeking the same dream as our own ancestors."

The bishops called on 1.2 million Catholics living in Maryland to press lawmakers to pass the reform.

President Barack Obama's reform plan calls for undocumented immigrants to "get right with the law," according to the White House Web page on immigration . The measure would tax immigrants, require leaning the English language and force background checks before earning citizenship.

The law would also force these rules on business owners who, according to the Obama administration, "game" the system by hiring undocumented workers.

In his statement in regards to reopening the government Thursday morning, Obama said:

"There's already a broad coalition across America that's behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform -- from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement.  In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history; would modernize our legal immigration system; make sure everyone plays by the same rules, makes sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities.  That bill has already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 percent larger two decades from now.  That's $1.4 trillion in new economic growth."  

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