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Cardinal Mahony, others call for immigration reform amid recession

January 8, 2009 | 12:40 pm

Cardinal Roger Mahony Religious and labor leaders today called on the Congress and the president-elect to pass an immigration package this year and said that the American economy cannot be restored without legalizing the nation’s undocumented immigrants.

“I don’t think it’s possible to fix the American economy without comprehensive immigration reform,” John Wilhelm, president of Unite Here, said during a media call.

Wilhelm said legislation would improve the economy by placing workers and employers on an even playing field, eliminating exploitation and increasing wages and tax compliance.

Cardinal Roger Mahony said now is the time for immigration reform.

“The nation cannot have it both ways,” Mahony said. “We cannot accept the toil and taxes of immigrants while relegating them to a permanent underclass subject to abuse and exploitation.”

“Immigration reform must be addressed sooner rather than later," the cardinal said. "We need a just resolution to a public debate that is dangerously corrosive and will only worsen with inaction. To continue to delay action will increase tension in states and localities, further alienate immigrant communities, and tacitly affirm the acceptance of a hidden and permanent underclass in our society.”

Mahony, a longtime backer of immigration reform, called on the incoming Barack Obama administration "to take up and enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation during the 111th Congress. Immigrants must be brought out of the shadows so they can fully contribute to our nation’s future economic and social well-being.”

--Anna Gorman

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times