Politics
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Catholics reject bishops’ push for immigration increase

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

The Catholic Church’s hierarchy is using Sunday sermons to push for passage of a major rewrite of the nation’s immigration laws, but the Catholic flock believes the Congress has a greater moral responsibility to aid Americans than to aid illegal immigrants.

Only 14 percent of 4,967 Catholic likely voters in 26 states said Congress has “a lot” of responsibility “to help protect the ability of current illegal immigrants to hold a job and support their families without fear of deportation,” according to data from polls funded by NumbersUSA.

In contrast, 54 percent of Catholics said the government has very little or no responsibility to help illegals get jobs and avoid deportation.

The remaining 27 percent says the government has some responsibility.

NumbersUSA is an immigration reform group that wants to reduce the current immigration flow of 1 million people per year.

The polls were conducted by Pulse Opinion Research prior to the Senate’s approval in July of a rewrite bill. Respondents were asked for their religious views, allowing NumbersUSA to highlight the low support among Catholics for the hierarchy’s push for a staged amnesty.

The polling data should help offset the pro-amnesty lobbying by other religious groups, including the Catholic hierarchy, Roy Beck, direct of NumbersUSA, told The Daily Caller.

“Members of Congress who are concerned about how they’ll be judged on a basis of morality need to know that as far as Catholics go, there are a few dozen bishops that take on the [pro-immigration] position, but the vast majority of Catholics place a higher priority on American workers,” said Beck.

The polling data also shows that the Catholic voters believe government has a moral duty to aid Americans, he said.

Forty-eight percent of the respondents said Congress has “a lot” of “moral responsibility … to help protect unemployed or low-wage Americans from having to compete with foreign workers for U.S. jobs.”

Only 19 percent said Congress has no or very little responsibility to shield disadvantaged Americans from foreign workers. Thirty-one percent said Congress has “some” responsibility.

Only 28 percent of Catholic support the hierarchy’s effort to win “legal status and work permits” for illegals. Thirty-two percent favored deportation, and 30 percent said some could stay, but not be given work permits.

The views of Catholics are important because non-Hispanic Catholics have been an influential swing vote that has often sided with Democrats on economic issues, but which are now trending Republican. For example, GOP candidate Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white Catholic vote in 2012.

If Catholics were to see the GOP as dominated by business interests, they’d be more likely to swing back to the Democratic candidates.

The Senate bill passed in July. If approved by the House, it would provide a staged legislation to 11 million illegal immigrants, double the number of guest workers in the country, and double the inflow of immigrants to 46 million by 2033. The increased immigration would would ensure the arrival of one new immigrant for every two American births.