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Church leaders push immigration reform

April 2, 2007 at 10:44 AM

WASHINGTON, April 2 (UPI) -- Religious leaders from several denominations are joining the fight over granting U.S. citizenship to the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

With lawmakers in their home states for Congress's spring break, many will receive visits from local clerics supporting a bill that creates a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, USA Today reported.

Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said his members will be targeting 40 U.S. House of Representatives Republicans who traditionally depend on the evangelical vote.

Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention has joined forces with U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who is pushing immigration reform in the Senate. Land told the newspaper the nation has "a biblical mandate to act compassionately" toward "hard-working and otherwise law-abiding immigrants."

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles said he sees the Roman Catholic Church's lobbying efforts as part of a long tradition.

"Since 1770, the Catholic Church has helped every wave of immigrants," he told USA Today.

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