The bishops toured the city of Nogales on Arizona's border with Mexico, walking along a section that has been a crossing point for drug and human trafficking. They celebrated Mass just a few feet from a fence erected by the U.S. government in an effort to stem the flow of illegal immigrants. Priests and bishops offered Holy Communion to people on the Mexican side through openings in the steel border barrier. Several hundred people attended the Mass, which was translated into Spanish, the Associated Press reported.
The clerics laid a wreath at the border wall in remembrance of those who have died attempting to make the crossing into the United States. The act mirrored an event last year in Lampedusa, Italy, when the pope threw a wreath into the Mediterranean Sea to remember migrants who have died attempting to reach Europe. According to reports of President Obama's meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican last week, the president and the spiritual leader of the world's more than one billion Catholics discussed immigration problems among other issues.
Immigration reform, a hot-button issue for years in American politics, remains stalled in Congress with Democrats and Republicans unable to reach an agreement on how to address the issue. The Senate, where Democrats are in the majority, passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last June, but the measure stalled in the GOP-controlled House, where Republicans have argued for a piecemeal approach to reforming the system. House Democrats last week tried to force a vote on a comprehensive immigration bill, while Republicans remain reluctant to take up the issue in an election year in which the GOP hopes to gain a number of congressional seats at a time when President Obama and the Democrats face a rising tide of discontent over issues such as ObamaCare and prolonged economic stagnation, as well as illegal immigration. The issue could tip the scales in voting in Western border states that have been traditional Republican territory, but have swung to the Democrats in recent elections.
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