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Church backs care for illegal immigrants

Sun., Sept. 20, 2009

LOS ANGELES – Calling access to health care a moral and spiritual imperative, Los Angeles religious leaders and their flocks are urging congressional leaders to include illegal immigrants in any health care reform plan.

More than 100 parishioners attended a Mass of “hope and reconciliation” last week at Our Lady Queen of Angels church and launched a phone bank to convey their support for an all-inclusive health care plan to elected officials.

“If we were politicians, this would be definitely political suicide to come out for health care reform for those who are undocumented,” said Father Roland Lozano, pastor of the church, known as La Placita. “But we’re doing it because we believe … it’s what God wants us to do.”

The question of whether illegal immigrants should have access to a government-sponsored health insurance marketplace has provoked heated debate and criticism of President Barack Obama’s proposals from both the left and right. Obama’s position that his plans do not include illegal immigrants has been attacked as dishonest by some conservatives and a betrayal by some liberals.

The Rev. Richard Estrada, who heads an immigrant services organization known as Jovenes Inc., said broad inclusion of all immigrants was consistent with biblical teachings that all people are children of God who must care for society’s most vulnerable.

The Roman Catholic Church, the nation’s largest religious denomination with 67 million members, considers health care a basic human right.


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