Pope Francis’s speech to Congress was a highly anticipated event, but it is one that is unlikely to push members of Congress to take action with respect to Immigration Reform—or with any other temporary measure, like Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents (“DAPA”).
During the Pope’s first visit to the U.S. he had the unique opportunity of addressing both chambers of Congress. The Pope spoke of the large number of people coming from Latin America, calling for unity and acceptance. He also spoke of the importance of treating those who are coming to the U.S. with generosity, reminding us that these are people in search of a better life and the importance of living by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Indeed, it was a very moving—and at times provocative—speech. His words stand at odds with the current political climate, where immigrants, particularly undocumented ones, remain a much controverted political topic. The Pope was only trying to calm anti-immigrant sentiment that has sparked recently thanks to inflammatory statements like those of Presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s. The Pope was certainly not attempting to make a direct and immediate call for immigration reform, but was only trying to find a common ground for Americans and foreigners alike to meet and start from there: “On this continent ... thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities . . . . Is this not what we want for our own children?” The Pope is right; we would want the best of lives for our children, the best of opportunities, the best of health care and education—even if those opportunities were hundreds of miles away—or in a different country. Pope Francis was only trying to place the men and women of Congress in the shoes of an immigrant. Whether that will get Congress to take action is a different story.