Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Cardinal Francis George joined Illinois business leaders at a discussion in Chicago Tuesday afternoon to press House Republicans to pass immigration reform this year.
Hastert, a Republican who served as House speaker from 1999 to 2007, said immigration reform should accomplish two key goals. He says there should be a pathway to legalization and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. The nation's borders also have to be deemed secure, and checkpoints need to be open and able to facilitate people coming in and out of the country, the former lawmaker said.
"Where are we today in Congress," he asked those at the event, hosted by the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition. "Is there a possibility that we can do that? I think so. I am not going to name names, but I sat down with a couple of those [ House GOP] leaders within the last eight or nine months and talked about these issues, and I think there's an understanding, and I think it's time that we move forward."
Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago, joined Hastert in support of a pathway to citizenship. He also called on the federal government to halt deportations.
"We should end deportations because they break up families, and the family, not the individual, the family is the basic unit of our society," George told reporters in remarks after the event, held at DePaul University. "If you break up families deliberately, you're going to have a much weaker society, and besides, the human suffering of the children especially and also the spouse."