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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Friday, September 25, 2015

Across Political Divide, Finding Much to Cheer in Pope’s Speech

New York Times
By Carl Hulse, David M. Herszenhorn, Jennifer Steinhauer
September 24, 2015

After his emotive address to Congress, Pope Francis headed to the West Front of the Capitol and delivered a greeting that flowed easily from his lips and could be heard and understood by nearly all.

“Buenos días,” he told the thousands in the cheering crowd below him, many of them Hispanic. This was a reminder of his own roots in Latin America, and another subtle reference to the call in his speech for a more welcoming immigration policy from a Congress that has been riven by the issue.

The focus on immigration was perhaps the most notable element of a speech that saw both political parties seemingly engaged in selective listening. Both Republicans and Democrats appeared able to find some element of what they wanted in the pope’s remarks.

But many were skeptical about whether even the pope could sway politicians on issues like climate change and immigration, where stark fault lines have long been clear and are likely to persist.

Though the pope spoke emotionally about allowing immigrants to enter the United States from its southern border, Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, and others, used Francis’ words as a validation of their own views. They did not see his remarks as in conflict with their own deep opposition to an immigration overhaul that could lead to legal residency for millions of undocumented immigrants.

“I am the son of a Cuban immigrant and have long been a voice that America should not just welcome but celebrate legal immigrants,” said Mr. Cruz, one of several Republican presidential candidates on hand for the pope’s address. “That is entirely consistent with believing in the rule of law that we should secure the border and we should know who is coming into this country.”

For their part, Democrats cheered the encouragement from Francis, a “son of immigrants,” to treat newcomers in a “way which is always humane, just and fraternal.” They applauded his assertion that many immigrants who travel north from Mexico and Central America are simply “in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones.”

They even held out hope that the pope’s exhortations could animate a stalled immigration debate.

“I think it’s a welcome reminder of the importance of the contributions that immigrants have made to our country,” said Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, Democrat of Massachusetts. “Hopefully there’s a way to build on that reminder to try to move the ball forward. I don’t want to overstate it, but if anybody is able to do it, it’s certainly the Holy Father.”

At the same time, Republicans found common ground with the pope’s admonitions — though in more muted terms — on same-sex marriage and abortion, when he spoke of the threats to the “fundamental relationships” within the family and said that it was “our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of development.”

Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a leader of the most conservative bloc of House Republicans, said he was struck by the pope’s “simple defense of the unborn” and was “glad the pope specifically focused on this great moral issue.”

Still, other Republicans questioned whether the pontiff should even have a role in policy on Capitol Hill. “I don’t think elected people are going to consider that the pope should really be involved in some of those things,” said Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma.

There was almost immediate validation of that prediction. Despite the pope’s appeal for “a renewal of that spirit of cooperation” that has served the United States in the past, a partisan stalemate over federal funding continued just hours after his remarks. With a 52 to 47 vote, the Senate fell eight votes short of the 60 required to advance a spending measure to keep the government open after next Wednesday, because of Democratic opposition to cutting money for Planned Parenthood.

Following the stalemate, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, offered an alternative that would keep the government funded through Dec. 11 without the Planned Parenthood restrictions. The Senate will take its first vote on that plan early next week, while House leaders were also scrambling for a funding plan.

Lawmakers took some time to absorb the pope’s speech. Many said they had difficulty fully appreciating the remarks, given his halting delivery in a still-unfamiliar language, in a room with tricky acoustics. As he spoke, lawmakers strained to understand him from their seats in the chamber. Most did not have copies of his prepared text.

Still, this was an emotional occasion both inside and outside the Capitol. Speaker John A. Boehner, a proud Catholic who had pressed for the papal address, and who has been known for a propensity to cry when moved, wept repeatedly.

At the point in the speech when Pope Francis referred to the civil rights marches of the 1960s, colleagues put their arms around Representative John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who was badly beaten in a march in Selma, Ala., that has come to be known as Bloody Sunday.

Outside, the packed National Mall was a mosaic of culture and color — people in pearls and suits, migrant families sprawled out along blankets on the lawn, hipsters in bright sneakers, Catholic schoolgirls in kilts.

“Francis for president,” screamed one person as the sun beat down on one of the first brilliant Washington fall mornings of the year.

“He covered all the topics we are experiencing,” said Marisa Besseliever, an accountant from Virginia. “From immigration to the war to refugees. He may not have pleased everyone in Congress. Definitely for me, it made me think about how I can be a better person and perhaps participate more.”

The crowd had begun gathering even before daybreak, and by the time Francis arrived on the East Front in his small black Fiat, thousands had assembled on the Capitol’s West Lawn.

After cheers went up to mark the pope’s arrival, big-screen televisions positioned on the Capitol Terrace and across the lawn showed Mr. Boehner nervously pacing in his ceremonial office. Dapper in a dark suit and bright green tie, he did not seem to know he was on live camera as he fidgeted and walked among the chairs, including the two set out for him and the pope on either side of a fireplace.

Moments later, Francis and his entourage entered. After the formal greetings, Mr. Boehner joked about having wanted to wear a different tie, but the pope, through a translator, complimented the one he had on, saying it was “the color of hope.”

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