While tech and business groups remain the most active lobbyists on immigration, first quarter financial disclosures released Monday show religious groups have also begun shelling out big dollars on the issue.
Once among the smallest lobbyists, the Catholic Health Association last quarter spent $130,000 lobbying on immigration reform, while the American Jewish Committee spent $40,000 — double what it spent the previous quarter.
Many religious groups say immigration reform has a lot to with their shared values of family, justice and community. A March Pew study found that majorities of all major religious groups believe immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally but meet certain requirements should have a path to citizenship.
Comments by several Republican lawmakers that the Boston bombings should slow the immigration debate are only encouraging these groups to push harder.
"There are always certain individuals opposed to immigration reform that will seize any opportunity to bolster a case against immigration reform," American Jewish Committee spokesman Kenneth Bandler tells Whispers. "As tragic as the attack at the Boston marathon was, we can't condemn an entire group based on the actions of what we know are two individuals ... and it won't stop the progress being made on immigration reform."
A comprehensive immigration reform bill was released by the bipartisan Gang of Eight last Wednesday.
Evangelical groups have also ramped up their lobbying efforts on immigration reform. A group that calls itself the Evangelical Immigration Table named April 17 the "Evangelical Day of Prayer and Action for Immigration Reform," during which it pushed hard for Congress to support a "biblical vision" for immigration reform.
Social justice groups like the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd are also spending on immigration lobbying; the group was paid $10,000 by a parent agency last quarter to work for immigration reform that would "protect family unity."
Other religious that lobby for immigration reform include the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, New Evangelicals for the Common Good and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.