Outside the Supreme Court Thursday, a somewhat unlikely bunch gathered: a group of nuns, just off a bus, shouting about immigration.
The "Nuns on the Bus," a Washington-based Catholic pressure group that previously fought against GOP budget cuts and spoke at the Democratic National Convention, has now turned its attention to immigration reform as a massive reform bill is expected to hit the Senate floor in June.
To get their pro-immigration message across, the nuns are making a nationwide bus tour that will pass through 15 states, make 54 stops and cover some 6,500 miles. They began Wednesday near Ellis Island, the passageway for millions of immigrants to the United States during the early 1990s. The nuns will end in mid-June near Angel Island, once a processing point for many Asian immigrants and today known as the "Ellis Island of the West."
Sister Simone Campbell, who leads the Nuns on the Bus, says immigration reform is a natural fit for the group. "Immigration is at the heart of our Catholic faith. It's about community. We need to welcome the stranger, and treat the stranger as yourself," she says.
In the coming weeks, the nuns will hold rallies, prayer services and press conferences, as well as pass out postcards for people to write down their own stories of immigration. Those postcards will later be delivered to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
In addition to Washington D.C., the nuns will stop in most of the states represented by senators who belong to the "gang of eight," the bipartisan group of lawmakers who authored the sweeping immigration reform legislation.
On Wednesday, the nuns visited New Jersey, whose Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, is a gang of eight member. Juan Pachon, a spokesman for Menendez, says the senator supports the nuns' efforts. "The commitment of the faith community and immigration reform advocates will be key to the success of comprehensive immigration reform," Pachon said.