Obama and Cupich meet for the first time, discuss immigration

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Chicago’s new archbishop Blase Cupich met with President Barack Obama for the first time Tuesday, discussing immigration reform and the president’s recent executive order granting new protections to those in the U.S. illegally.  

Cupich, who last week was installed as the head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, described the meeting on the president’s home turf as “delightful,” though limited to the subject of immigration. Cupich — like much of the Catholic clergy — is outspoken in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. 

He said Obama’s executive order was just a “first step” to comprehensive immigration reform. Still, he said the action will “help people come out of the shadows.”

But Cupich, at a Catholic Extension event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, said he took issue with at least one of the finer points of Obama’s executive order — a matter he raised during their talk on Tuesday. 

For example, he said, the executive order does not do enough to protect the personal information of immigrants — an oversight that could be detrimental to a population already susceptible to being scammed by “unscrupulous people.”

“It’s almost like a HIPAA rule,” Cupich explained, referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which safeguards medical information. “If . . . the executive action is overturned, or something else happens with regard to any piece of legislation, [immigrants] don’t want to be out on a limb with that kind of information out.”

As is, Cupich said scam artists prey on illegal immigrants. In some cases, scammers offer a false fast track to residency or citizenship. 

“People come forward and say, ‘We can do this for you, we can get a fast track for you’ and take their money. That happens a lot of time,” he said. 

When asked if Obama committed to changing the executive order, Cupich said the president told him that his administration would “make sure that issue is dealt with.”

Cupich also said Obama pledged to work with faith organizations, such as the Catholic Church, to protect those who are in the country illegally. 

“The president brought up that it’s important for faith communities — like the church — that have a good footprint within [immigrant] communities to help them so they are not taken advantage of, ” he said. 

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