Archbishop José Gomez and Truthdig Managing Editor Eric Ortiz.

Archbishop José Gomez is an immigrant himself: Born in Monterrey, Mexico, he became a United States citizen more than 20 years ago.

“It was a great blessing,” the archbishop says of his citizenship. On Friday, Truthdig Managing Editor Eric Ortiz sat down with Gomez at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles for a conversation about immigration, the undocumented community in Los Angeles and the future of immigration policy under Donald Trump. Watch the full conversation below:

“Let’s find and put together an immigration system that works,” Gomez tells Ortiz. “We need to encourage our elected officials.”

As the fifth and current archbishop of Los Angeles, Gomez regularly uses his platform to advocate for immigration reform. “I see the need for us immigrants to help other people understand we really want the best for them,” Gomez says.

Immigration reform is also a prominent subject among Catholic communities in Los Angeles. This week the Archdiocese of Los Angeles launched a bilingual website, The Next America, aimed at “shar[ing] the Christian perspective on immigration.”

“They are really good people,” Gomez says of the wide range of immigrants who come to his church. But he tells Ortiz that undocumented-immigrant communities in Los Angeles are full of fear now that Trump is in office. “I think the reality of what President Trump has been talking about … it tells us about the urgency of finding a system that works.”

When asked about Trump’s recent meeting with Pope Francis, Gomez is optimistic. “I hope that one of the topics of conversation between Trump and [the pope] was immigration,” he says, noting that the pope cares deeply about immigration and the current refugee crisis.

The Next America website launch coincided with Gomez’s “Mass in Recognition of All Immigrants,” held Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. He told the congregation:

I know that many of you came to this country—at great sacrifice and suffering. It cost you a lot. You were forced to leave everything behind. All to follow this promise. All to make a better life for your children, for your families. …

This year again, as we celebrate this Mass for all Immigrants, we know that our country is still divided over immigration. And we know that many of our brothers and sisters are still suffering. Many of you who are here today. …

Let us pray for our country today. May we know peace and security and freedom in our borders, and may our children be blessed. Let us pray for our leaders in Washington and all those who serve our country in government and law enforcement.

Watch the full homily in the video below:

The issue of immigration also is the subject of Gomez’s new book, “Immigration and the Next America: Renewing the Soul of Our Nation.”

“Immigration is a human rights test of our generation. It’s also a defining historical moment for America,” Gomez wrote in the book’s introduction. “The meaning of this hour is that we need to renew our country in the image of her founding promises of universal rights rooted in God. Immigration is about more than immigration. It’s about renewing the soul of America.”

Gomez has spent much of 2017 discussing the overlap of immigration and Catholicism, urging his listeners to remember that the conversation is about “souls, not statistics.”

“In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles we are, in many ways, a culture of immigrants, a culture of encounter,” he told students at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. “I do not believe there is any public policy purpose that is served by taking away some little girl’s dad or some little boy’s mom. We are breaking up families and punishing kids for the mistakes of their parents. And that’s not right.”

Watch more of Truthdig’s live interviews here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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