This week, President Barack Obama set the change in immigration reform in motion by signing executive orders that would protect some illegal immigrants from deportation and allow some to obtain working permits.
Obama's controversial plan has been met with mixed reviews, but among those who support the order is Boston's own Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
"It's much needed relief and we applaud what he has done," O'Malley told WBZ-TV's Paul Burton while handing out Thanksgiving turkey baskets in Dorchester Saturday.
O'Malley said the president's solution is not a permanent one, but a step in the right direction.
"We have 11 million undocumented workers here is because we need it, and if they were to leave tomorrow it would leave a terrible hole in our country," O'Malley said.
Obama's plan may help to identify tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, including those living in Massachusetts. However, many Republicans disagree with the plan.
"President Obama has turned a deaf ear to the people that he was elected, and he was elected, to serve. But we will not do that as the President undermines the rule of law in our country," Speaker of the House John Boehner said in response to the order.
O'Malley said that many Catholic charities are preparing for community outreach meetings once the Department of Homeland Security presents a way that immigrants can apply for deportation protections and work permits.
"We've already started a multi-lingual telephone line so people can call in, and we will eventually give legal help for people to fill out applications so they can take advantage of this," O'Malley said.
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