WASHINGTON — Archbishop José Gomez, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, praised the Senate’s passage of an immigration bill, saying it would allow migrants to “come out of the shadows and into the light.”

“The status quo of our current system causes much suffering among immigrants and their families and must end,” the Los Angeles archbishop said June 28.

“I commend the U.S. Senate on the vote and for the bipartisan cooperation displayed during the legislative process,” he added.

The bill passed by the Senate is intended to allow the estimated 11 million illegal residents of the U.S. to obtain provisional immigrant status if they meet certain conditions. These immigrants would be offered a 13-year path to citizenship if they pay fines and taxes and meet other criteria, including work requirements.

The legislation states, however, that these provisions can only go into the effect after certain increased border security measures are in place.

The Senate passed the immigration-reform bill June 27 by a vote of 68 to 32. It is expected to face significant opposition in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where many congressmen and women have said they will reject any bill that offers a path to full citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

Archbishop Gomez said the bishops' committee disagrees with parts of the bill but sees it as an overall improvement from the current situation, according to a statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He explained that the bishops’ conference is continuing to ask for improvements to the legislation, including a more accessible route to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“Our work is not finished,” the archbishop said. “The Church will continue to fight for the rights of migrants, both during the current debate and into the future.”