WASHINGTON (AP) — The new leader of Newark's more than 1 million Catholics carried a strong message against President Donald Trump's immigration order as he joined the state's lobbyists on their annual schmooze-fest in Washington.
Newark Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Tobin was one of the nearly 1,000 lobbyists, business people and politicians who rode the rails from Newark to Washington on Thursday as part of the state Chamber of Commerce's annual pilgrimage to press New Jersey interests in the capital.
Tobin, who went without the silken red robs of a cardinal that Pope Francis conferred on him and instead looked more like a parish priest on the chartered train, has been a critic of Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
"Personally I think it was very misbegotten. I think it's demonizing, playing on irrational fears of people that have been fomented not simply by the political class but also some irresponsible people in the media," he said.
Tobin leads the state's biggest archdiocese, with more than 1 million adherents, and says he has been struck by the diversity in the state. He says he thinks Trump and Congress should instead focus on legislation that could fix the country's immigration laws and that he hasn't talked to anyone who thinks the laws work well.
"Are you going to chase people down the streets trying to lock them up and deport them? Or are you going to say this legislation is broken? Let's fix it," he said.
Tobin joined what has become an annual, boozy trip descried as "networking on steroids," but the cardinal joked at the event's dinner that he might have been a "wet blanket" on the party. Tom Bracken, who heads the state chamber, reassured him, though, red wine was flowing.
Tobin said the trip was valuable for him to get to know people in his new state. He became Newark's archbishop in January. Before that, he was the archbishop of Indianapolis, where he opposed then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who wanted to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in the state. Pence is now vice president.
The Newark archdiocese serves Roman Catholics in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union counties. About 20 percent are Latino and nearly as many are black.
The Trump administration said in court documents on Thursday it wants a pause in the legal fight over the ban, so it can issue a replacement ban as it aims to protect the nation from terrorism.
Details of the new proposal were not provided in the filing or at a wide-ranging news conference by Trump.