Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's former chief strategist, said the Catholic church has an "economic interest" in "unlimited illegal immigration."
Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's former chief strategist, said the Catholic Church's opposition to Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — which Bannon said he disagrees with — is motivated by an "economic interest" in "unlimited illegal immigration."
"Unable to really — to come to grips with the problems in the church, they need illegal aliens — they need illegal aliens to fill the churches," Bannon said in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," which will air on Sunday night. "They have an economic interest in unlimited immigration, unlimited illegal immigration."
Bannon said he and many conservatives in the White House don't agree with Trump's decision to rescind the DACA program, which protects 800,000 young immigrants from deportation.
"I don't agree with that DACA decision, but I understand how he struggled with it," Bannon said. "I understand how he's giving a possibility of a legislative thing. And he said even last night in a tweet, even a tweet, he would rethink it. Trust me, the guys on the far right, the guys on the conservative side, are not happy with this."
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said Trump's decision "is certainly not Christian, and I would contend it's not American."
Bannon, a Catholic, argued that the church has no authority to speak on issues like immigration, which concern "the sovereignty of a nation," rather than religious doctrine.
"As much as I respect Cardinal Dolan and the bishops on doctrine, this is not doctrine," he added. "I totally respect the pope, and I totally respect the Catholic bishops and cardinals on doctrine. This is not about doctrine, this is about the sovereignty of a nation and, in that regard, they're just another guy with an opinion."
The Catholic Church has long supported the rights of immigrants in the US — both legal and undocumented, in some cases providing sanctuary for those at risk of deportation.
On a SiriusXM radio show this week, Dolan said Trump's decision "turns our beloved immigrants into political hockey pucks" and noted that the church is particularly important in immigrant communities.
"We are an immigrant church. They come to us first," he said. "The highest percentage of immigrants are, guess what? Catholic."
Watch the clip here: