Sen. Dick Durbin is calling on churches, synagogues and mosques to carve out time this fall to discuss the so-called DREAM Act with their congregations, despite federal restrictions on lobbying that often apply to religious institutions.

The Illinois Democrat is reaching out to the faith community as he tries to advocate for passage of the controversial proposal that would provide a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants who attend college or join the military. A coalition of religious organizations — which see the bill as a humane immigration proposal — had already been pushing for what they call the DREAM Act “Sabbath.” Under the plan backed by Durbin on Tuesday, congregations across America would devote a Sabbath service this fall to discussing the immigration bill.

The senator’s office, though, insists the exercise is completely above board in terms of IRS law. Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman said the churches are not necessarily being asked to advocate for the legislation. And, in the event these congregations do dabble in advocacy, Gleischman said it certainly wouldn’t amount to lobbying.

“We’re not advocating for, nor are they advocating, the turning over of the church … to a lobbying firm to lobby on behalf of this,” he said. “They are dedicating one day … on Sabbath weekend to discussing the DREAM Act.”

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