The Outreach/Social Justice Board for St. Francis de Sales and for Our Lady of the Lake has initiated a letter writing campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and also because of the President’s recent decision on DACA (Deferred Action on Child Arrivals). These are critical and often controversial issues but we’re initiating this campaign because as Catholics we are called to take action, to lend our voices in support of those who are most vulnerable. This is the message of the gospel. Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” (Mt. 25)
In response to the President’s action on Sept. 5 a committee of US bishops issued a statement which has since then been endorsed by more of our bishops. The following is an excerpt.
“In light of many years of failure by Congress, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats, to address the situation, the Committee urges the Catholic faithful and all people of good will to contact their representatives in Congress to urge the passage of the DREAM Act or similar legislation as a prompt, humane, and durable solution to this problem of greatest urgency. The Executive Committee also notes the tremendous contributions of the DACA youth to date as extraordinary, including the fact that many serve in our military.”
Below is the letter that will be available after Masses on the weekend of 10/14-15/2017.
This letter will be a bulletin insert in both Holland Catholic parishes on Sept. 30-Oct. 1. There will be 3 differently colored letters for Senators Stabenow and Peters, and for Congressman Huizenga or Upton. This letter outlines concepts that our bishops see as essential in comprehensive immigration reform. These principles are based on the social justice teaching of the Church which in turn are all rooted in our Scriptures and our Faith. We must honor the dignity of each person and rights that derive from that. We must protect the unity of the family, etc.
October 15, 2017
Dear __________________ (Senator Peters, Senator Stabenow, or Representative Huizenga or Representative Upton)
As a constituent, I feel compelled to seek your active support for the passage of legislation on comprehensive immigration reform before the 2018 elections. I urge you to listen with an open heart to your constituents, and the millions in our country who are undocumented. Most of our undocumented sisters and brothers are living the same values we hold dear as Americans.
Our Catholic Bishops have already communicated with Congress in many ways and times about the following six principles that we believe must be part of this comprehensive immigration reform.
- A broad based legalization with a path to citizenship
- Reform of our family-based immigration system to allow family members to reunite with loved ones (current reunification in the US can often take years)
- Reform of the employment-based immigration system to provide legal pathways for migrants to come and work in a safe, humane, and orderly manner
- Restoration of due process protections for immigrants
- An enforcement strategy at the borders and internally that focuses on those who truly threaten public safety while being mindful of the common good
- And addressing the root causes of migration (desperation, fear of violence, and lack of opportunities to provide for themselves and their families) which compel people to leave their homelands
Reform of our immigration system is not a Republican or Democrat issue; it’s a huge challenge that must be addressed and resolved by all of us in a humane way that honors the dignity of each of us. Our country was founded on immigrants; let us continue to be the country that welcomes the stranger and honors the gifts that they contribute to the common good of who we are as a country.
So I urge you to seriously consider the six principles outlined above in fashioning the comprehensive immigration reform legislation that is urgently needed. I pray that you and other legislators will remember the words of Jesus, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Printed Name Address
Here is an excerpt from a letter written recently to Congress by the Chair of the bishops’ Committee on Migration.
The bishops respect the right of the federal government to control our borders and ensure security for all Americans. However, we oppose the construction of a wall like the one that is envisioned by this proposed appropriation. Indeed, we fear that construction of such a wall would put immigrant lives needlessly in harm’s way, could increase the risk of women and child migrants being trafficked, and destabilize the many interconnected communities that live peacefully along the border. Moreover, an expenditure of the amount of funding necessary to construct such a wall does not reflect a proper prioritization of scarce federal funds in a time of fiscal austerity. – Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration