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Catholics Mobilize for Immigration Reform

Catholics leaders and organizations are among those playing a leading role in making the case for immigration reform

Fixing our immigration system will strengthen the U.S. economy, create jobs for American workers and cut the deficit according to an August White House report describing the economic benefits of immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship.  As the push for immigration reform charges into the fall, a diverse coalition of religious leaders is also calling attention to the moral aspects of this debate.  Their efforts remind us that the immigration system is designed to do more than strengthen our economy and national security: it also serves to protect those who aspire to live, work and thrive in this great nation. 

Catholics leaders and organizations are among those playing a leading role in making this case.  

In a recent piece featured in New York Daily News, Cardinal Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote, “We cannot let this opportunity pass.  Immigration reform would help families, it would help our economy and it would improve our security.  Most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.”  Cardinal Dolan announced that dioceses across the country will hold events to stress the need for commonsense immigration reform.  From California to Florida, at Masses and at marches, Catholics have stressed the urgency of the issue as well as the broad support for a path to earned citizenship.  Bishops, diocesan officials and parish representatives are meeting with their Members of Congress to show a strong, unified stance in favor of immigration reform.   Kevin Appleby, the director of immigration policy for the organization, explained why Catholics are multiplying their efforts in September: “It’s a critical time.  We need to get the Senate bill through the House.  It needs a push.  We’re doing everything right now to keep the pressure up.” 

Articles describing grassroots efforts in Arizona, Utah, Massachusetts, Nevada, Indiana and Georgia demonstrate that across the country, many other Americans are raising their voices in support of commonsense reform.  The Ignatian Solidarity Network, Faith in Public Life and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities are collaborating to engage young Catholics on this issue in over 11 Jesuit universities and Catholic colleges throughout the United States. And  NBC Latino highlights a 40 day campaign of fasting, prayer and actions of leaders and members of different religious traditions .  

The Senate’s plan to fix our broken immigration system makes sense.  It would strengthen our border security efforts and hold employers accountable to make our country more secure.   It would bring 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the shadows into the light of recognition.   Moreover, it would reunite families in a humane and timely manner and offer an earned path to citizenship for immigrants, including DREAMers and farmworkers who harvest and put food on our tables.  These proposed changes to our immigration laws embrace the teaching that all human beings should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of where they were born.

The Administration will continue to work with partners of all faiths and none as we move forward.  Together, we can reaffirm our most treasured values by reforming our immigration system. 

Melissa Rogers is Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships