(Washington, DC) – In a sign that momentum for immigration reform continues to grow, 25 Catholic colleges released details today of a joint national advocacy effort in support of comprehensive reform with a pathway to citizenship. From a Mass on the U.S.- Mexico border led by Loyola Marymount University to vigils at Creighton University dedicated to immigrant families, Catholic students and education leaders are hosting dozens of special Masses, organizing Catholic DREAMers, sponsoring text message campaigns and contacting their local Members of Congress at their district offices.
“The advocacy of presidents, students and campus ministers from Catholic universities sends a clear moral message to elected officials that we must act now to fix our broken immigration system,” said Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Georgetown University. “I hope the many graduates of Catholic universities in Congress heed this call to put human dignity and the common good before narrow-minded partisanship.” The number of Catholics in Congress is at a historic high, including 136 in the House of Representatives.
Today’s announcement of coordinated campaigns, spearheaded by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Ignatian Solidarity Network and Faith in Public Life, follows a July letter from more than 100 Catholic university presidents that urged Speaker John Boehner and the U.S. House of Representatives to fix an immigration system they described as “morally indefensible.”
The flurry of actions, Masses, forums and student organizing is taking place on Catholic colleges representing more than 100,000 students. The fall advocacy effort adds momentum to calls for common sense reform fueled by a broad coalition of religious, business and labor leaders.
“Catholic students put their faith into action when they stand up for immigrant families,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles. “Young men and women at Catholic colleges bring vital energy and inspiration to our national movement for immigration reform.” In Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University campus ministry leaders will take students to the U.S-Mexico border for a vigil and Mass on Sept. 29.
The Ignatian Solidarity Network has launched a “Fall Call for Immigration Reform” urging all 28 Jesuit Catholic colleges and universities to take actions in support of humane and responsible reform.
“Campus leaders are fired up and mobilized to make sure no more families are torn apart by deportation and inhumane immigration policies,” said Christopher Kerr, Executive Director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “Catholic colleges are organized, unified and determined to make an impact. Our grassroots movement is a reminder to those in power that immigration reform is about values and real people, not legislative procedures or political scorekeeping.”
At the University of Notre Dame, which recently announced it will admit undocumented immigrants, campus leaders are organizing a text message campaign – NDream – to help students mobilize campus events and contact Members of Congress.
“I am inspired to see the passion our students have shown in support of immigration reform,” said Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame. “Many stand with Catholic bishops in calling for Congress to pass humane and responsible immigration reform.”
At Loyola University in Chicago, campus and student leaders have created a “Safe Spaces” support network for immigrants that include training and resources. In June, the university’s medical school became the first in the country to allow undocumented students to apply under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“Young aspiring Americans bravely face the consequences of our failed immigration system each day,” said Pedro Guerrero, President of the Unified Student Government Association at the Loyola University Chicago. “We can’t be silent while these outdated and inadequate policies inflict havoc on our friends, neighbors and families. As students with a stake in our democracy and as future workers who will compete in a new global economy, we urge Illinois’ Congressional delegation to give us a vote on common-sense immigration reform with an earned pathway to citizenship.”
The following is a list of advocacy actions, Masses and events at Catholic universities.
- 20 Catholic colleges are planning special Masses for immigration reform, including Georgetown University, Boston College, Cabrini College, Canisius College, Creighton University, Fairfield University and Loyola University of Chicago.
- Students are launching a text message campaign to build events on campus and contact their Members of Congress at Cabrini College, Misericordia University, Neumann University, Notre Dame University and Villanova University.
- Immigration reform town hall meetings were held at Creighton University (Sept. 4), the University of St. Thomas in Houston (9/12), and forums are being planned at Fairfield University and Misericordia University.
- The University of San Diego, Canisius College, Fordham University, Loyola University of Maryland and the University of San Francisco have organized postcard writing drives for students on campus.
- Film screenings on immigration themes will be staged at the University of San Francisco and Villanova.
- Vigils dedicated to immigrant families are being planned at Creighton and the University of San Diego, where on Sept. 25 students will hold a vigil and Mass.
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Pressure Continues to Build as Lawmakers Wrap Up August Recess
As the pro-immigration reform movement continues to build momentum across the United States, PICO National Network Action Fund, the Diocese of Reno, Nevada, and Faith in Public Life Action Fund launched radio ads in key markets this week urging constituents to call their representatives and voice their support for comprehensive immigration reform. In their respective communities, clergy leaders and local students encourage constituents to call House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Reps. Mark Amodei (NV-2), Dennis Ross (FL-15), Gus Billrakis (FL-12) and Lee Terry (NE-2) to support moral immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.
The ads started running on Monday, August 26.
The Diocese of Reno and PICO National Network Action Fund teamed up for an ad featuring high-school student Sam Mendoza, whose father is undocumented, and Fr. Francisco Nahoe, OFM, of St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno directed at Rep. Amodei.
In Omaha, the spot features Maria Hernandez, a local college student whose parents are undocumented, and Sr. Kathleen Erickson of the Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Mercy Community Justice Office. The ad encourages constituents to urge Terry to support a pathway to citizenship so families like Maria’s aren’t “…threatened with separation because of our broken immigration laws.”
“Congressman Terry has a clear choice to make,” said Kathleen Grant, Co-Chair of Omaha Together One Community’s Immigration Action Team. “Will he side with extremists like Steve King, or with Omaha families like Maria’s? The faith community will not rest until comprehensive immigration reform is enacted. Because without reform, families remain separated and millions of immigrants will be relegated to a permanent underclass – we people of faith will not stand for that.”
In ads launched in Florida targeting Reps. Ross and Billrakis, recent high school graduate Rosalba Ortiz joins with Pastor Leo Trevino of Church of God in Lakeview to say “she’s just a regular American kid, but ‘every day I pray [my family] won’t be deported.’” Pastor Trevino adds that constituents should call their representatives so families like Rosalba’s “…can live out their God-given gifts in America.”
In Bakersfield, CA, where the pro-immigration reform movement grows stronger every day, the radio ads feature DREAMer and CSU Bakersfield graduate Lorena Lara alongside Sr. Marie Francis Schroepfer of the Diocese of Fresno urging constituents to call House Majority Whip McCarthy so aspiring Americans like Lorena “can work towards an earned path to citizenship.”
Throughout the month of August, the PICO National Network turned up the heat on members of the House of Representatives, pressuring members to declare their support for a direct, inclusive and affordable pathway to citizenship for all 11 million aspiring Americans. Through events in 12 states and 30 congressional districts attended by nearly 50,000 faith and community leaders the Summer for Citizenship will powerfully demonstrate what polls have already shown, that people of faith overwhelmingly support a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented Americans.
From their presence at local town hall meetings to the placement of radio ads across the United States, clergy and other leaders in the pro-immigration movement are keeping up the pressure. They will not stop until aspiring Americans, like these students and their families, are brought out of the shadows and able to fully participate in America’s democracy and economy. The time is now for the U.S. House of Representatives to bring legislation to a vote and pass immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.
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Pressure Continues to Build as Lawmakers Wrap Up August Recess
AUDIO AVAILABLE HERE
(Omaha, Nebraska) – As the pro-immigration reform movement continues to build momentum across the United States, Omaha-area faith leaders launched local radio ads this week urging Representative Lee Terry’s (NE-2) constituents to call his district office and voice their support for comprehensive immigration reform.
The ads, sponsored by Faith in Public Life Action Fund, started on Monday, August 26, and will run through Friday, August 30. Featuring Maria Hernandez, a local college student whose parents are undocumented, and Sr. Kathleen Erickson of the Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Mercy Community Justice Office, the ad encourages local constituents to urge Terry to support a pathway to citizenship so families like Maria’s, aren’t “…threatened with separation because of our broken immigration laws.”
“Congressman Terry has a clear choice to make,” said Kathleen Grant, Co-Chair of Omaha Together One Community’s Immigration Action Team. “Will he side with extremists like Steve King, or with Omaha families like Maria’s? The faith community will not rest until comprehensive immigration reform is enacted, because without reform, families remain separated and millions of immigrants will be relegated to a permanent underclass – we people of faith will not stand for that.”
With degrees from Catholic institutions such as Creighton University and Creighton Law School, Rep. Terry would honor his education and serve his constituents well by paying attention to the social teachings of the Catholic Church.
“The time is now to pass common sense immigration reform that reflects the Catholic tradition of honoring and defending all human beings, regardless of legal status,” said Sister Laura Reicks, President of the Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Community. “We stand with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other faith leaders in calling for an end to the exploitation of immigrant families and the passage of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. This reflects not only the teachings of our Catholic faith, but also the highest values of our nation.”
From their presence at local town hall meetings to the placement of radio ads across Omaha, clergy and other leaders in the pro-immigration movement are keeping up the pressure. They will not stop until aspiring Americans, like Maria’s parents and thousands of other families, are brought out of the shadows and able to fully participate in America’s democracy and economy. The time is now for the Rep. Lee Terry and the U.S. House of Representatives to pass immigration reform including a pathway to citizenship.
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Catholic sisters have gathered for a national meeting in Orlando this week under close scrutiny. An archbishop tasked by the Vatican with overhauling the organization that represents most U.S. nuns will be keeping a watchful eye on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
The Vatican issued a report last spring criticizing the sisters for promoting “radical feminist themes” and not doing enough to oppose abortion and same-sex marriage.
The high-profile scolding prompted widespread displays of support for nuns across the country. Americans have signed petitions and opened their checkbooks to show support for these women of grace and grit. This outpouring of respect and admiration is well-deserved.
Nuns in the Orlando area have long been on the front lines of low-income communities. In Apopka, Catholic sisters are helping farmworkers and migrant families by providing literacy and citizenship classes, social services and spiritual care.
Catholic nuns’ tireless support for immigration reform, living-wage jobs and effective programs that help struggling families underscores that being “pro-life” doesn’t stop with defending life in the womb.
Now that Pope Francis is drawing rave reviews for his engaging style and emphasis on social justice, could there be an opening to repair the breach between nuns and the Vatican? The pope sparked a flurry of media coverage recently for his comments about gays. “If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?” he asked.
Less noticed was his candid acknowledgment that the Catholic Church lacks “a truly deep theology of women.” A woman’s role does not “end just with being a mother and with housework,” he told reporters, noting that in church history Mary is more important than Jesus’ male apostles.
These words are not revolutionary. Women run corporations and serve as heads of state. The pope’s comments may even sound quaint. But for a global church that frequently operates like a monarchy, this pope has signaled the need for greater dialogue and collegiality.
The Vatican has every reason to begin healing the wounds caused by its heavy-handed treatment of women religious. For a church that has struggled with headlines filled with scandal, nuns are good news.
John Gehring is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, an advocacy group in Washington.
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500+ People Rally outside Boehner’s Springfield Office, Urge Congress to Stop Stalling on Long Overdue Reform
(Dayton, OH) – More than 500 people, including immigrant families, faith leaders and labor leaders, marched to Speaker John Boehner’s Springfield office today to call on him to immediately passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation that includes a roadmap to citizenship. As Speaker John Boehner himself recently said, the time to fix America’s broken immigration system is “long overdue.” Ohioans agree that the time is “long overdue” and that immediately creating a roadmap to citizenship is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.
Sponsored by Ohio Prophetic Voices, PICO National Network’s Campaign for Citizenship, Cincinnati Workers Center, SEIU, UFCW and IUE-CWA, the march featured prominent clergy, labor leaders and diverse people of faith urging Congress to recognize that fixing America’s broken immigration system is crucial for Ohio’s families and economy. Reform will put $4.6 billion in Ohioans’ pockets over ten years and create 1,100 new jobs in Ohio per year.
“As a person of faith, I am committed to welcoming aspiring Americans,” said Mayor Warren Copeland of Springfield. “The current immigration policy is inhumane. It divides us as a country and we need to urgently fix this broken system.”
Faith leaders spoke out at the march about the moral principles at stake in the immigration debate.
“Speaker Boehner has an urgent choice to make right now,” said Rev. Troy Jackson, Director of Ohio Prophetic Voices. “Will he let Steve King dictate the Republican immigration agenda, or will he heed the teachings of his Catholic faith about the dignity of immigrants? The clear, moral thing to do is pass a roadmap to citizenship right now.”
Father Jorge Ochoa, formerly of St. Charles Borromeo parish in Cincinnati, said “The Gospel could not be any clearer about our moral responsibility to protect immigrant workers and families. We join the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in calling for common sense immigration reform and a roadmap to citizenship that brings 11 million aspiring Americans out of the shadows and ends the exploitation of our immigrant brothers and sisters.”
Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati, sent a letter in support, which said in part, “We hope and pray that the U.S. House of Representatives and its leaders will advance the cause of comprehensive immigration reform that allows our nation to protect its borders and provides for family reunification, stronger workers’ rights, and pathways to citizenship. Should they fail, should they vote for the status quo, then no one wins — not migrants or their families, not law enforcement, not our economy or communities, not America.”
Labor leaders and immigrants at the march spoke to the devastation caused by our broken system and the benefits of immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship.
“We call on Speaker Boehner to pass commonsense immigration laws that will grow Ohio’s economy, and reject the extreme rhetoric of anti-immigrant voices within the House of Representatives” said Esther Lopez, Director of Civil Rights and Community Action at the United Food and Commercial Workers. “Reform that includes a road to citizenship is good for all workers — immigrant and native-born alike. That’s why labor leaders and the faith community stand together to urge Speaker Boehner and fellow members of the House to immediately pass a roadmap to citizenship.”
Julio Tellez, a DREAMer from Hamilton facing deportation, said “While DREAM Act provisions are crucial, so is a path to citizenship that will keep all undocumented families – together. Speaker Boehner can make the choice to keep DREAMers and families together, or he can align himself with anti-immigrant voices who are proposing to separate children and young adults from their parents permanently.That’s not only immoral, it’s frankly un-American. DREAMers and the people of Ohio deserve better.”
The rally at Speaker Boehner’s Springfield office was part of a national day of action targeting House GOP leaders in their home states. Other actions include a rally outside the Office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and an event at the office of Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois. Immigrant families and faith and labor leaders will continue to urge the Republican-led House of Representatives to stop obstructing crucial reform and immediately pass a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
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