August 28, 2013, 11:30 am | Posted by

Pressure Continues to Build as Lawmakers Wrap Up August Recess


(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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My Word: Vatican must work to heal nuns’ wounds

August 16, 2013, 3:19 pm | Posted by

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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Prominent Clergy, Labor and Community Leaders Tell Speaker Boehner: Passing Roadmap to Citizenship is “Moral, Smart, and Urgent”

July 27, 2013, 3:54 pm | Posted by

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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Hundreds march in Springfield for immigration reform

July 27, 2013, 10:37 am | Posted by

FPL organized local press outreach for the rally.

Several hundred people rallied Saturday for immigration reform outside U.S. Rep. John Boehner’s Springfield office, calling on the House Speaker to follow the Senate and forge a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.

Organizers, which included a coalition of faith and labor groups, had hoped to lead 500 people in a short, boisterous march from the Clark State Performing Arts Center parking lot to City Hall, where the West Chester Republican has an office.

Participants were bused in from as far away as Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky, where they joined with local Hispanics, African immigrants from Columbus and others.

“This picture is America today, right in Speaker Boehner’s district,” said the Rev. Troy Jackson, director of the clergy group Ohio Prophetic Voices, which largely organized the two-hour rally.

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Immigration rally: ‘We must act’

July 27, 2013, 10:19 am | Posted by

Faith in Public Life organized local press outreach for the rally and march.

Hundreds of supporters of immigration reform rallied in Springfield Saturday to urge House Speaker John Boehner to push for a broad path to citizenship.

Religious leaders, union officials, legal advocates, residents and busloads of out-of-town supporters gathered in a parking lot in the downtown and later marched to City Hall, where the congressman has a local office.

“We’re here to ensure that pathway to citizenship is part of a bill that emerges and gets voted on quickly,” the Rev. Troy Jackson, director of Ohio Prophetic Voices, told the crowd.

“We don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. We know looking back to the Civil Rights era there were a lot of people sitting on their hands and we say ‘shame on them – we must act,’” said Jeff Cook, a professor of Bible and Urban Ministry from Cedarville University, who also spoke.

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