(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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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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While Congress Make Excuses, Presidents Release Letter Urging Action, Cite Theological and Economic Impetus for CIR
(Washington, DC) - Over 90 Catholic college and university presidents released a letter this morning urging Speaker John Boehner and fellow members of the House of Representatives to quickly move forward on commonsense immigration reform that fills both the moral duties and practical needs of our nation. Standing with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic university and college presidents urged Members of Congress to recognize that our current “immigration system is so deeply flawed, and in such urgent need of repair, that inaction is unacceptable.”
The letter, released on a press call this morning, was spearheaded by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and Faith in Public Life.
“As educators, we know the nation’s truly indispensable resource is its people, particularly its youth; as presidents of Catholic institutions, we recognize the call to treat all with dignity,” said Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame. “We urge lawmakers to adopt immigration reform that will both give aspiring Americans a path to citizenship and to becoming full contributors to our society, and to treat them with the dignity every human being deserves.”
Mary E. Lyons, President of the University of San Diego, spoke to the issue from her unique perspective as president of a university just miles from the U.S.- Mexican border.
“Our university sees firsthand that a broken immigration system that tears children from parents and militarizes border communities is not a moral or practical way forward. I’m proud to stand with my fellow university leaders in urging Congress to pass common sense reform that includes a path to citizenship. This is imperative if we wish to keep families together and help our nation meet the demands of a new global economy.”
Archbishop Jose Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration said he “…welcomes the support of the Catholic presidents for immigration reform. They are a welcome voice in this debate, as they see the potential and talent in newly arriving immigrants. Immigrants, especially youth, are important for our nation’s future and competitiveness. Educators understand the importance of investing in immigrant youth so they can become tomorrow’s leaders.”
And while the House of Representatives continues to delay much needed reform, individuals personally affected by America’s broken system urged Congress to act now and allow 11 million aspiring Americans the opportunity to contribute to our nation.
“America is my home. I grew up here, and I took my first communion here,” said Diego Sanchez, a DREAMer and 2013 graduate of St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. “I want to keep giving back to our nation. But Speaker Boehner is keeping me, my family and millions of people just like us from earning our citizenship. We’re praying for him to do the right thing and stop standing in the way of common-sense reform.”
A survey just released from United Technologies and National Journal Congressional Connection indicates that the Catholic college and university presidents are not only in agreement with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, but with a majority of Americans (55%) who support a pathway to citizenship. Today’s survey follows months of polling demonstrating bipartisan support for common sense reform.
“Our Catholic faith teaches us to help the less fortunate than ourselves,” said John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America. “More prosperous nations have an obligation to help those who come to their borders seeking security or employment. The United States – as the richest nation on earth – has the foremost obligation to do so. That’s why Catholics of all political persuasions should support comprehensive immigration reform.”
Catholic university and college presidents will continue to advocate on Capitol Hill and in their home states to urge members of Congress to pass a path to citizenship. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will also circulate the president’s letter as part of their ongoing advocacy efforts, and the university presidents will personally be calling on their Members of Congress to step up to the plate.
“Not only will a roadmap to citizenship honor traditional Catholic principles of justice and solidarity, but here in Ohio it will strengthen our universities and help reinvigorate our economy,” said Dr. Daniel Curran, President of the University of Dayton. “The sooner Congress votes on comprehensive reform, the better off our nation will be.”
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