On Saturday, October 5th, tens of thousands of people took part in more than 180 events in 40 states as part of a National Day for Dignity and Respect, calling on the House of Representatives to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
In Springfield, Ohio, prominent clergy, labor leaders, immigrant families and hundreds of people braved the rain and marched to Speaker John Boehner’s office and told him to get back to work and pass reform that includes a path to citizenship for people who are trapped in the shadows.
“The time for political games and delays is over,” said Rev. Troy Jackson, Director of Ohio Prophetic Voices and one of the organizers of the event. “Immigrant families are torn apart every day while Congress sits on the sidelines. We’re not backing down until Speaker Boehner and Members of Congress heed the faith community’s demand for commonsense immigration reform.”
Rev. Mother Paula Jackson of the Church of Our Savior in Cincinnati said “The Torah, the prophets, and the Gospel all require us to welcome the immigrants who live among us. We are calling on Speaker Boehner to give comprehensive immigration reform a vote: to bring hardworking people out of the shadows, to stop destroying the families of citizen children, and to provide a path to citizenship for people who are contributing to our society.”
Saturday’s national day of action was only the beginning. Today, faith leaders and tens of thousands of people are gathering on Capitol Hill to demand that Congress get back to work on passing immigration reform. Students at Catholic colleges are mobilizing for the cause. Later this month, congregations will drives thousands of phone calls to Congressional offices to make the moral case that the Republican-led House of Representatives must pass reform that protects families and workers and builds a pathway to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
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Hundreds Rally outside Boehner’s Springfield Office, Urge Congress to Pass Long Overdue Reform
Springfield, OH – Hundreds of people, including immigrant families, faith leaders and labor leaders, marched to Speaker John Boehner’s Springfield office today to call on him to immediately pass immigration reform that includes a roadmap to citizenship. The Springfield event was one of 177 events in 40 states across the country as part of a national day of action to urge Congress to move forward with long-overdue reform.
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.
Faith leaders spoke out at the march about the moral principles at stake in the immigration debate.
“The time for political games and delays is over,” said Rev. Troy Jackson, Director of Ohio Prophetic Voices. “Immigrant families are torn apart every day while Congress sits on the sidelines. We’re not backing down until Speaker Boehner and Members of Congress heed the faith community’s demand for commonsense immigration reform.”
Rev. Mother Paula Jackson of the Church of Our Savior in Cincinnati said, “The Torah, the prophets, and Gospel all require us to welcome the immigrants who live among us. We are calling on Speaker Boehner to give Comprehensive Immigration Reform a vote: to bring hardworking people out of the shadows, to stop destroying the families of citizen children, and to provide a path to citizenship for people who are contributing to our society.”
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.
Marco Saavedra, a DREAMer and member of the DREAM 9, said, “Every day that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans fail to pass a path to citizenship, a staggering 1,100 families are torn apart by deportations. We can’t stand by and watch this occur any longer. I call on both Congress and the President to treat this like the moral outrage it is – starting with a just and fair end to the detention of the Dream30.”
“We call on Speaker Boehner to take action right now to pass commonsense immigration reform that will grow Ohio’s economy and protect its workers,” said Bill Dudley, Director of Strategic Campaigns at the United Food and Commercial Workers. “Reform that includes a road to citizenship is good for all Ohio workers — immigrant and native-born alike. That’s why labor leaders and the faith community stand together to demand that Congress get back to work on this urgent priority.”
The rally at Boehner’s Springfield office was a part of a National Day for Dignity and Respect targeting House members around the country, demanding that they pass comprehensive immigration reform. 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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(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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Yesterday, Faith in Public Life helped to organize an immigration reform roundtable discussion in Houston which featured local clergy leaders and members of the business and political community at the University of St. Thomas. The diverse, bipartisan panel urged Rep. Ted Poe and other members of Texas’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives to help pass long-overdue, common sense immigration reform.
“Every day, Houston pastors encounter children and young adults whose families have been torn apart by America’s failed immigration system,” said Senior Pastor Tim Moore of Walk Worthy Baptist Church. “We will not be silent while these anti-family policies wreak havoc in our communities. We urge Rep. Poe and fellow members of Texas’ Congressional delegation to examine the tenets of their faith and give us a vote on comprehensive immigration reform with an earned pathway to citizenship.”
Pastor Diane McGehee, Director of the Center for Missional Excellence at Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, sees firsthand the impact of the United States’ broken immigration system on Houston families and parishioners. Even as a licensed attorney she can’t navigate our immigration laws without help and great expense.
“We need Congress to pass immigration reform right now that protects immigrant families and workers, and includes a path to citizenship. The system we have right now is broken, hopelessly complex, and devastates hard working immigrants who come here to build a better life for themselves and their families. How we treat our fellow human beings as made in the image of God is central to our faith as Christians,” she explained.
Prominent local business and political figures echoed the call for immigration reform that strengthens Texas’ economy and protects immigrants from exploitation.
“A sensible immigration bill is vital for our city, state, and nation,” said Stan Marek, a leading figure in Houston’s business community and President and CEO of the Marek Family of Companies. “An estimated 2.1 million undocumented reside within our Texas borders and it’s time they were brought out of the shadows. Too many are working in low paying jobs and in a sense being held hostage because of their status. We need to demand now that our members in the House take seriously their obligation to pass a bill into the Conference Committee.”
As the immigration reform movement continues to gain steam in Houston and across the United States, Members of Congress need to act now to reform our broken system. Across the country, similar events are taking place as faith, business, labor and law enforcement communities team up to demand legislation that will bring our neighbors, parishioners, customers, students, and friends out of the shadows and give them opportunity to fully engage in America’s economy and democracy.
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Even though the House of Representatives leadership has been stalling the immigration reform debate for months now, faith leaders are still ratcheting up the pressure.
This past Sunday, congregations in Catholic dioceses across the country gave homilies and held events calling on Congress to pass immigration reform that protects immigrant families and builds a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring Americans. The following day, leaders of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition announced the launch of Fast Action for Immigration Reform, a 40-day prayer and fasting campaign thousands of people of faith nationwide will participate in as Congress gets back to work this fall.
Today a Faith and Business Roundtable organized by Faith in Public Life at the University of St. Thomas in Houston will feature prominent local evangelical, mainline Protestant and Catholic leaders calling on Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) to support reform that includes a path to citizenship. Poe is an important figure in the Congressional debate, and St. Thomas is in his district.The Christian Community Development Association’s national conference this week is also mobilizing evangelical leaders to continue praying and working for reform.
All of these actions come on the heels of an August congressional recess in which thousands of faith leaders from coast to coast held scores of events urging House Members to support immigration reform.
Anti-immigrant politicians who thought they could quietly kill reform by delaying the legislative process underestimated the faith community’s commitment. We’re not going to waver just because it’s taking longer than expected.
A moment of truth
Immigration reform has attracted bipartisan support in both Houses of Congress – at least 26 Republican House Members support a path to citizenship. If Speaker John Boehner would allow a House vote on the bipartisan Senate bill today, there would be a White House signing ceremony within a week. It really is that simple.
Boehner faces a test of leadership and a test of conscience. He can continue to side with anti-immigrant demagogues like Steve King, or he can listen to the faith community and reform a failed system that destroys families and makes a mockery of our nation’s values. As House Members signal that they’ll resume work on immigration next month, the moment of truth could come very soon.
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