Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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JUSTICE FOR IMMIGRANTS CAMPAIGN TO HOLD REGIONAL CONVENING IN OHIO, MARCH 26-28

WASHINGTON—The Justice For Immigrants (JFI) campaign of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will hold a regional convening and training near Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 26-28. The convening, which will take place at the Kings Island Conference Center in Mason, will bring together immigration reform supporters from Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Michigan to provide them with coalition building skills, advocacy tools and other materials to strengthen and grow the support base for immigration reform. It will also seek to arm advocates with updated Catholic messages and educational pieces to continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

 “Comprehensive immigration reform remains a priority for the Catholic church. The convening in Cincinnati will provide the necessary training and educational tools for immigration reform and JFI supporters to continue to grow the grass roots base that seeks humane and compassionate changes to our nation’s immigration system,” said Johnny Young, executive director of the Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB.

 “JFI is looking to draw attendees from Ohio and the surrounding states because of the region’s large population of Catholics,” said Antonio Cube, JFI manager. “We know that the majority of Catholics have heard the bishops’ call for immigration reform but have not felt compelled enough to act. By convening in Cincinnati, the JFI campaign is looking to seize upon the opportunity to educate the region’s many Catholics about the church’s position on immigration reform and urge them to act on it. We invite Catholics, other people of faith, and supporters of comprehensive immigration reform to attend the convening,” he said.

 To register or get more information about the Ohio regional convening, call 202-541-3165. 

Information can also be found on the following Web sites:

http://guest.cvent.com/i.aspx?1Q,M3,2f041b23-ed4b-4f43-9c78-63424b863ea2

www.justiceforimmigrants.org  and http://www.usccb.org/mrs/ .

Filed under: Migration, Social Justice

OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND THE RIGHT TO LIFE

from the USCCB Website
By Mar Muñoz-Visoso

I was shocked. Finally someone said it loud and clear: “Immigration is the greatest civil rights test of our generation…It is very close to the right to life.” And he said it with the authority that, in the Church, comes with the teaching office. It happened at a meeting of the Missouri Catholic Conference where Archbishop José Gomez of San Antonio, Texas, delivered a speech on continuing to fight for comprehensive immigration reform as soon as the new president and congress are sworn in.

What was surprising was not so much the “civil rights test” portion of the message—around which the Justice for Immigrants campaign of the U.S. Catholic Bishops has been building awareness for a few years now—but the fact that he put this issue right up there with the right to life. And he is right, migration, whichever form it takes, is always about the right to life. Whether immigrants flee political or religious persecution, mass genocide or hunger and poverty, their human spirit of survival and the sense of responsibility to take care of your own, even if it comes at the price of never seeing them again, is all about seeking life, preserving life and improving life. It is about the right to exist and to do so in dignified human conditions.

I am not going to summarize here the archbishop’s talk. I think it should be read in its entirety (a copy can be obtained at www.originsonline.com).

Over the years I’ve been moved when hearing the compelling reasons why most people emigrate. I was at one point an immigrant myself. It has little to do with a sense of adventure. And yes, ideally, people ought to emigrate legally. But what happens when the “come-here-legally” window is practically closed for business but a big colorful sign that reads “help wanted (lots of it!)” sits right next to it suggesting a crack in the wall? That is what has been happening for decades with our immigration laws, which have proven inadequate to our labor needs, and trade policies that liberalized the movement of merchandise across borders but not the movement of labor.

Restrictionist policies fence people in. They have led to millions of people living in the shadows of our society, and have left employers, as we say in Spanish, entre la espada y la pared (between the sword and the wall). While I lived in Colorado I met farmers, fast food restaurant and construction company owners who struggled after failing to interest enough nationals to work in their trade (some of them were offering more than a decent wage) and were not able to obtain enough visas for foreign workers. The current system was clearly not working for them. The dilemma was to let their crops rot, go into a mere economy of survival, close their businesses and cut off the livelihood of their families, or hire the plentiful immigrant labor at hand, even if illegally.

Clearly our immigrant program is in shambles. Responsible reform offers hope for individuals and our nation. I will feel more secure, and our nation will benefit from, knowing the actual composition of its work force and social fabric. An increase of several million taxpayers almost over night won’t be bad medicine for our ailing treasury either. Turning anonymous people into law abiding citizens could benefit the country as a whole.

We are a no-nonsense nation, but on this issue of illegal immigration I have heard enough nonsense already. Don’t expect Catholics to be silent about it anymore.

Comprehensive immigration reform now! Yes we can! Sounds familiar?

Filed under: Migration, Personal Reflections, Politics, Social Doctrine

Jan 4-10: National Migration Week

National Migration Week, sponsored by the US Catholic Bishops, reminds us annually, that like Jesus and the Holy Family who fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath, there are still milions of persons and families today in the world who are on the move either as refugees, migrants or trafficked; many more are immigrants, and persons who are Internally Displaced and forced to live in refugee camps.

Please consider contacting your Congressional Representative, President-elect Obama, and others, to promote a more just immigration reform policy.

Below is the National Prayer for Migration Week 2009.

Prayer for Migrants and Refugees

Lord Jesus, when you multiplied the loaves and fishes, you provided more than food for the body, you offered us the gift of yourself, the gift which satisfies every hunger and quenches every thirst! Your disciples were filled with fear and doubt, but you poured out your love and compassion on the migrant crowd, welcoming them as brothers and sisters.

Lord Jesus, today you call us to welcome the members of God’s family who come to our land to escape oppression, poverty, persecution, violence, and war. Like your disciples, we too are filled with fear and doubt and even suspicion. We build barriers in our hearts and in our minds.

Lord Jesus, help us by your grace,

  • To banish fear from our hearts, that we may embrace each of your children as our own brother and sister;
  • To welcome migrants and refugees with joy and generosity, while responding to their many needs;
  • To realize that you call all people to your holy mountain to learn the ways of peace and justice;
  • To share of our abundance as you spread a banquet before us;
  • To give witness to your love for all people, as we celebrate the many gifts they bring.

We praise you and give you thanks for the family you have called together from so many people. We see in this human family a reflection of the divine unity of the one Most Holy Trinity in whom we make our prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Filed under: Migration, Social Justice

Catholics and Immigration Reform: Recent Poll Data

POLL SHOWS OVERWHELMING SUPPORT FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM AMONG CATHOLICS

WASHINGTON-A recent Zogby poll of Catholics nationwide showed overwhelming support for reform of our nations immigration laws, with Catholics supporting a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented persons in the country.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

The poll conducted October 17-20, included a sample of 1,000 people who self-identified as Roman Catholics and was commissioned by Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (MRS/USCCB). It had a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

About 69 percent of Catholics polled supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, provided they register with the government; 62 percent supported the concept if they were required to learn English. The U.S. Catholic bishops have long endorsed a path to citizenship for undocumented persons that would include requirements to register with the government and to learn English.

These results show that, like other Americans, Catholics want a solution to the challenge of illegal immigration and support undocumented immigrants becoming full members of our communities and nation, said Johnny Young, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB. It is clear that those opposed to a legalization of the undocumented are a minority, he added.

In other findings, 64 percent of Catholics opposed the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, while three out of four Catholics agree that the church has a moral obligation to help provide for the humanitarian needs of immigrants, regardless of their legal status.

Todd Scribner, education coordinator for MRS/USCCB, stated that the poll results demonstrated that the efforts of the U.S. bishops to educate Catholics on the realities of immigration are bearing fruit.

Catholics are generally in agreement with their bishops that there needs to be a comprehensive and humane solution to our immigration problems, Scribner said. The strong educational efforts of the bishops, through the Justice for Immigrants Campaign and their own teachings, have helped generate support in the Catholic community for comprehensive reform.

Filed under: Migration, Social Justice

Bishops call for reexamination of ICE work site raids

Statement of Most Reverend John C. Wester
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Chairman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration

On

Worksite Enforcement Raids

September 10, 2008

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I call upon the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Bush to reexamine the use of worksite enforcement raids as an immigration enforcement tool. The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society.

In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, we have sought to work collaboratively with DHS to ensure that raids are carried out humanely. It seems to us that DHS has attempted to abide by several humanitarian considerations in executing some of the workplace raids.

However, we believe that DHS has not gone far enough to ensure that human rights protections are consistently applied in all enforcement actions.

For over a year now, DHS has targeted employers who hire unauthorized workers by using force to enter worksites and arrest immigrant workers. During the process of these raids, U.S.-citizen children have been separated from their parents for days, if not longer; immigrants arrested have not been afforded the rights of due process; and local communities, including legal permanent residents and U.S. citizens, have been disrupted and dislocated. The sweeping nature of these raids—which often involve hundreds of law enforcement personnel with weapons—strike fear in immigrant communities and make it difficult for those arrested to secure basic due process protections, including legal counsel.

We have witnessed first-hand the suffering of immigrant families and are gravely concerned about the collateral human consequences of immigration enforcement raids on the family unit. Many of our local parishes have helped respond to human needs generated by these enforcement actions, providing counseling and legal services to parents and children and basic needs assistance to immigrant communities.
Raids strike immigrant communities unexpectedly, leaving the affected immigrant families to cope in their aftermath. Husbands are separated from their wives, and children are separated from their parents. Many families never recover; others never reunite.

As our government confronts the challenges of immigration, let it not forget one of its core duties: protecting the family unit as the fundamental institution upon which society and government itself depends.

While we do not question the right and duty of our government to enforce the law, we do question whether worksite enforcement raids are the most effective and humane method for performing this duty, particularly as they are presently being implemented. In this regard, we ask DHS to immediately pledge to take the following actions to mitigate the human costs of these raids:

DHS should refrain from enforcement activity in certain areas that provide humanitarian relief—churches, hospitals, community health centers, schools, food banks, and other community-based organizations that provide charitable services;

Primary, not simply sole, caregivers should be released following an enforcement action to care for their children. A variety of release mechanisms, including parole in the public interest, release on recognizance, bail, and alternatives to detention should be utilized for this purpose:

DHS should facilitate access to meaningful legal representation for arrested individuals so that they are aware of their legal rights and options;

Enforcement actions should be conducted in a manner which preserves basic human dignity: immigrants who are working to survive and support their families should not be treated like criminals.

Mechanisms should be instituted to allow family members to remain together and to locate each other during and following an enforcement action. Non-profit and community groups should be engaged in this effort.

Absent the effective and immediate implementation of these safeguards, we believe that these enforcement raids should be abandoned.

Immigration enforcement raids demonstrate politically the ability of the government to enforce the law. They do little, however, to solve the broader challenge of illegal immigration. They also reveal, sadly, the failure of a seriously flawed immigration system, which, as we have consistently stated, requires comprehensive reform.

As they begin their general election campaigns, we urge the two presidential candidates to engage the issue of immigration in a humane, thoughtful, and courageous manner.

We urge our elected and appointed officials to turn away from enforcement-only methods and direct their energy toward the adoption of comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Filed under: Migration, Social Doctrine, Social Justice