Posts Tagged ‘Migration and Immigration’
This summer, seven Jesuits took part in a five-week excursion through the Migration Corridor, the Central American route typically traveled by those fleeing poverty and seeking opportunity in the United States.
“La Jornada,” or the Journey, began in Honduras and ended in Nogales, Ariz. Along the way, participants learned about the realities of the lives of migrant workers.
Matthew Kunkel, a Jesuit scholastic said, “When people make this journey, they’re desperate. They’re not doing it because they want to break the law. They’re doing it because they’re trying to survive.”
The group traveled by bus and stayed in shelters, visiting human rights organizations and parishes that assist migrants along the way.
“If the experience was extremely demanding for us, I can only imagine what it would be for the migrants themselves,” said Jesuit Father J. Alejandro Olayo-Méndez.
Jesuit Father Ted Arroyo said that protesting Alabama’s new immigration law isn’t an act of politics, it’s an act of faith.
“It’s challenging us to welcome the alien and show mercy to the stranger,” said Fr. Arroyo, rector of the Jesuit community at Spring Hill College, “because what we do for them we do for God.”
Arroyo spoke on August 27 to about 100 people gathered in Lyons Park in Mobile who sang, prayed and created signs expressing their distress with the bill approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley in June.
The law allows local police to detain people suspected of being in the United States illegally; requires public schools to inquire into immigration status of students; makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek work; and makes it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor an illegal immigrant.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Birmingham to block the bill’s implementation. The case is pending.
Arroyo told the crowd to find out stories of their ancestors’ and families’ immigrations to new places. He also urged people to volunteer to help new immigrants in their own communities.
“If you meet the immigrant and welcome the stranger, soon enough they will be strangers no more,” Arroyo said.
Visit al.com for more on the protest.
This summer, the Jesuits in the United States took the rare step of sending a joint letter from all ten of their Provincial major superiors across the country to the president and to each member of Congress seeking immediate and comprehensive immigration reform. Understanding that in order for such reform to be enacted there must be a national demonstration of support; they are urging Jesuit communities, ministries, institutions and Ignatian-affiliated groups to join them in speaking out for the least among us by asking their members of Congress to act now in enacting comprehensive immigration reform for the nation.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time that ten provincials have come together and signed a letter requesting legislative action on a particular issue. This speaks volumes about the current state of U.S. immigration policy and the critical need for reform. It also shows that this is a nation-wide issue and not limited to certain states. The system is broken and the provincials’ letter recognizes this,” said Jesuit Father Thomas Greene, secretary of social and international ministries at the Jesuit Conference of the United States in Washington, D.C. “Today, 180 schools, parishes, retreat houses, Jesuit communities and other institutions have signed on to the provincials’ letter. Their response has been very encouraging and it is clear to me that people are tired of immigrant bashing and want to stand up for the immigrants they live in community with – the people with whom they live, work and study.”
Across the country, Jesuit-affiliated groups and institutions are adding their signatures in support of comprehensive immigration reform that is fair, just and humane. At Jesuit College Preparatory School in Dallas, in addition to endorsing the institutional sign-on letter, students and faculty were asked to add their names to a large four foot by six foot poster of the Jesuit provincials’ letter to Congress. With over 100 signatures, the letter is being mailed to the White House this Monday. This Sunday, members of Jesuit-sponsored works in Southern California and Arizona are joining together in prayer at Dolores Mission parish in Los Angeles to add their voices to those wanting immigration reform enacted immediately. During the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice being held November 13 – 15 in Washington, D.C., participating schools, universities, colleges and parishes will be asked to add their signatures of support during the group’s Advocacy Day.
With the goal of having 200 institutional signatories signed-on by All Saints Day on November 1, Jesuit groups are being asked to join in the effort and add their voices to the call for Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform for the nation today.
Today, a letter signed by every Jesuit major superior in the United States was hand delivered to the White House and each individual Congressional office. Their canvassing effort seeks immediate and comprehensive immigration reform. “With the new Arizona law, there is a real risk that life on our national borders will become subject to a patchwork of state responses; Congress is faced with both a constitutional and moral imperative to act,” said Jesuit Father Thomas H. Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference of the United States. “Despite what some reactionary politicians would have us believe,” Smolich added, “we can secure our borders in a way that does not cost us our humanity.”
With important primary elections on Tuesday and Capitol Hill staffers working on the legislative agenda for the resumption of the Congressional session, the Jesuits took the rare step of issuing a joint letter from all ten of their Provincial major superiors across the country. “In our language of religious life, we would refer to this as a kairos moment,” Smolich said. “Or in the language of a baseball fan,” he continued, “now is the time for Congress to get in the game.” John Kleiderer, director of social and international ministries at the Jesuit Conference, worries that if Congress does not act quickly, “the lives of thousands of people on both sides of the border will be hostage to the mid-term elections and neither side of the debate will see progress toward either security or justice.” Referencing the Justice for Immigrants Campaign sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Smolich said “the Catholic Church has been a leading advocate of immigration reform. We wanted to send a clear message to the President and Congress as well as invite all Jesuits and our many lay partners to join us in support of the Church, speak out for the least among us and ask your members of Congress to act now.”
The Jesuits are asking for legislation based on five core principals shared by the Justice for Immigrants Campaign.
1. A path to legalization that ensures undocumented immigrants have access to full rights.
2. A legal employment structure for future workers that protects both migrants and United States workers.
3. Expedited family reunification and emphasis on family unity.
4. The need for due process and humane enforcement of our immigration laws.
5. Economic development assistance and fair market access for developing countries.
For the complete text of the letter, you can click here.
Jesuit Father Tom Reese, Senior Fellow at Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, appeared on Lou Dobb’s television program last week to defend the Church’s stance on immigration. Reese spared off against commentator Dobbs and Fr. Patrick J. Bascio, who was on the program to promote his new book outlining his case against immigration.
To view Father Reese’s lively discussion with Dobbs and Bascio, please click on the video link below: