Immigration Reform: Waking Up to Hope in the Church

FAN member Sr. Dorothy Moczygemba, CSSF (Felician Franciscan Sisters) shares her experience of a Jan. 11-13 conference on immigration sponsored by the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. in Salt Lake City.

It was a wake-up call to hear

  • of couples who may not marry in the Church because, being undocumented, they are unable to secure a marriage license
  • of children afraid to go to school because they could be asked to reveal whether their parents were documented
  • of billions in tax revenues lost because foreign-born workers have to go underground in order to avoid deportation and family breakup
  • of millions of dollars in farm products rotting on the vine because of the shortage of workers despite unemployment rates among American workers
  • of the denial of due process and basic human rights to people who simply want to build a better life for themselves
  • of sexual abuse and mistreatment in over 200 privately-run detention centers across our land, and
  • of countless families torn apart by deportation and children routed to foster care.

It was energizing to

  • be at an conference on immigration sponsored and organized by our American Catholic bishops
  • hear panelists from diocesan offices spanning the continent and from the national Department of Homeland Security
  • marvel at the work of diocesan Catholic Charities, Justice for Immigrants offices, Migration and Refugee Services, marriage tribunals, and simple dedicated grassroots laborers
  • network with representatives from the Women’s Refugee Commission; Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; CLINIC (Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.); First Focus’ Immigration and Child Rights Policy office; executive directors for the Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, and New Mexico Catholic Conferences; a Catholic newspaper columnist; the Center for Migration Studies; the National Immigration Law Center; the National Immigration Forum, etc.
  • learn from people living with the results of the draconian Arizona and Alabama anti-immigrant laws

It was exhausting in less than 48 hours to hear a powerful keynote address by Most Reverend John Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City and member of President Obama’s faith leaders committee on immigration, listen to six high-level panels, participate in two breakout sessions,  be inspired by the Utah Compact, the Iowa Compact and the work on the Arizona Accord, view Tony and Janina’s American Wedding, and even get to sit in on part of the rehearsal of the Morman Tabernacle Choir two blocks from the hotel!

In the end though, remembering that Christ too was an immigrant, it was hope-generating to celebrate daily Eucharist with dedicated advocates and compassionate grassroots immigration reform laborers, presided over by several bishops.

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Published in: on January 23, 2012 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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