Franciscan Family Weighs In on Immigration

Russell Testa In the Headlines

WASHINGTON-This week, the push to pass comprehensive immigration reform moved forward. On May 15, the U.S. Senate began formal debate, and President George W. Bush made an appeal to the Senate to pass legislation by Memorial Day.

To this growing movement, more than 50 leaders of the Franciscan Family in the U.S. sent a letter to the Senate requesting the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. The letter from the Franciscan Family was delivered to each Senate office on May 17. In this letter, the priests, brothers, sisters, secular and ecumenical Franciscans recalled how their own communities have been made stronger and better through the inclusion of immigrants. In particular, they stated that for immigration reform to begin to approach an acceptable moral foundation at least four items must be contained in the legislation. These elements are:

  • Establish a fair and manageable process for immigrants, documented and undocumented, to establish legal permanent residency and U.S. citizenship
  • Include provisions that work to maintain and/or restore immigrant family unity
  • Provide opportunities for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to attend college, as well as move towards legal permanent residency and citizenship
  • Not have enforcement mechanisms like those found in H.R. 4437, The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005, that attack the human dignity of immigrants, by criminalizing undocumented immigrants and those who provide them with humanitarian assistance

John O’Connor, one of the signatories of the letter to the Senate, in a separate press release regarding the letter, stated, “Every day, the ministries in which we serve witness the immoral results from our current immigration system: separated families, abused workers, and people living in fear. The current system is broken, and justice demands its overhaul.”

Sister Sharon Dillon, executive director of the Franciscan Federation, the largest organization of Franciscans in the U.S., added, “In their day, Saints Clare and Francis were always siding with those who were outcasts. For us, as the 21st century followers of their spirit, we cannot stay on the sidelines to this, one of the biggest injustices of our day, the U.S. immigration system. We must speak out and will continue to do so.”

Each friar and partner in ministry can help in this mission to bring forth comprehensive immigration reform. All should call their two Senators and let them know that they want them to pass legislation for immigration reform that adheres to the four points listed above taken from the Franciscan Family letter. A listing of contacts for the Senators from the states where Holy Name Province ministries are located can be found using the link below.

If you have any questions, please contact Russ Testa at 202-541-5245 or