Franciscans Send Letter to Government Leaders Urging Immigration Reform

Jocelyn Thomas In the Headlines

WASHINGTON — To emphasize their concern for the marginalized, the leaders of the seven OFM provinces in the United States have written a letter to President Barack Obama and members of Congress urging them to support immigration reform.

Yesterday, the provincial ministers of Assumption, Holy Name, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart, St. Barbara, and St. John the Baptist provinces issued letters to the president of the United States along with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, supporting reform efforts in the treatment of immigrants — especially the undocumented — in this country.

Call to Action
The letter said, “As the provincial leaders of the Franciscan friars (OFM) in the U.S., we write to offer our appreciation, encouragement and prayers for taking on the courageous work to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As we witness the Senate’s consideration of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, we look forward to the House of Representatives’ engagement in this important moral challenge of our time. In the months ahead, as this legislation develops, we strongly urge you to shape your decisions based upon the moral framework put forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spelled out in greater detail in a Jan. 8 letter sent to the President and Congressional leadership by our directors of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation — namely, that the following principles be part of the nation’s comprehensive immigration reform efforts:

  • A path to citizenship that ensures that all immigrants have access to full rights
  • A legal employment structure that protects both migrants and United States workers
  • A realistic and sustainable mechanism for welcoming future immigrants
  • Expedited family reunification and an end to policies and practices that keep families apart
  • Due process protections, and accountable and humane enforcement of our immigration laws
  • Economic assistance to and fair competition with developing nations to reduce push factors that lead to unlawful migration.

“We will continue our commitment to serve people in need, but also to call for the legal and social changes that will lead to greater justice for God’s people,” stated the provincials in the letters.

“The issue of justice for those who seek safety, security, freedom, and the opportunity of a better life is at the core of our ministry as Franciscans in the United States,” said ESC president Fr. John Puodziunas, OFM, of Assumption Province, based in Wisconsin. “Many of the Franciscan provinces have their historical beginnings among the immigrant groups that found their way to the United States — Italians, Irish, Polish, German, and Lithuanians. The places from which they come may have changed, and some of their circumstances may have changed with the times, but that which we as a nation stand for is what the immigrants of today seek. It is imperative that our structures and systems respond in a just, legal, and welcoming way — it is American, it is Christian, it is Franciscan.”

Copies of the three letters — one to President Obama, one to the members of the U.S. Senate and one to members of the U.S. House of Representatives — can be found on the website of the English-speaking Conference Order of Friars Minor, which describes the relationship between friars and immigrants. Franciscans serve millions of people in more than 220 ministry sites across the United States and encounter issues related to the undocumented daily.

HNP Advocacy Efforts
Throughout recent months, representatives from Holy Name Province ministries — both friars and laypeople — have advocated for immigration reform in a variety of ways. They have visited their local government officials, mailed letters, and participated in rallies.

In addition, many have publicized immigration-related articles provided by the Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation for use in parish bulletins, websites, and on social media. The sixth in the series — about the pro-immigration letter sent by the provincial ministers to the president and Congress — was distributed earlier this week.

“Thanks to all of you who have been able to promote some or all of these articles in your ministry,” said Russ Testa, director of the Province’s JPIC Office.

Information about the Province’s Immigration Reform Campaign can be found on the Justice and Peace page of the HNP website.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province. In photo above, Christopher Posch, OFM, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., participates in the April 10 rally for immigration reform in Washington.