WASHINGTON, D.C. — Over the past week, a great deal has been reported on the status of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation being addressed in the U.S. Congress. As I have been traveling around the Province visiting with the friars and our lay partners, the status of the legislation has been a point of discussion and concern regarding this status.
At the end of this brief update is a part of an e-mail that many have received from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Justice for Immigrants program. It contains the most up-to-date information and reflection on the immigration legislation in the Senate. This week, June 4 to 11, is when it will be furthering its consideration in the U.S. Senate. If any legislation passes out of the Senate, then the U.S. House will bring it to consideration.
The bill in the Senate, like any bill that has a bi-partisan support in the Congress, is one that is going to be a “compromise” piece of legislation. This means that both those who are for immigration reform and those against it will like and dislike significant parts of the bill. The key features and concerns that we have from a Catholic-Franciscan point of view are related to the elements of keeping families together. That is the effort at present and focus of the U.S. Catholic Bishops advocacy at this time.
If the Senate does pass some form of legislation, the next point of focus will be on the House of Representatives. The JPIC Office, in coordination with other advocates working for a sustainable and comprehensive reform of the current broken immigration system, will determine how to push the next round in the House. In particular, we will be encouraging local ministries to visits their representative at their District office in the latter part of June. Materials for this process will be sent to the JPIC local contacts for them to follow-up as well as be published inHNP Today.
Because this is an important time for immigration reform, the Province’s JPIC Directorate encourages all to read and pray over the status report brought to us by the USCCB. For those who are against any immigration reform, we ask you to consider the enjoinder of our Bishops. One can legitimately disagree with their stance, but our faith does ask us to discern the Bishops’ campaign for immigration with honesty and the openness of faith. These are difficult question and no solution is perfect or easy.
As Franciscans, we are called to create space for dialogue and a process to help people in our ministries openly discuss the complexity of the issue of immigration. One source of information to begin this dialogue can be found at the U.S. Catholic Bishops Web site on Immigration. It has facts and figures as well as common questions and myths on immigration. The site address is http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/facts_figures.html. The JPIC Directorate hopes this will be a way to help our ministries discern through this difficult issue.
For more information, contact Russ Testa at 202-541-5245 or JPIC@HNP.ORG.
Message & Update from the U.S. Catholic Bishops
Justice for Immigrants ACTION ALERT
Contact your senators regarding bill S. 1348, the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007.
Background.The U.S. Senate is currently considering immigration reform legislation. Senators will be in their home states the week of Memorial Day, from May 25 to June 2. Debate on the immigration bill will begin again on June 5, with a vote on final passage by June 8. It is important to contact your senator in his/her state office during the recess week. If possible, attempt to set up a visit with the local office or call the office expressing your support for a fair and humane immigration reform bill.
The Way Forward. S. 1348, the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007 contains some good elements and some about which we need to express concern. To date, the U.S. bishops have neither opposed nor supported this piece of legislation, but have chosen to raise concerns about the legislation and to improve it as the legislative process goes forward. The bishops believe that the Senate debate marks the beginning of the legislative process and that there will be several opportunities to improve the legislation as the process moves forward. We must work together to make these important changes to the bill. It is our obligation to try to obtain the most humane legislation possible for millions of our fellow human beings.
Please call/visit./fax/ email your senators as soon as possible at 202-224-3121 (capitol switchboard). For more information, talking points, and to communicate to your senators through our interactive website, please go towww.justiceforimmigrants.org/action.html.
The Justice for Immigrants Campaign