WASHINGTON — Friars and laypeople are encouraged to show their support for an initiative in which the Province strongly believes — supporting the marginalized — that is getting national attention next Wednesday.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign has set Nov. 13, the feast day of St. Frances Cabrini — the patron saint of immigrants — as a National Call-in Day to Congress. Catholics and other supporters of immigration reform are urged to call their house representatives with this message: “Support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE Act.”
JFI has made the call-in process easy, said Russell Testa, director of the Province’s Office for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. “On Nov. 13, simply dial this toll free number: 1-855-589-5698. You will be prompted to enter your zip code and then will be routed to your representative’s office. Then urge the office to “support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE Act.’ It’s that easy. Let’s all do our part to ‘welcome the stranger’ in our midst.
“We want to flood Capitol Hill with calls on Nov. 13,” Testa added.
Last month, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men sent a letter to members of Congress expressing concerns about the Strengthen And Fortify Enforcement, or SAFE, Act (H.R. 2278). In that letter, they object to provisions in the proposed legislation that “create new crimes for being present in the U.S. without lawful immigration status and for aiding a migrant or refugee who lacks immigration status; expand the use of mandatory and indefinite immigration detention; encourage state and local law enforcement officials’ participation in immigration enforcement; and decrease protections and immigration relief for certain migrant groups.”
Lawrence Hayes, OFM, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, N.C., and a member of the Provincial Council, expressed the importance of Catholics and Franciscans joining in this national initiative.
“Virtually everyone admits that the immigration system is broken,” Lawrence said. “This means that human lives and families are also broken to pieces and shattered by that broken system. The Senate has passed comprehensive immigration legislation. The House could probably also do so today with a straight up-and-down vote. Our undocumented brothers and sisters have waited long enough. Their suffering has gone on for too long. Our representatives in Washington need to hear from as many constituents as possible that now is the time to fix this broken system and that we expect a just and comprehensive reform now.”
Ministries around the Province have joined the effort to both encourage immigration reform and to support immigrants. Several — such as St. Anthony Shrine in Boston — have printed the CMSM letter in their bulletins. Others are offering community programs. On Nov. 2, the Migrant Center of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi held a public forum on immigration.
Last month, friars from Delaware and Maryland participated in the rally for comprehensive immigration reform held in the nation’s capital that attracted close to 20,000 people.
Information about the Nov. 13 call initiative can be found on the Justice and Peace page of the HNP website which also offers resources about immigration efforts.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.