Posts Tagged ‘Immigration Reform’

Welcoming Newcomers

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Today the Wall Street Journal published my editorial on the Catholic Church’s history of welcoming immigrants. I would like to share it with you. (*Subscription to this article may be required).

Here is an excerpt:

It’s a familiar sight at the Catholic Center, the archdiocesan headquarters on First Avenue in Manhattan where I work. Dozens of new arrivals to our country line up early in the morning, waiting for our office to open. They know that here they will get the help they need to become citizens, learn English and civics, reunite with their families, and navigate the complex legal immigration system. Our telephone counselors answer 25,000 calls from immigrants each year in 17 different languages.

It isn’t, however, confined to our office. We’ve all seen the men—almost 120,000 of them nationally on any given day—queuing up on the side of the road on hundreds of street corners throughout the U.S., hoping to be hired for the day. In places like Yonkers, N.Y., volunteers from Catholic Charities offer these day laborers coffee and sandwiches and even some employment advice.

The Catholic Church is doing the same things in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Houston, Newark and Miami. More than 150 Catholic immigration programs across the nation assist immigrants in becoming Americans. Helping the newcomer to our land feel at home is part of our mission, as Christ reminds us in Matthew 25 that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Historian Henry Steele Commager wrote that: “The Church was one of the most effective of all agencies for democracy and Americanization.”

You can read the whole editorial here.

God Bless and Guide Us

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

A lot going on as we get back to routine after what I trust was a good summer, as we re-open school and so many parish programs, and as we wish our Jewish neighbors the happiest of their holy days.

Three things I especially wanted to mention to you:

For one, we’re all worried about the perilous situation in Syria and the entire tortured region of the Middle East.

You may have heard that on Sunday, at his noon Angelus address and blessing to the tens-of-thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis firmly and soundly condemned the use of gas and chemical warfare, recently and brutally unleashed in Syria, but also cautioned against any escalation in force or weaponry that would only exacerbate the already volatile situation.

When we believers are frustrated, impatient, and “don’t know what to do,” – - and we are “all of the above” when it comes to the continued turmoil in the ancient lands of the Mideast – - we pray.  That’s what the Holy Father has asked us all to do this weekend.

Our prayers are with our President and Congress as they consider the appropriate American response.  Lord knows, as the world’s major power, we do indeed have a duty to remind the nations, cogently if necessary, that certain lines of civil and inhumane behavior cannot be tolerated in the community of nations.

Of the many sane and compelling voices heard on this horror, you will not be surprised that I pay special attention to those of religious leaders, particularly the weary and anxious, yet brave pleas of the tiny, persecuted, bloodied, threatened, venerable Christian communities in Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.  They are there, right in the midst of it, poisoned by the gas, singed by the flames, shredded by the bombs, wounded by the guns.  Just what to do they humbly admit they do not exactly know; but they sure are united on what not to do:  please, they beg, no more bombs, no more arms, no more invasions, no more violent reaction.  They deserve to be heard!

The Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, will offer the 5:30 p.m. Mass Saturday evening at the cathedral for this intention.  In response to the request of Pope Francis, I wish all our Catholic people to abstain from meat this Friday, and  add this intention to their prayers at Sunday Mass.

Two, while we will indeed heed the Holy Father’s invitation to keep this Sabbath as a World Day of Prayer  for peace in the Middle East, we’ll also keep our plans to pray as well for fair and comprehensive immigration reform.   Our senate has already passed a good bill.  Perfect?  No.  A lot better than what we now have?  Yes!  And now we ask the Lord – - who has told us in the Bible that He has a soft spot in His heart for the immigrant and refugee – - to illuminate the House of Representatives so they can bring home the reform this autumn.

Three, we prepare for our vote in the mayoral primary next Tuesday.  We thank God for the generous spirit of our candidates in answering the call to public service, and we study the pressing issues so we can make an informed and enlightened vote.

Traditionally, we Americans consider not only issues, but character  when we vote.  While we hardly expect our candidates to be angels – - Lord knows none of us are! – - we do want them to be men and women of honor, integrity, principle, and, yes, virtue.

We Americans follow the political philosophy of thinkers such as Aristotle and Plato, mirrored in our own historically revered public servants, that politics is a noble vocation, that those who aspire to office can be expected to set a good example, to keep their word, their promises, their vows and oaths, and comport themselves with decency and propriety.  Yes, they do fail – - as do we religious leaders on occasion, I’m afraid – - but we still keep trying.

Recently, a mom asked “Who can our kids look up to?  Hollywood, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, clergy, and politicians are no longer good examples we can hold up for our children.”

That’s worrisome, isn’t it?  Jesus told His followers – - that’s us! – - that “I expect more out of you.”  Our guide is not what’s chic, pragmatic, “cool,” or popular, but what’s good, honorable, noble, decent, and virtuous.

The cynics claim “We deserve the leaders we get.”  Is it still possible to hope we get leaders whom we can hold up as examples for our children?

God bless and inspire our candidates!

God bless and guide us as we vote!       

Insights from Jim Klauser

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

I came across an insightful piece on WisOpinion.com written by Jim Klauser, Secretary of Administration under former Gov. Tommy Thompson and former Wisconsin chairman of the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Klauser strongly believes that immigration reform should “protect and secure our borders while still allowing for the free movement of trade.”

Here is an excerpt from his op-ed:

First and foremost, we are a nation of immigrants. I am a first generation American; my parents and grandparents were immigrants. I am proud of my German-American ethnic background and what these immigrants accomplished. We must always ensure we have a welcoming immigration system that can attract and retain foreign talent, whether they are agricultural workers or skilled workers graduating from American universities. Our economy depends on an influx of foreign workers, and we must never deter this important facet of our population.

Unfortunately, our current immigration system is far too slow to respond to requests, fails to follow visa holders through expiration and turns away high and low skilled workers far too often. A temporary worker visa program will encourage the flow of labor in and out of our country and can be expedited to respond to spikes in industry demand or with agricultural seasons here in Wisconsin.

As for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in this country, it is simply not feasible to deport each and every one, nor desirable. Offering the ability to achieve earned legal status will encourage undocumented workers to come forward, pass a background check, pay a fine, and learn our language and culture. We should not offer these people amnesty; instead we can provide an accessible platform to earned legalization and become productive members of our society.

You can read his whole op-ed here.

Letter on Immigration Reform and Abortion Expansion

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

I am sending the following letter to all of our parishes today, asking that it be shared with parishioners this weekend.  It concerns two important issues: immigration reform, and abortion. Might I also ask your help and your prayers on these two key pieces of legislation in Washington and Albany?

June 6, 2013

My dear friends in Christ,

Can I ask your help and your prayers on two important issues.

Both concerns flow from our solid belief in the dignity of the human person and the promotion of a culture of life.

The first is about the reform of our nation’s immigration laws.  As Catholics, we gratefully acknowledge that our parents and grandparents came here as immigrants, and were welcomed by this country we love.  As Americans, we believe the United States is at her best when she remains true to her heritage of hospitality.  All recognize that our current immigration laws are unfair and do not work.  The current bill before congress, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act,” while not perfect, is sure promising, and, we bishops believe, deserves support, as it is consonant with our cherished beliefs as Christians and citizens.

The second is the “Woman’s Equality Act.”  Of the ten proposals in this act, we’re supportive of nine.  Not bad.  Sadly, the tenth is, literally, “a killer,” as it increases access to abortion.  In a state where 40% of babies are aborted – - and, in some areas, 60% of babies of Latino or African American blood – - we hardly need to further the abortion license.  Can’t we work together to help pregnant women in trouble with more lifegiving alternatives?  Would you support our courageous civic leaders in Albany who share our concern about this sad and unnecessary measure?   (www.nyscatholic.org).

Thanks for your prayers and support. I’ll keep you posted.

Faithfully in Christ,

Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

Pilgrims, immigrants, ancestors…Americans!

Monday, May 13th, 2013

WASP’s (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants) call them pilgrims, those brave men and women who sought sanctuary on our shores at Plymouth Rock, and we have an entire national feast to celebrate their arrival every November, Thanksgiving.

Our culture calls them immigrants, folks who have come to America from the start in the noble search for freedom, justice, peace, and a better life.

We Catholics usually call them “Mom,” “Dad,”  “Grandma,” “Grandpa” and “fellow parishioner,” as we are proudly part of a Church called Catholic, which means, “universal,” or, as James Joyce described, “Here comes everybody!”

Thus, from the beginning, the Catholic community has been vigorously pro-immigrant, for a number of good reasons.

For one, because they  – - the immigrants – - are us!  We are welcoming to them because our grandparents were immigrants!  We’re glad America opened the door to earlier generations.  Now it’s our turn.  With Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the bay it’s especially hard, to be a Catholic in New York, and not be pro-immigrant.

Two, we Catholics are vigorous in promoting a fair and open immigration policy because of our faith, which teaches that every person, no matter where they’re from, is a child of God, made in His image and likeness, and deserving of dignity and respect.  No one deserves to live in the shadows, in a divided family, fearing deportation, because of harsh policies.

Three, we urge immigration reform because we are loyal Americans, who recognize that a fair, measured welcome to immigrants and refugees has always strengthened our beloved nation, hardly weakened it.

Thus do we watch closely the current efforts to reform an immigration policy that everyone acknowledges to be deeply flawed.  We’re grateful to our political leaders who have bravely worked together for this reform – - including our own Senator Schumer – - and for the broad coalition of religious leaders who are with us on this one.

Our Statue of Liberty looks so good in our harbor; let’s not make her blush in embarrassment by failing to bring this noble cause to pass!

Statements on Immigration Proposal

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Continuing the Catholic Church’s longstanding commitment to immigration and immigrants, Archbishop Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles and the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, released a statement of welcome for the immigration reform legislation introduced in the Senate today, and pledged that the bishops would carefully examine the bill and work with Congress to ensure that any final measure respects the dignity and basic human rights of migrants.

Here is an excerpt:

The introduction of U.S. Senate bipartisan legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system was welcomed by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, April 17. Archbishop Gomez also pledged that the U.S. bishops would carefully examine the legislation and work with Congress to ensure that any final measure respects the basic human rights and dignity of migrants.

“I welcome the introduction of legislation today in the U.S. Senate,” Archbishop Gomez said. “The U.S. bishops look forward to carefully examining the legislation and working with Congress to fashion a final bill that respects the basic human rights and dignity of newcomers to our land—migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable populations.”

Click here  to read the whole press release on the USCCB website.

 

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, also released a statement to the press today.

Here is his statement:

“We are hopeful that the filing of a bipartisan Senate bill on immigration seems, after many years, to make comprehensive immigration reform a real possibility. We appreciate the hard work of the group of Senators and others that has made this possible. We note with special pride and recognition the work of so many Catholic organizations and the leadership of the Bishops on this issue. While we are hopeful and supportive, the bill is complex and requires careful analysis. There will be opposition. We look forward to making suggestions for improving the bill to even better reflect our longstanding concerns for family unification, a fair, legal immigration system, protections for temporary workers, effective, yet humane border security and due process in enforcement. We look forward to working in partnership with many to ensure that this reform happens for a straightforward reason—concern for the common good of the nation and the well-being of individual immigrants and their families.”

Click here to learn how Catholic Charities is helping immigrants and their families.

New Immigration Policy

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Yesterday, I came across this interesting op-ed in the New York Times written by Dowell Myers, a professor in the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Myers writes about reforming the immigration policy and the importance of accepting migrants and their children in our society.

Here is an excerpt from his op-ed:

The immigration crisis that has roiled American politics for decades has faded into history. Illegal immigration is shrinking to a trickle, if that, and will likely never return to the peak levels of 2000. Just as important, immigrants who arrived in the 1990s and settled here are assimilating in remarkable and unexpected ways.

Taken together, these developments, and the demographic future they foreshadow, require bold changes in our approach to both legal and illegal immigration. Put simply, we must shift from an immigration policy, with its emphasis on keeping newcomers out, to an immigrant policy, with an emphasis on encouraging migrants and their children to integrate into our social fabric. “Show me your papers” should be replaced with “Welcome to English class.”

You can read the whole op-ed here.

 

 

 

To Whom Shall We Go?

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

I just caught up with a great piece by Terry Golway in the Irish Echo. The Well Trod Line Between Church and State talks about illegal immigrants and the role of Church and state.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The descendants of the Ellis Island generation may argue that their ancestors did it the ‘right way’ – shuffling through the lines, answering the questions of government agents, submitting to cursory health examinations.

Today’s illegal immigrants have done none of those things.

But, as the clerics of Houston reminded us, their lack of legal status should not blind us to their humanity. They did, after all, come here for many of the same reasons as the immigrants of old.

Can we put them on a path to citizenship and dignity while also establishing firmer control of our borders? The White House seems to think so. So do many Catholic bishops whose own families once were seen as too foreign, too alien, for mainstream American society.”

The New York Community Media Alliance posted the article here.

Immigration Reform

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Here we go again!

Anyone who does not believe that “history repeats itself” has only to take a look at the unfortunate new law in Arizona.

Throughout American history, whenever there is tension and turmoil in society — economic distress, political rifts, war, distrust and confusion in culture — the immigrant unfailingly becomes the scapegoat.

It’s a supreme paradox in our American culture — where every person unless a Native American, is a descendent of immigrants — that we seem to harbor an ingrained fear of “the other,” which, in our history, is usually the foreigner (immigrant), the Jew, the Catholic, or the black. (cf. Religious Outsiders, by R. L. Moore, or Immigrants and Exiles, by K. Miller).

So we can chart periodic spasms of “anti-immigrant” fever in our nation’s history:  the Nativists of the 1840’s, who led mobs to torch Irish homes and Catholic churches; the Know-Nothings of the 1850’s who wanted to deny the vote to everyone except white, Protestant, native-born, “pure” Americans; the American Protective Association of the 1880’s and 1890’s who were scared of the arrival of immigrants from Italy, Poland, and Germany; the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920’s who spewed hate against blacks, Jews, Catholics, and “forn-ers”; the “eugenics movement” of the 1920’s and 1930’s who worried that racial purity was being compromised by the immigrant and non-Anglo Saxon blood lines; and the Protestants and Other Americans United of the 1950’s who were apprehensive about Catholic immigrants and their grandkids upsetting the religious and cultural concord of America.

And, here we go again!  Arizona is so scared, apparently, and so convinced that the #1 threat to society today is the immigrant that it has passed a mean-spirited bill of doubtful constitutionality that has as its intention the expulsion of the immigrant.

What history teaches us, of course, is that not only are such narrow-minded moves unfair and usually unconstitutional, but they are counterproductive and harmful.

Because the anti-immigrant strain in our American heritage, however strong, is not dominant.  Thank God, there’s another sentiment in our national soul, and that’s one of welcome and embrace to the immigrant.

That’s the ethos we New Yorkers are most at home with, as we look out at the Statue of Liberty, whose torch of welcome has caused tears of joy in the eyes of millions of our grandparents as they arrive exhausted and nearly desperate, and as we today live next door to Latino, Haitian, Asian and mid-eastern neighbors.

That’s the ethos most especially a part of the Catholic — the word means everybody — culture, which has been a spiritual mother to immigrants to America, who were and are mostly Catholic, who have found a home in parishes and schools which helped get them moved-in and settled in America.

From even a purely business point of view, a warm welcome to immigrants is known to be good for the economy and beneficial for a society.

To welcome the immigrant, to work hard for their legalization and citizenship, to help them feel at home, to treat them as neighbors and allies in the greatest project of human rights and ethnic and religious harmony in history — the United States of America — flows from the bright, noble side of our American character.

To blame them, stalk them, outlaw them, harass them, and consider them outsiders is unbiblical, inhumane, and un-American.

Yes, every society has the duty to protect its borders and thoughtfully monitor its population.  The call is to do this justly, sanely, and civilly.

My brother bishops in Arizona worry this is not the case there.  They have been joined by Cardinal Roger Mahony, Jewish, other Christians, and various civic and human rights groups.

I’m on their side.

I want history to repeat itself — but the “Statue of Liberty side,” not the Nativist side.

P.S. I thought you might be interested in a presentation on immigration reform that will be given at Fordham University on Monday, May 3. Cardinal Mahony will speak on “Our Heritage & Our Future: Why Enacting Comprehensive Immigration Reform Is a Moral Imperative.”  Click here to view details on his presentation.