Posts Tagged ‘Immigration’

Visiting With Immigrant Children

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Immigrant children coming into this country have been the subject of much attention, debate – and, fortunately, great compassion by many – especially our Catholic charitable agencies and parishes.  For the most part, they are young people, without their parents, who are arriving in this country seeking a refuge from poverty or gang violence.   I was privileged today to travel to Northern Westchester and celebrate Mass for a group of these young people, to meet with them, and learn a little more about their circumstances and see where they are temporarily staying until they can be reunited, most often with their family members.

Former Mayor Ed Koch once told me, “Two women welcomed the immigrants to New York: Lady Liberty and Mother Church.” And he was right.  I just returned from a brief trip to Ireland, and people there still talk gratefully of the welcome given to so many Irish refugees during the great famine of the 19th Century.  We are called upon again today to care for a new group of immigrants, only this time the immigrants are teenagers – or younger.

Caring for the downtrodden, the outcast, the stranger among us, is part of our call as Catholics, and we here in the Archdiocese of New York have been doing just that for more than 200 years.  Lincoln Hall, for instance, where I celebrated Mass this morning, began as a residential treatment center back in 1863 to care for orphans left destitute after the Civil War.  The Archdiocese of New York has a long and proud tradition of caring for newcomers to our country.

Now, together, we are facing another crisis, one of children fleeing violence and risking their lives with the hope of finding family and shelter here.  Pope Francis said it so well, late last month, when he reminded us that “this humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

And that is just what  Catholic Charities, parishes, professionals and volunteers throughout the country are doing.

At Lincoln Hall and in similar residences children  receive the temporary housing, education, health, and legal support they need to survive and begin to re-establish their lives.

Immigration is not a new “issue.”  I have been very much preoccupied with the vulnerability of our immigrants and refugees because I meet them everywhere I go throughout our archdiocese: men, women, and children so grateful to be in America, so searching to find a home here, so eager to work, settle down, and become part of a nation that has traditionally welcomed and embraced the immigrant.  I am grateful to those political leaders on both sides of the aisle, people like Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Peter King,   who have led the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.  I am more than frustrated that too much partisan and self-interest politics up to this point has trumped the common good of our country.  But. I am not giving up hope, nor the struggle.  I continue to work and pray for the type of immigration reform our country needs to remain strong.

But these young people can’t wait for immigration reform.  As Pope Francis rightly points out, this is a humanitarian emergency, and however they got here, these young people must be cared for now.  Politicians and pundits might argue about how best to handle this humanitarian crisis.  For us, the answer is simple thanks to guidance Jesus gave us more than 2,000 years ago:

“Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

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.

Letter on Immigration Rally

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Senator Ruben Diaz had a immigration rally this past Sunday. Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of New York Catholic Charities represented Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and me. We wrote the following letter in support of Senator Diaz’s rally:

October 2, 2011

Dear Friends:

Although we are not able to be present with you this afternoon because of parish Masses, we express our solidarity with you who have come together in the Bronx to stand with our immigrant sisters and brothers.

Thank you all for coming, and thanks to all those that have taken the necessary steps to bring us together today — religious and community leaders, and especially Senator Ruben Diaz.  Today continues the necessary effort to raise up the need to fix our broken immigration system.

We have an obligation as a nation of opportunity, a nation of newcomers, to welcome the newcomer.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fully supports the DREAM Act. This common-sense legislation would provide relief for so many youth that have been brought here by their parents, and are currently unauthorized to be here, by no fault of their own.  It would create a path for legalizing their status and enable them to reach their dreams and lend their talents to this Nation of Immigrants.

We support genuine comprehensive immigration reform that deals with security, family unification, a pathway toward legalization and an overall fair and generous legal immigration policy.  However, as we work for such comprehensive reform, we need to concentrate on policies and administrative remedies and reforms that support family reunification and provide relief for the most vulnerable immigration populations at risk of being deported — including the elderly, our youth and those with serious disabilities.

Families continue to be separated.  Overzealous enforcement of immigration laws has created a spirit of fear that is pushing people back into the shadows.

Our faith and the wisdom of America call us to welcome the stranger out of charity and respect for the human person.   We will continue to call for comprehensive immigration reform, and we call upon our elected officials to find opportunities for reform – both administrative and legislative – for those struggling to live a life of dignity and respect as we await full reform of our immigration system.

Our prayers are with you this afternoon.  May God bless you and your families.

Faithfully,

 

Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan     Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio
Archbishop of New York                   Bishop of Brooklyn

Archbishop Gomez on Immigration Policy

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Last week, Archbishop José H. Gomez addressed delegates at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in Denver, Colorado. He spoke about the immigration policy in America. I thought you might want to read Archbishop Gomez’s remarks.

Here’s an excerpt:

From a Catholic standpoint, America’s founders got it exactly right. Human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are universal and inalienable. They come from God, not governments. And these rights are not contingent on where you are born or what racial or ethnic group you are born into.

The human right to life, the foundation of every other right, implies the natural right to emigrate. Because in order for you and your family to live a life worthy of your God-given dignity, certain things are required. At minimum: food, shelter, clothing, and the means to make a decent living.

If you and your family are unable to secure life’s necessities in your home country – due to political instability, economic distress, religious persecution, or other conditions that offend basic human dignity — you must be free to seek these things in another country.

Click here to read his whole speech.