As the Senate “Gang of 8″ completes its work on a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (CIR) and Congress prepares to debate its provisions, key leaders of New York’s diverse faith communities joined with elected officials at a press conference held at the Community Church of New York, 40 East 35th Street in Manhattan, on April 5. One leader after another spoke to promote just and humane comprehensive immigration reform, urging Congress to use moral values as a guidepost.
Speakers included Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of New York; Pastor Gilford Monrose, Vice President of CUSH; Imam Talib Abdur Rashid, Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood; Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Greater NY Labor-Religion Coalition; Congresswoman Yvette Clarke; Congressman Joseph Crowley; Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez; Chung-Wha Hong of the New York Immigration Coalition; along with several young New York City immigrants.
David Lopez, 19, an undocumented resident of Staten Island and victim of Superstorm Sandy, spoke about challenges he faces since the hurricane destroyed the apartment where he lived and the business where he worked. Now homeless, he is ineligible for FEMA assistance because of his immigration status.
“I started working from the bottom up,” David said. “I want to become something to be able to help this country but I am unable to because of my status.”
When Msgr. Sullivan came to the podium he thanked Mr. Lopez for sharing his story.
“Catholic Charities is both proud and privileged to be part of these new New Yorkers that contribute to the growth and well-being of this country, the one they call home,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “We welcome comprehensive reform that provides a path out of the shadows, strengthens and reunites families and provides for fair and humane legal immigration opportunities.”
Immigrants and advocates will make this case in Washington D.C. on April 10th at a massive mobilization and faith community vigil for citizenship. More than 2000 New Yorkers are expected to participate.
“It is both overdue and heartening that the critical issue of immigration reform is moving to the top of Washington’s agenda,” Monsignor Sullivan said. “Immigrants have not only helped build this nation, but so many of our vibrant institutions, including our parishes.”