On May 21, 2013 two organizations sponsored by the US Bishops conference, Justice for Immigrants and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, held an advocacy day on Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The US Bishops have been consistently in support of immigrant rights seeing this issue very much in line with the dignity of the human person and recognize the dehumanizing experience of the immigrant community as they struggle to find opportunities and hope for themselves and their families.
The concerns expressed by the Bishops were in relation to the Senate Bill that is currently being developed. The issued revolved around humane approaches to the immigrant process based on Catholic social teaching and the experiences that Catholic Charities and our immigrant services has in providing services to this community. Among other issues these concerns included the promotion of a viable and family based pathway to citizenship, family reunification policies, and addressing inhumane treatment of immigrants and their children during the detention process.
A couple of us from Catholic Charities on Long Island joined other to advocate on this issue with our legislators. While other members of our delegation met with the Senators we had the opportunity to meet with four of our representatives. Overall we found the two democrats and two republicans that we met supportive in principle. Although we recognized that at present the House does not have a Bill we gave them a heads up with regards to the position of the US Bishops. More importantly perhaps is the relationship we developed with our representatives as we invited them to follow up with us for a further conversation where we can share with them some of the Long Island immigrant experience.
As part of the Catholic community that ministers to the immigrant community we pledge to aid our Church in advocating for this Bill. It was heartening for us to hear that evening that the immigration bill was voted out of committee and will now be brought to the full Senate. We pray that this year be the year where we can achieve a humane, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform.