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Catholic Advocacy on Immigration Reform



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.

CIR2013 (2)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.

Posted by,
John Gonzalez
Washington DC



  1. Cecilio Morales says:

    Let’s be honest about the politics of immigration and the politics of the Church. “Family based pathway to citizenship” and “family reunification policies” are clever ways of saying that the Irish and the Italians should continue to come in as easily as ever, this is not something for Hispanics.

  2. jdgonzo73 says:

    Hola Cecilio, I’ll have to say I can’t agree with you there. The Church does recognize that the Hispanic community is a large Catholic presence in North America and although it is taking the North American Church some time to authentically integrate us into the structure they are, I believe intentionally, addressing the social need of the Hispanic community. I think in this case the Church has benefited from community analysis that they have done and collaborative insights with the Mexican community such as the document “Strangers no Longer”


    Both policies that you mentioned surface from the experience of our Catholic Charities immigrant services. I can tell you that case these policies will directly influence and benefit the struggles and challenges to the Hispanic community that we service in Long Island, NY

    • Cecilio Morales says:

      You’re mistaken if you take church documents at face value. I drafted the bishops’ 1983 pastoral on the Hispanic presence and I was deeply involved in the Catholic hierarchy’s policy discussions concerning immigration during Simpson-Mazzoli, which became the 1986 law.

      The fact of the matter is that “family reunification” is and has been since the 1950s the buzzword for the Italian community’s insistence on family visas for relatives. Similarly, “Family based pathway to citizenship” is shorthand for the current Senate bill’s clipping off of paths to citizenship for adult children of nonimmigrants who change status, which largely favors white, skilled Europeans, not Hispanics.

      The interests of Hispanics in immigration are directly opposed to those of European-origin immigrants. A healthy majority of the touted 11 million immigrants without papers are Hispanics and have no easy route to permanent residency such as the Europeans who came thanks to a visa system that favored them.

      The U.S. Catholic hierarchy is primarily Irish, German and Italian and don’t think ethnicity doesn’t count when rubber hits the road. Of course, theirs is the dying sector of church, the empty parishes left behind by that oh-so-catholic white flight of the 1960s and 70s. If they don’t manage to alienate all Hispanics, the majority is still theirs for the taking; but don’t you believe that Hispanics will sit still for Padrecito any more.

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