During our recent Congressional Visits, we heard that for Immigration Reform the next two/three months will be crucial. After the Christmas break, attention will quickly shift to the November 2014 elections.
The time is now! We should not miss this opportunity!
Sen. John McCain (R) and Rep Raul Grijalva (D) reiterated this message loud and clear at a clergy meeting on Comprehensive Immigration Reform on August 28, in Casa Grande, AZ, organized by the Arizona Interfaith Network.
Impressive was the unity of intent of those who participated. The Bishops that were present crossed denominational boundaries, by sitting and consulting together. Sen. McCain and Rep. Grijalva crossed the partisan boundaries to stand together for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. They all took some risk, because, surely, some will criticize their openness. They gave us a great example on how to work with others for the Common Good!
This is a report on the Interfaith Immigration Meeting by Julie Douglas, VOP Co-Chair, Phoenix.
Members of the Tucson and Phoenix Voice of the Poor Committee attended a forum on Immigration Reform on August 28 at the United Methodist Church in Casa Grande. Speakers included Sen. John McCain and Rep. Raul Grijalva and was attended by Catholic Bishops Olmsted, Nevares and Kicanas, Episcopal Bishop Smith and Lutheran Bishop Talmage.
The meeting began with a beautiful prayer by Bishop Olmsted and introductions of priests from all over the state, as well as pastors from every major religious denomination. Over 150 attended this event, hosted by Arizona Interfaith Network.
Sen. McCain spoke passionately about the need for Immigration Reform and said that the time has never been more ideal for positive change. He encouraged all present to call, e-mail or visit their representatives. He said that, while many cry that reform is “amnesty” for the 11 million people living in the shadows, doing nothing is instead a “de facto amnesty”. He presented compelling figures provided by the Congressional Budget Office on the positive effect that reform will have on our economy, including:
- a 5.5 billion increase in Arizona revenues,
- a reduction of the federal deficits by about $200 billion over the next 10 years
- a 3.3% increase in GDP in the next 10 years,
- and an infusion of 300 billion into the Social Security trust.
Sen. McCain stated that the Senate version of the Immigration Reform bill would greatly increase border security, including 21,000 new border agents and additional technology.
Sen. McCain also pointed out that, in polling done in Arizona, 70% of the people strongly support the Senate version of Immigration Reform, which includes a path to citizenship. He emphasized that the proposed path is very onerous, requiring paying fees, past taxes and going to the back of the line, a process that would take 10 years, a good standard.
Both Sen. McCain and Rep Grijalva invited us to leverage the 70% in favor of immigration reform, rather than allowing the 30% who oppose the reform to control the debate.
Rep Grijalva and Sen. McCain suggested that all churches in the state set a Sunday date dedicated to presenting immigration reform from the pulpit. They also stressed that partnerships with leaders in business and education would help us further the cause.
The forum ended with a Q & A session moderated by Auxiliary Bishop Nevares and breakout sessions on “Next Steps”, including educating our parishes and congregations. Bishop Kirk Smith, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, the closed the meeting with a beautiful prayer.
What can you do? If you did not have the chance to write or to visit your Representatives, please do that now!
Justice for Immigrants website (USCCB) makes available an electronic postcard that you or anyone can send, by copying the following link to your web-browser:
Beyond advocacy, people of faith are engaging in various prayerful initiatives during this pivotal period, such as:
- pilgrimages to draw the attention to Immigration Reform (In California and elsewhere, thousands of Catholics will undertake pilgrimages in the coming months);
- “40 days of prayer, fasting!” (Starting on Sep 9, when Congress reconvenes, or when possible – this is an initiative by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition in solidarity with those impacted directly by our unjust immigration policies).