· Create a tough but fair Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants already in the US that is contingent upon securing the border. For Border Security, they foresee providing the Border Patrol with “…the latest technology, infrastructure, and personnel….” They also plan more scrutiny and accountability for Border Patrol agents.
· Reform and improve our Legal Immigration System so as to attract the World’s Best and Brightest to help build the American economy and strengthen American families.
· Create an effective and reliable Employment Verification System that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers.
· Establish an Improved Process for Admitting Foreign Workers for agricultural and other low skill jobs and Protecting Workers’ Rights.
The following day, President Obama announced his plan, based on similar principles.
In the country there is broad support for Immigration Reform in all of its aspects, but to go from these announcements to the actual legislation there is a long way! Immigration reform is not yet a done deal.
This delay is giving anti-immigrant groups the chance to flood the House and Senate offices with calls, messages and faxes opposing immigration reform. For an example of this, see the February 13 Washington Post article at: http://wapo.st/YgHRv2 .
“Let me be clear: Those of us who support reasonable and overdue changes to our broken immigration system will lose this fight unless Catholics and other supporters of immigrants step up NOW and call, email and write their Senators and Congressional representatives to urge them to support reform”, says SVdP President, Sheila Gilbert.
Just click on the following link and you'll see a simple, direct message that you can send to your elected representatives. (Please include any personal stories regarding immigrants whom you've helped, but remember to maintain confidentiality.)
It is pretty clear that for the Immigration Reform to happen we need a strong response by Catholics and other faith-based groups. It is our moral responsibility not to let this opportunity for immigrants slip away. We need to give our representatives the political space and cover to do what is right. We should not repeat the errors of 2006, the last time that Immigration Reform was on the table. In 2006, messages sent to legislators against Immigration Reform were ten times greater than those in favor.
Jesus himself was a migrant and a refugee in Egypt. His life was a life of poverty. As Catholics and Vincentians we see the face of Jesus in the faces of the modern day migrants and of all the people in need.
Vincentians help them with their immediate necessities, advocate for them to make society treat them with the justice and dignity that they deserve. But what we do is not enough. We need to challenge many more Catholics to make a difference, to stop talking about the issue and to start to do something about it!
Recently, I came across the words that Pope St. Pius X said on the occasion of the Beatification of St. Joan of Arc:
"In our time more than ever before, the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men. All of the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics.
Oh! If I might ask the Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: ‘What are those wounds in the midst of Thy hands? The answer would not be doubtful: With these I was wounded in the house of them that loved Me. I was wounded by My friends, who did nothing to defend Me, and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries.
And this reproach can be leveled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries.”
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, but we are to drive a spike into the wheel itself."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi writer