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Sisters of Mercy Take Immigration
Concerns to Capitol Hill

Call for focus on root causes of immigration, not criminalizing those who seek opportunity

(Washington, DC) [05/04/06] -- Along with several other Catholic leaders, including the US Bishops, The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, today called on Congress to pass compassionate immigration reform legislation during a press conference at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.

Presidents of the 25 regional communities of the Sisters of Mercy were joined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good; and CLINIC (Catholic Legal Immigration Center) in their plea for humane immigration reform that addresses the factors underlying cross-border migration.

“We call on our elected officials to pass humane and just immigration legislation that will rightly open the path for immigrant men, women and children to be full and active participants in our country’s future,” said Sister Mary Waskowiak, RSM, President of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. “Use your influence and your vote to change economic and trade policies that force people to leave their countries to seek the basic needs for survival.”

Most Reverend Francisco González, SF, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, DC, offered support to the Mercy effort and asked that reforms include “an earned legalization for the undocumented population in our country; a temporary worker program that protects the rights of U.S. and foreign-born laborers; reductions in family reunification backlogs, and restoration of due process protections for immigrants.”

The sisters spoke from their experience working with immigrant persons. Sister Gaye Moorhead, RSM, President of the Sisters of Mercy Rochester Regional Community recounted her experience as an attorney representing undocumented immigrants in El Paso, Texas, while advocating for passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. She told the story of Enrique, an orphan whose aunt brought him to the U.S. as an eight-year-old following his mother’s death from cancer, and who was deported to Mexico two days after his high school graduation. She asked, “What possible public interest is served by deporting children who have come here before the age of 16, not on their own volition, but with their parents; who have lived here at least five years, are of good moral character, and have or are getting a high school diploma or GED?”

Other speakers were Sister Sheila Browne, RSM, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Auburn Regional Community and Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, National Coordinator, NETWORK.

Following the press conference, Presidents of the 25 regional communities of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas delivered to Senators letters requesting humane reform of the United States immigration system to respect the rights of all persons while responding to values of family unity and community life.

The entire Mercy Community observed a day of prayer and fasting for immigration reform on May 4. Mercy sisters and associates also called their Senators last week to advocate for compassionate U.S. immigration policy.

Related Stories:

Bishops visit Capital Hill urging human reform

Dominican Justice Promoters Immigration Committee statement on Immigration Reform

May 10th Call in Day Planned

Photo: (l-r): Sr. Gaye Moorhead, RSM, (Rochester)
Sr. Sheila Browne, RSM, (Auburn) Sr. Mary Waskowiak, RSM, President, Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Most Reverend Francisco González, S.F., Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, DC, Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, National Coordinator, NETWORK, Sr. Anne Curtis, RSM, Institute Leadership Team member, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

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