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Southern Dominican friars publish statement

“You must not infringe the rights of the foreigner… Remember that you were once a slave in Egypt…” (Dt. 24:17-18)

In 2007 our country failed to pass a comprehensive immigration reform. The recent passage of, what the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) and Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) call, the “draconian enforcement-only legislation in the state of Arizona,” has again raised to national awareness and debate over the current broken and unjust condition of the United States’ immigration policies.

Cardinal John Mahoney of Los Angeles, in a Sunday blog, described Arizona’s law as the “country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law.”

In a landmark pastoral letter issued by the Catholic bishops of Mexico and the United States entitled, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the bishops also indicate that our current immigration system is badly in need of reform and that a comprehensive approach to fixing it is required.

Cardinal Mahoney has rightly described the current state of our immigration policy and the need for comprehensive immigration reform:

“What led the Arizona legislature to pass such a law is so obvious to all of us who have been working for federal comprehensive immigration reform: the present immigration system is completely incapable of balancing our nation’s need for labor and the supply of that labor. We have built a huge wall along our southern border, and have posted in effect two signs next to each other. One reads, ‘No Trespassing,’ and the other reads ‘Help Wanted.’”

Because the U.S. experience with temporary workers programs has been fraught with abuses, the bishops call for a temporary worker program that includes:

  • Path to permanent residency which is achievable/verifiable
  • Family unity which allows immediate family members to join worker
  • Job portability which allows workers to change employers
  • Labor protections which apply to U.S. workers
  • Enforcement mechanisms and resources to enforce worker’s rights
  • Wages and benefits which do not undercut domestic workers
  • Mobility between U.S. and homeland and within U.S.
  • Labor-market test to ensure U.S. workers are not harmed

We acknowledge the right a nation has to protect its borders. But we also remember the pillars of hospitality and justice upon which our nation was built, as it says at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” (Emma Lazarus.)

In the Spirit of the Bogota Chapter of the Dominican Order, no. 53, we, the 25 Dominican friars who are delegates of the Southern Dominican Province, U.S.A., meeting in Chapter in San Antonio, Texas (May 2010), inspired by the gospel mandates to welcome, speak and act on behalf of the poor and marginated, join our bishops and the leadership of the American Catholic religious communities, as well as religious leaders of all faiths and call upon our government to reform our immigration laws.

We friars of the Southern Dominican Province, USA, meeting in Chapter, call upon our brothers, located in 11 dioceses, with communities of friars in six Southern States, to:

  • Include the plight of immigrants in our preaching
  • Expand our ministry to them in liturgical and material ways
  • Work collaboratively with others of faith and good will to address local immigration issues
  • Contact local and national leaders and ask them to address the needs of immigrants and our desire for national security with just and compassionate legislation
  • Write letters to the editors of local newspapers informing them of the Church’s social teachings regarding immigration and immigration reform
  • Urge the Federal Government to close the dozens of scandalous secret Immigration Jails scattered across the US—where immigrants are held without any due legal process, sometimes for years

Links to Articles and Resources

Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope
A Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration
from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Justice for Immigrants web site: www.justiceforimmigrants.org

Catholic Legal Immigration Network

Migrants: illegals or God's ambassadors?
National Catholic Reporter
May 14, 2010

The Secret Jails of Homeland Security: ICE Disappears People and Families and Lawyers Cannot Find Them
Houston Catholic Worker (Trabajador Catolico de Houston), March/April 2010