At the very moment when a purity test taking a nativist position on immigration reform is circulating within the RNC, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced that it will be launching a major push in support of comprehensive immigration reform.
According to the Catholic News Service:
A new postcard campaign in 2010 will urge Congress to take up as its next priority comprehensive immigration reform that would reunite families, regularize the status of an estimated 12 million people in this country illegally and restore due process protections for immigrants.
“We want to increase Catholic grass-roots support for immigration reform, but we also want to show members of Congress a strong Catholic voice and strong Catholic numbers in support of immigration reform,” said Antonio Cube, national manager of the U.S. bishops’ Justice for Immigrants project, in a Nov. 16 conference call with reporters.
The postcard campaign will coincide in most places with the bishops’ National Migration Week, Jan. 3-9, although it might be held earlier or later in some dioceses, Cube said. It also is part of a multifaceted interfaith campaign called “Home for the Holidays,” designed to stress the family reunification aspect of immigration reform….
Bishop Wester said he’s confident that his fellow bishops are ready and willing to work to help pass a comprehensive reform bill.
“The bishops know the stories, they see the people, the human faces,” he said. One of the biggest problems with previous attempts to pass immigration reform, said Bishop Wester, was that the “loud, strident voices” opposed to reform caused many members of Congress to hesitate to support legislation.
Other religious denominations will also be taking part in this effort:
Other denominations will be organizing their congregations in similar ways, especially in seven states whose members of Congress are considered critical to the immigration reform debate — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Arkansas, Missouri, South Carolina and North Carolina.
The Rev. David Vasquez is campus pastor at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, about 20 minutes from the scene of one of the nation’s largest immigration raids — the May 12, 2008, raid at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville. Nearly 400 people were arrested that day — equal to about 15 percent of Postville’s population.
“While we fail to reform our broken immigration system, 442,000 people will be detained this year by Immigration (and Customs Enforcement), wreaking havoc on communities and families across the country,” said Rev. Vasquez in the conference call. “This is the equivalent of 1,000 Postville raids.”
The Rev. Dean Reed, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Stephenville, Texas, said healing broken communities is a religious imperative.
“The immigration system has created problems and opened the door to divisive rhetoric,” he said. “We need to reform the system so these problems can be humanely and fairly solved, and our sense of community restored.”
Jews too have a religious obligation “to welcome the stranger, for we were strangers in the land of Egypt,” said Vic Rosenthal, executive director of Jewish Community Action in St. Paul, Minn.
“This commandment from the Torah combined with our history of immigration throughout the world leads us to stand in solidarity with immigrants of today struggling to secure legal status,” he said.
It would be unfortunate if the GOP allowed itself to become the political face of the “loud, strident voices” mentioned by Bishop Wester. Pandering to nativism and xenophobia would be a political disaster for our Party.