Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HOPE FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM

Friends,

It has been a long time since we have seen such positive and hopeful prospects for comprehensive immigration reform in our country.

Several factors are at work here:

     *  the 2012 Presidential election showed the importance of the Hispanic and the Asian-Pacific vote, and the growing importance of these communities for the future

     *  62% of Americans now favor a solution to the 11 million undocumented people living among us that includes an earned path to legal residency, and eventually, to citizenship; fewer than 20% think some type of mass deportation would work or even be a solution

     *  a growing realization that our immigrant people perform jobs and work which no one else is interested in doing--and work that is essential to the vitality of our country

     *  that "blended families" where some members have papers and some do not will on their own split up--and for many years; they will do anything to maintain their families united and together

     *  we cannot go on exploiting these people living in the shadows without bestowing upon them their human dignity and rights

Yes, there will be many hurdles and challenges in the Senate and in the House.  But with a sound bipartisan group of Senators coming together, along with the President, the hour has come for us at long last to reach out to our undocumented people with a new spirit of compassion and welcome.

What can you and I do?  First thing:  email your Congress representative and your U.S. Senator and tell them that you support strong comprehensive immigration reform. 

Continue to pray for a change of hearts and minds among our citizens, and our elected representatives.

2013 could well be the year when it finally happens!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

62% FAVOR UNDOCUMENTED TO BECOME CITIZENS

A recent poll is good news for all of us working to secure legal residency and a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented living in our midst.  Some 62% of those polled believe there should be a path whereby these people can come out of the shadows and become members of our society.

I am reprinting the full commentary on the poll here:


Opposition Declines


By ERICA WERNER and DENNIS JUNIUS

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 6 in 10 Americans now favor allowing illegal immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens, a major increase in support driven by a turnaround in Republicans’ opinions after the 2012 elections.
The finding, in a new Associated Press-GfK poll, comes as the Republican Party seeks to increase its meager support among Latino voters, who turned out in large numbers to help-re-elect President Barack Obama in November.
Emboldened by the overwhelming Hispanic backing and by shifting attitudes on immigration, Obama has made overhauling laws about who can legally live in the U.S. a centerpiece of his second-term agenda. In the coming weeks, he’s expected to aggressively push for ways to create an eventual pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.
The poll results suggest that the public overall, not just Hispanics, will back his efforts. Sixty-two percent of Americans now favor providing a way for illegal immigrants in the U.S. to become citizens, an increase from just 50 percent in the summer of 2010, the last time the AP polled on the question.
In an even earlier poll, in 2009, some 47 percent supported a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Further boosting the president on the issue, Democrats have opened a 41 percent to 34 percent advantage as the party more trusted to handle immigration, the first time they’ve held a significant edge on the matter in AP-GfK polling. In October 2010, Republicans held a slight edge over Democrats, 46 percent to 41 percent, on the question of who was more trusted on immigration.

Much of the increase in support for a path to eventual citizenship has come among Republicans. A majority in the GOP — 53 percent — now favor the change. That’s up a striking 22 percentage points from 2010. Seventy-two percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents like the idea, similar to 2010.
The findings suggest that those GOP lawmakers weighing support for eventual legal status for illegal immigrants could be rewarded politically not just by Democrats and independents but also by some in their own party as well. This comes amid soul-searching in the party about how the GOP can broaden its support with Latinos, who backed Obama over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, 71 percent to 27 percent, in November. Romney received less support from Latinos than Republican President George W. Bush did. But his slice was on par with candidates Bob Dole in 1996 and George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Some Republicans have concluded that backing comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship is becoming a political necessity. Many lawmakers remain strongly opposed, and it’s far from clear whether Congress will ultimately sign off on such an approach. But in the Senate, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is working to draft immigration legislation, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible 2016 presidential candidate, has offered proposals that would ultimately allow illegal immigrants to attain legal status.
One poll participant, Nick Nanos, 66, of Bellmore, N.Y., said that providing a way for illegal immigrants to become citizens would respect America’s history as a nation built by immigrants.

“We act as if our grandparents got here legally. Don’t want to ask a single Indian about that,” Nanos said in a follow-up interview. “I don’t think that most of us can solidly come to a point where our grandparents or great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents were here legally. What does that even mean?”
Overall, 54 percent in the poll said immigration is an important issue to them personally, a figure that’s remained steady over the past couple of years.

Republicans aren’t the only group whose views have shifted significantly. In August of 2010, just 39 percent of seniors favored a path to citizenship. Now, 55 percent do. Among those without a college degree, support has increased from 45 percent to 57 percent.
And 59 percent of whites now favor a way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship, up from 44 percent in August 2010, and 41 percent in September 2009.

Overall, the poll found 35 percent strongly favored allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens over time, while 27 percent favored the idea somewhat. Just 35 percent of Americans opposed the approach, with 23 percent strongly opposed and 12 percent somewhat opposed. That compared with 48 percent opposed in 2010 and 50 percent in 2009.
The poll also found strong support for Obama’s decision, announced last summer, to shield as many as 800,000 immigrants from deportation with conditions. Those affected would have to be younger than 30, would have to have been brought to the U.S. before turning 16 and would have to fulfill certain other conditions including graduation from high school or serving in the military. Illegal immigrants covered by the order now can apply for work permits. The order bypassed Congress, which has not passed “DREAM Act” legislation to achieve some of the same goals for younger illegal immigrants.

Sixty-three percent of Americans favor that policy, while 20 percent oppose it and 17 percent are in between or unsure, the poll said. The policy is supported by 76 percent of Democrats, significantly more than among Republicans (48 percent) or independents (59 percent).
Cordel Welch, 41, of Los Angeles, was among those poll participants who believes illegal immigrants brought to the country as children should be treated differently from people who came here as adults.

“The ones that were brought here by their parents, they’re already here, they’re already established,” Welch said in an interview. “The adults should go through the process.”
Melissa Johnson, 40, of Porter, Texas, disagreed.

“I think there were generations of people that came over here legally, and just because your parents snuck you in or snuck in while pregnant with you doesn’t give you automatic citizenship,” she said. “I think they should send them all back home.”
The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted Jan. 10-14, 2013, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,004 adults nationwide. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points; the margin is larger for subgroups.

 

Monday, January 21, 2013

FILES: SEXUAL ABUSE of MINORS


STATEMENT FROM CARDINAL ROGER M. MAHONY
REGARDING SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS BY CLERGY
 
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles
 January 21, 2013

With the upcoming release of priests’ personnel files in the Archdiocese’s long struggle with the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, my thoughts and prayers turn toward the victims of this sinful abuse.

Various steps toward safeguarding all children in the Church began here in 1987 and progressed year by year as we learned more about those who abused and the ineffectiveness of so-called “treatments” at the time. Nonetheless, even as we began to confront the problem, I remained na├»ve myself about the full and lasting impact these horrible acts would have on the lives of those who were abused by men who were supposed to be their spiritual guides. That fuller awareness came for me when I began visiting personally with victims. During 2006, 2007 and 2008, I held personal visits with some 90 such victims.

Those visits were heart-wrenching experiences for me as I listened to the victims describe how they had their childhood and innocence stolen from them by clergy and by the Church. At times we cried together, we prayed together, we spent quiet moments in remembrance of their dreadful experience; at times the victims vented their pent up anger and frustration against me and the Church.

Toward the end of our visits I would offer the victims my personal apology—and took full responsibility—for my own failure to protect fully the children and youth entrusted into my care. I apologized for all of us in the Church for the years when ignorance, bad decisions and moral failings resulted in the unintended consequences of more being done to protect the Church—and even the clergy perpetrators—than was done to protect our children.

I have a 3 x 5 card for every victim I met with on the altar of my small chapel. I pray for them every single day. As I thumb through those cards I often pause as I am reminded of each personal story and the anguish that accompanies that life story.

The cards contain the name of each victim since each one is precious in God’s eyes and deserving of my own prayer and sacrifices for them. But I also list in parenthesis the name of the clergy perpetrator lest I forget that real priests created this appalling harm in the lives of innocent young people.

It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God’s grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward with ever greater healing.

I am sorry.
 

Monday, January 7, 2013

NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK BEGINS

National Migration Week: to raise awareness on the 11 million undocumented persons

Washington (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the United States (USCCB) today begins National Migration Week with a campaign that calls for comprehensive immigration reform in order to be able to legalize 11 million undocumented immigrants.
 
"The National Migration Week is an opportunity for the Church to remember and reflect on the obligations related to Migration" said the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the USCCB Committee on Migration. This year we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the common pastoral Letter, "We are Strangers no longer: Together on a journey of hope," issued by the USCCB and the Mexican Episcopal Conference in 2003. The note sent to Fides Agency says that with regards to the celebrations, the Department of migrants and refugees from the USCCB is planning to launch a postcard campaign that calls on Congress to pass fair and comprehensive immigration reform.
 
There are 5 requests:
 
     1)   Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons;
 
     2)   Preserve family unity as a conerstone of our national immigration system;
 
     3)   Provide legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States;
 
     4)   restore due process protections to immigration enforcement policies;
 
     5)   address the root causes of migration caused by persecution and economic disparity.
 
National Migration Week began over a quarter of century ago, promoted by the bishops of the United States.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

GOOD NEWS FOR IMMIGRANTS

Homeland Security has announced an important change in the process whereby unauthorized immigrants who are immediate relatives of American citizens can apply for permanent residency.

Up to now, such immigrants would have to return to their country of origin and begin the process to obtain a valid visa.  However, this process often took months or even years, separating family members for long periods of time.  Immigrants from Mexico were required to go to Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, to begin the process.  However, Ciudad Juarez is one of the most violent cities in Mexico, and drug traffickers basically control the city.  There is hardly any police protection.

People waiting for visas would have to hide for months or years in great fear of their lives.  The uncertainty and physical threats and risks dissuaded immigrants from following the previous process, and forced people to remain without legal status because of these fears.

Not any more.

This new rule from Homeland Security reduces the amount of time unauthorized immigrants need to be separated from their American families while they seek legal status.  Under the new system, the immigrant completes the process here in the USA and is assured of getting the visa.  He or she then travels to their country of origin to pick up the visa which has already been approved at a U.S. Consulate.

Keeping families united has been one of the pillars of the Catholic Church's immigration policies.  This new process is humane and sensible, and it avoids uncertain and long periods of separation as family members must split up while seeking an uncertain future visa.

To qualify for the expedited visa process the unauthorized immigrant would need to demonstrate "extreme hardship" by following the earlier, lengthy and uncertain process.  For us disciples of Jesus, any uncertain separation between family members is seen as extreme hardship.  To separate a mother from her children, a father from his job and family, and children from a parent--all of these are human hardships.  And there is no need for such prolonged and uncertain separations.

It is sad that the gridlock and stalemate which has developed in Congress makes it virtually impossible to reach consensus on so many issues facing our nation.  Nonetheless, we in the Church continue to pursue all avenues to improve the dignity and lives of all immigrants living among us.  We will continue to work with the President and Congressional leaders to secure comprehensive immigration reform.

Jesus' Gospel imperative remains our inspiration and our focus:  "For I was a stranger, and you welcomed me!"  (Matthew 25:35)