Immigration is a hot political topic these days as we stand poised on the brink of one of the most important elections in our nation’s history. Many issues vie for “first place” on our country’s conscience, but perhaps none is more important than that of Immigration. Why? Because we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants and the very fabric of our national identity owes its existence to principles in which our founders believed.
In an effort to understand the complexities of the immigration process, Zoomers devoted several sessions to the unraveling of this complicated topic. Of particular value in our discussions was input from Peter Pedemonti who joined Zoom several weeks ago. His well-founded reputation as co-founder and director of the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia’s Kensington area made us feel the distress experienced by those seeking asylum in the United States: children separated from parents, women terrorized and/or raped, husbands taken from their homes in the middle of the night, due processing rights restricted at the border. To offset such abuses, the New Sanctuary Movement espouses the values of dignity, justice, and hospitality lived out in everyday life.
In 2020 the Leadership Council of Women Religious (LCWR) took an active stance in seeking just and compassionate immigration reform that reflected Catholic social principles and the values of our nation. Recently Zoomers discussed proposals of the group’s Immigration Action Plan that seek to stem the current divisive and racist rhetoric aimed at immigrants. The ten-point list of action plans proposed by LCWR encompasses a wide range of related measures that include 1) Ending discriminatory targeting of specific ethnic groups, 2) Decriminalizing migration related offenses, 3) Funding community-based Case Management Programs, and 4) Expanding child-sensitive procedures that ensure fair immigration proceedings for children.
The “ins and outs” of our immigration system boggle the mind. They should, however, make us aware of our responsibility as concerned Christians to reach beyond our limited knowledge to a compassionate understanding of those who seek a better way of life for themselves and their families.