Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Hundreds Gather to Press for Immigration Reform

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Hundreds Gather to Press for Immigration Reform

Article excerpt

WOINGTON * Nearly a month after immigration reform in the U.S. was labeled politically dead, a group of Catholic organizations met in the national's capital with the aim of reviving what church leaders continue to see as an urgent humanitarian issue.

"We know the odds are stacked against us on our journey towards a more fair and just immigration system," Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, said in remarks opening the July 7-10 National Migration Conference.

"We've read the pundits who say that recent electoral outcomes means that comprehensive reform will have to wait till 2017 at the earliest. But all you have to do is turn on the nightly news and see pictures of 7-year-old children sharing cots and blankets in refugee facilities on our southern border to know that this issue remains essential, and our efforts cannot wait."

Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of the global Catholic charity Caritas Internatio-nails, set the tone for the conference by speaking to the question of immigration at the global level. "In the Western Hemisphere," he said, "the church's role as a defender of migrants and refugees is more important than ever."

"The statistics are alarming. What we are finding is that as economic migration in our hemisphere has slowed somewhat, migration fleeing violence and persecution is on the increase, particularly from Central America to the United States.

"And what are we doing to help these migrants?" the cardinal continued. "While the Italian navy is dredging up bodies from the Mediterranean and thousands are dying in the sands of the desert between Mexico and the U.S. and in the Sahara, many people are burying their heads in the sand."

The last National Migration Conference was held in 2008. The 2014 conference drew hundreds of participants, including a number of American cardinals and bishops, such as Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo of Seattle. …

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