Justice for immigrants

| Bishop Andrew Cozzens | June 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

If you have the chance to meet some of our local immigrant young adults and young people, the issues that are currently being debated in Washington take on a different tone. Just as a woman often changes her mind about an abortion when she sees an ultrasound and encounters the person in the womb, if we actually get to meet the people who are here in the U.S. legally now through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) or TPS (Temporary Protective Status) you realize that many of these people are like our relatives who came here seeking a better life. They are trying to escape situations of poverty and violence and now live in a place where they can flourish. They, however, simply did not have the privilege I had in being born in such a place.

Bishop Andrew CozzensI have gotten to know one 25-year-old woman who is a DACA recipient. After graduating from college, she now works full time as a program coordinator for the Boy Scouts of America. She volunteers most of her time as a catechist and young adult leader at one of our parishes. She speaks English without an accent, as she grew up in the United States after arriving at age 5. She has known no other home than the Twin Cities. In the rural Mexican village where she was born, her uncle was recently kidnapped by the cartels, which pose a constant danger there. Although they stole his vehicle, he escaped with his life. If she went home to her family in Mexico, her life would be in danger.

Another 22-year-old DACA recipient I know is a seminarian for our archdiocese. He was 7 years old when he came to the U.S. from Guatemala. He grew up in one of our parishes in Minneapolis, where he discerned his vocation to the priesthood. We of course desperately need Spanish-speaking priests who can minister to our many Latino Catholics in this archdiocese and around the country, especially since more than half of all the Catholics in this country under age 18 are currently of Hispanic or Latino heritage.

These DACA youths are currently making great contributions to our society. They did not choose to come here, and this is the only home they know. We will be impoverished if we do not welcome them on a path to citizenship.

Unfortunately, much of the current rhetoric and practice around immigration right now isn’t reverential of the dignity these people deserve. We should not ignore the fact that many people come to our borders seeking asylum because their lives were often in danger at home. If we can provide life-saving asylum, then we have a moral responsibility to do so. Additionally, we certainly don’t have to separate children from their parents as a punitive measure, an act which traumatizes innocent children. We need to control our borders and we need to stop the problem of illegal immigration, but we need to do so in a way that recognizes the right to life and the dignity of the people involved.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to get to know some of our immigrant brothers and sisters. To facilitate this, Archbishop Bernard Hebda, myself and Father Joseph Williams, pastor of St. Stephen’s parish in Minneapolis and vicar for Latino ministries in the archdiocese, will be visiting several parishes this summer and fall accompanied by some of our local DACA youth. We want to give Catholics a chance to encounter each other and to see the wonderful gift these faith-filled young people are to our archdiocese. We want to let Catholics hear their testimony and understand the dreams they have and the gifts they bring, most especially their deep faith, so we can work together to find a just solution to the problem of immigration.

I especially encourage you this week to contact your representative and express your desire to see a resolution for our DACA youth that provides a path to citizenship as the U.S. House of Representatives is considering legislation. For more information and updates on what you can do to support our immigrants, follow the Minnesota Catholic Conference at facebook.com/mncatholic or visit the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website on Justice for Immigrants, justiceforimmigrants.org.

Justicia para los inmigrantes

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Category: Only Jesus