Sisters call for compassionate immigration reform

January 13, 2012 by

In a brief but powerful “celebration” Friday afternoon, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia joined other groups across the nation in calling for compassionate and comprehensive national immigration policy reform.

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The sisters took the opportunity of National Migration Week, proclaimed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to publicly release their “Statement on Immigration” that was unanimously accepted by the women’s religious order two months ago.

At the Sisters of St. Joseph Senate in November, the congregation calls for a national immigration policy that includes:

  • A pathway to lawful permanent residency and citizenship for the undocumented persons currently living in the United States;
  • A process to reduce the backlog of family visas in order to ensure family unity and reunification;
  • A guest worker program that ensures labor protections and equitable wages;
  • A border security and enforcement policy that is humane; and
  • A process whereby undocumented students living in the United States can earn a college degree and become gainfully employed.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, as well as numerous other religious communities, have supported similar proclamations.

TO READ THE COMPLETE STATEMENT, CLICK HERE.

Sister Esther Pineda, a member of the congregation’s Immigration Committee and director of the Justice and Peace Center in Salina, began the half-hour ceremony by noting that the theme of the national week was “Welcoming Christ in the migrant.”

“The Sisters of St. Joseph offer a welcoming hand to the immigrant in our midst,” she said. “Being concerned for the least among us is the … cornerstone of the Sisters of St. Joseph.”

TO WATCH A VIDEO OF SISTER ESTHER’S FULL INTRODUCTION, CLICK HERE.

As the ceremony continued, sisters lit candles and quoted Scripture and their congregational Constitution in support of their stance in the Enactment Statement.

A special guest for the ceremony was Ana Aquirre-Brown, whose family fled war-torn Guatemala in the early 1980s and came to Concordia as part of the “sanctuary movement.” They first arrived at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia, and were supported by the Sisters of St. Joseph while they established themselves here. Ana, who was born in the United States and now lives with her husband in Minneapolis, Kan., spoke of the sisters’ generosity and kindness to her family. “I just want to thank you,” she said, fighting back tears.

Sister Marcia Allen, president of the Concordia congregation, closed the ceremony with a short speech that recapped the sisters’ history of taking a stand to do the right thing, even when it was unpopular. She said the sisters are committed to working toward immigration policy reform, collaborating with other immigration rights advocates where appropriate and helping immigrants already in the United States.

“We know that legislation is necessary,” Sister Marcia said, “and it will take a great deal of conversation and compromise to bring about fair policies for immigrants.”

But in the meantime, she added, “We will care for those who already find themselves here and we will do what we can to see that they are welcome.”

TO WATCH A VIDEO OF SISTER MARCIA’S FULL REMARKS, CLICK HERE.

 

Comments

One Response to “Sisters call for compassionate immigration reform”

  1. S. Faye on January 15th, 2012 10:22 pm

    I’m glad to be able to participate in the ceremony through this article and video clips. It helps to cut down the 700 miles that separate us. Thank you.

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