Sister adds testimony against HB 2576

February 14, 2012 by

 Sister Esther Pineda, director of the Justice and Peace Center in Salina, on Feb. 15, 2012, submitted this letter of opposition to Kansas House Bill 2576. The so-called “Anti-Harboring Bill” would make it a crime to harbor or assist any person who is subsequently found to be in the United States without documentation. The Kansas House of Representatives is holding hearings on HB 2576 and other immigration-related measures this week.

The full text of the letter is below. Or, for a copy in Word document format, CLICK HERE.

 

February 15, 2012

 

House Federal and State Affairs Committee
Representative Steve Brunk, Chairman
Topeka, KS

 

I am submitting this written testimony to be filed with the record of testimony in opposition to HB 2576.

We, Sisters of St. Joseph have been in Kansas since 1883 ministering to the needs of Kansans in the area of education and health care.  Our religious Charism and faith calls us to be attentive to the most vulnerable; among them, the immigrant who finds himself/ herself away from home and, often, in vulnerable situations.

It goes without saying, that our immigration policy is broken. We are pained by the inability of the Federal Government to enact a fair and humane immigration policy; therefore, causing undue and unnecessary hardships on the immigrant who is present among us.  As a community of faith, we are committed to fair and just solutions, but these solutions only come through the Federal government who is charged with the responsibility of immigration; States trying to “piece meal” a solution is at times harmful and at best, not helpful.

In a desperate grasp of the issue, this Kansas legislation (HB2576) is proposing that communities of faith, such as mine, choose between following the law and following the dictates of our faith. Aiding those in need is one of the basic tenants of our faith and of our Religious Community.  The Sisters of St. Joseph must consider the “dear neighbor” without distinction. We take seriously the teaching of Jesus who said, “In Matthew’s text on the Final Judgment : “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a  stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35) .  And I don’t believe Matthew added: AND YOU MIGHT BE ARRESTED FOR DOING SO!

Specifically, we oppose any legislative proposal (such as HB2576) that would:

  • Require clergy and lay leaders to enforce  immigration policies, discriminate based upon immigration status, or take legal responsibility for failing to report the undocumented to immigration officials,
  • Create barriers to essential services for those eligible, particularly the U.S.-born children of mixed-status households.

Living according to our faith and community’s directive to extend compassion should not be criminalized as “harboring.”

Sincerely,
Sister Esther Pineda, CSJ

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