Principles to Guide Immigration Reform
LCWR submitted the following statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee which began hearings on comprehensive immigration reform on February 13. It is one of fourteen submitted by members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. These statements will be introduced by a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will become part of the congressional record. To see all the statements, go to: http://www.interfaithimmigration.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/IIC-Compiled-Statements-Senate-Judiciary-Committee-Hearing-2.13.13-1.pdf
As women of faith we, the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), take seriously the gospel call to welcome the stranger and care for those in need. As Catholic sisters we are committed to the precepts of social teaching rooted in the Catholic tradition that remind us that the dignity of the person is at the core of our moral vision of society; that how we organize our society affects human dignity directly; and that any system that is deliberately cruel or inhumane needs to change. Because of these beliefs, at our 2012 national assembly, LCWR, “called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes the reunification of families and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States.”
Catholic sisters began coming to these shores 286 years ago as immigrants to serve immigrant populations. To this day our sisters continue to minister to these aspiring citizens in schools and hospitals, in the fields and in the cities. We see the devastating effects of the brokenness of the current immigration system every day. We share the pain of mothers separated from their children and fathers who have risked their lives for love of their families. We know the struggles of survivors of human trafficking and torture who seek comfort and safety.
The Senate framework and the principles laid out in the President’s speech in Las Vegas provide hope to our immigrant brothers and sisters and promise that the values that are the bedrock of our national identity will flourish—family unity, equal opportunity, due process, and respect for the dignity of all God’s children.
We welcome the letter of Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), along with Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) which echoes our own concerns that any immigration legislation be grounded in the human rights principles that are the bedrock of our national culture.
Today our broken immigration system too often separates families, denies the dreams of youth, incarcerates innocents, and limits the rights of aspiring Americans. Our nation needs, and our people deserve, immigration reform that reflects the best of who we are. Immigration reform must prioritize family unity, provide a fair and reasonable roadmap to citizenship, respect human rights and restore due process to those detained by immigration authorities, protect the rights of all workers, promote the integration of new Americans, and address the poverty, persecution, and inequity that force migrants to flee their homes and families.
We look forward to working with lawmakers as they develop legislation that is grounded in the principles of the Constitution and fully reflects the values which bind this nation together.
LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic sisters in the United States. The conference has nearly 1500 members, who represent more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, the conference assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.