Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Comprehensive Immigration Reform: A Call to Human Dignity

November 4, 2013

  By Carlo Chavarria, CCAO Intern

Recently, I attended an event on Capitol Hill in Washinigton D.C. called “A Path out of Poverty: Immigration Reform and Low Income Families.” Held by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), it examined the issue of how to better the condition of immigrant families ranging from health care and nutrition benefits to employment opportunities. Poverty and Immigration are issues that are very familiar to the faith community as a whole and to Catholics in particular.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has shown staunch support for immigration reform. In their letter, Strangers No Longer, they reaffirm the Church’s commitment to caring for pilgrims, aliens, exiles, and migrants of every kind: “All peoples have the right to conditions worthy of human life and, if these conditions are not present, the right to migrate.”

This is an essential part of the Catholic social teaching, which calls for unified families and dignity for all humanity. I really appreciated the humanity with which the entire panel portrayed the issue as they talked about why this equality mattered, and reached out to all sides of the immigration debate. After hearing the presentation, I felt like I gained information that allowed me to see the immigration debate in the context of human rights.

I’ve also noticed that many people are taking an active stand. One example of this is the Rally for Immigrant Dignity and Respect I attended on October 8 in Washington D.C. The fact that comprehensive immigration reform could be tabled by the constant budget debates and upcoming midterm elections means, however, that the issue needs to be supported by more people. Catholics are taught to be of service and to respond with compassionate hearts to those in need. This is a responsibility we cannot ignore.