The past two weeks of my internship I have participate in conference calls with the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC). The IIC is a coalition of over 40 faith-based organizations (including the Columban Fathers), committed to enacting fair and humane immigration reform that reflects our mandate to welcome the stranger and treat all human beings with dignity and respect. Coalition members work together to advocate for just and equitable immigration policies, educate faith communities, and serve immigrant populations around the country.
During the two conference calls, we discussed policy updates related to deportation and Central American migration. Recently, members of the IIC sent a letter to President Obama expressing disappointment in his decision to delay affirmative relief with work authorization to individuals who are low priority to the Dept. of Homeland Security. We also urged the Administration to address dangerous deportation and detention conditions. The Columbans signed onto this letter and the IIC, like the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., is awaiting a response.
We also discussed upcoming events held by members of the IIC that reflect the mission of the coalition. One of the events discussed was the Immigration Convocation co-sponsored by the Columban Border Ministries in El Paso, Texas on October 11, to celebrate the spirit of hospitality in the El Paso-Las Cruces Border Community and to lift up the long struggle for human rights for the poor, the refugees and the migrants in that community. Situated in the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso is at the center of the current U.S.-Mexico border crisis.
Another issue that was brought to the table is the revival the sanctuary movement. This movement invites congregations to provide a safe haven and asylum for undocumented immigrations who are fleeing certain suffering and even death. There are a few churches in the U.S. currently offering sanctuary to immigrants. This is a direct response to the delayed action by the Administration.
When Columbans participate in this coalition, we are responding to the call to welcome the stranger in our land. Columbans work in solidarity with migrants and refugees, and continue to make the protection of the poor and vulnerable our first priority, as Scripture tells us (Matthew 25:34-40). Working together with the other faith-based groups in the IIC gives me hope that we will see justice for immigrants and peace in our communities!