National Catholic Reporter

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Immigration and the Church

As states advance bills, Obama calls for federal immigration changes

WASHINGTON -- With more legislatures taking public frustration over immigration-related problems into state-level hands, President Barack Obama renewed his commitment to putting his political weight and the resources of his administration behind a federal approach to reform.

But as he told participants in a White House meeting April 19, the responsibility for legislation to fix the multilayered immigration mess lies with Congress.

"Padre da un consejo!"

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“Padre da un consejo!”

What priest who ministers in an Hispanic parish has not heard this many times a week or more?

“ ‘La migra’- they arrested my husband and deported him back to Mexico and me and my children are here illegally. When I go down to ‘la emergencia’ they ask me if we are citizens? If we are here illegally? I know it is a sin to lie Padre, but what do I say? ‘Mi hijo’-he needs the medicines and we can’t pay. Do I lie?”

Our people carry so many burdens.

P. Jose Rankin

Vatican official: Promote rights, dignity of Gypsies

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VATICAN CITY -- Centuries-old discrimination against Gypsies can be overcome with initiatives to encourage education and integration coupled with a desire to reach out to others, a Vatican official said.

Archbishop Antonio Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said the church has been working to help create the structures and the environment that will "change the minds of people within and outside the church" regarding nomadic peoples known as Gypsies.

At a book fair specializing in social issues in Grottaferrata, south of Rome, Archbishop Veglio said April 15 that Gypsies have suffered isolation and persecution throughout history.

He said that within the pontifical council, the term Gypsy, sometimes a pejorative and offensive to nomadic people, is used because it can include nomadic peoples around the world. The terms Roma and Sinti refer more specifically to the nomadic populations in Europe, he explained.

Integration has been difficult because of rejection by local populations as well as fear of absorption and loss of identity on the part of the Gypsy people, Archbishop Veglio said.

Times profiles anti-immigration advocate

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The New York Times April 17th published an extensive profile of a Michigan man who has been the most influential anti immigration advocate in America.

The Times article wrote: One group that Dr. John Tanton nurtured, Numbers USA, doomed President George W. Bush’s legalization plan four years ago by overwhelming Congress with protest calls. Another, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, helped draft the Arizona law last year to give the police new power to identify and detain illegal immigrants.

A third organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, joined the others in December in defeating the Dream Act, which sought to legalize some people brought to the United States illegally as children.

Dominican University hosts comprehensive immigration panel

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Students, faculty, religious leaders and concerned neighbors attended “Is Dreaming Illegal? Seeking Sustainable Solutions”, Dominican University’s immigration forum Tuesday, March 15. Dominican University is a small, Catholic institution with about 4,000 students located in River Forest Illinois.

The evening’s discussion addressed the statistical, legal, theological and ethical aspects of immigration, beginning with the question “Is dreaming illegal?”

Mexican couple in Minn. weighs life in the shadows

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For Miguel and Gabriela, leaving Mexico was a wrenching process, in part made necessary by the diagnosis of lupus that explained Miguel's persistent sickness. But though they say life is mostly better for them in the United States, the couple from Sacred Heart Parish in St. Paul said they live in constant fear of being arrested for being in the country.

Italy's immigration puts church teaching to test

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VATICAN CITY -- The new flow of North African immigrants into Italy is putting the Vatican's teaching on immigration to the test.

More than 22,000 "boat people," many fleeing political unrest in Tunisia and Libya, have arrived on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa this year. The fighting in Libya has spurred more people to flee in recent days. Not all survive the trip: About 150 people drowned April 6 when a migrant boat capsized in rough seas.

Church leaders have underlined the broad right to emigrate, the specific rights of refugees and the responsibility of wealthier nations to welcome those in need. But their moral advocacy has provoked criticism and even derision among some Italians, who have suggested that the Vatican and other religious institutions be the first to open their doors to the wave of immigrants.

Thousands protest immigration measures in Ga.

ATLANTA -- Catholics were among the thousands of people who filled the streets surrounding the state Capitol to oppose legislation that targets illegal immigrants in Georgia.

Critics say the proposals will weaken the state's economy and lead to racial profiling.

The crowd railed against a measure in the state House and one in the Senate, holding signs with messages such as "The pilgrims were undocumented" and "No human being is illegal." Throughout the rally, the crowd chanted in Spanish: "Yes, we can!"

Nora Soto, 35, who is in school to learn hairdressing, spent March 24 on Washington Street in the shadow of the Capitol's gold dome. She worships at Our Lady of the Americas Mission in Lilburn.

"It's going to separate families. It's not fair. We came here to work and find a better life," said Soto, who has lived in the United States for 20 years.

Soto was one of a reported 6,000 people at the rally, which featured musicians, priests, political leaders and activists.

Bishop: Welcoming the stranger essential to faith

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Diocese of Providence was built upon and prospered because of the faith, sacrifices and contributions of many ethnic communities, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin explained during a recent symposium on "Immigrants and Immigration in the 21st Century" at Brown University.

"Throughout its history in our nation and in this community, the church has welcomed and ministered to the historic immigration of these cultures," the bishop said.

"Despite the various languages, cultures and traditions of these very diverse immigrant groups, they were united by a common Christian faith and the desire to improve their lives and contribute to the well-being of their new home in the United States and the state of Rhode Island," he said in the symposium's keynote speech.

He emphasized that the Catholic Church has been concerned with the immigration question and responding to the needs of the immigrant community for a long time and added that the church has continued to be blessed and enriched by the immigrant community.

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