Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vatican foils Republicans plan for 'tough' immigration reform

:::Update::: Pope calls for sympathy on behalf of migrants. Read here. Take that Republican'ts!

Yahoo News! has a story on the efforts of Catholic organizations to assist migrants on their journies northward from Central America into the US. Full text Below

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico (Reuters) - At a Catholic-run shelter just across the border from Laredo, Texas, dozens of Latin American migrants say grace and tuck into a hearty meal of sausages, beans and rice, before trying to swim across the Rio Grande into the United States.
Weary migrants on their journey north often recharge their batteries at a network of similar shelters run by the Roman Catholic Church -- a lifeline sanctioned by the Vatican, despite increased U.S. efforts to keep out illegal immigrants.

"Migration is a human right and migrants are some of the world's most vulnerable people. It is the church's obligation to help them," said the Rev. Francisco Pellizzari, an Italian-Argentine missionary who runs the Nazareth migrant shelter in Nuevo Laredo.

After long treks to the border, often from as far away as Central America, men, women and children at the shelter swap their torn clothes for fresh ones, heal their injuries and telephone family members for cash for their crossing.

The Nuevo Laredo shelter has been granted a papal blessing in a Vatican certificate that hangs proudly on the wall.

Many Catholic Churches in the United States have welcomed Hispanics, with some seeing their congregations double in size. They set up soup kitchens and offer support to families hit by workplace raids and deportations.

"It is time for some compassion in the immigration debate," said Sister Christine Feagan, who ministers to Hispanics at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Iowa. "Welcome the stranger.."

But in a U.S. election year with illegal immigration one of the most passionate issues, some candidates have a tough message for undocumented immigrants.


Among the Republican candidates who take a tough line on immigration, one of the most outspoken is Mike Huckabee, a Baptist preacher who has drawn strong support from evangelicals.

Many religious conservatives in the United States take a sharply contrasting view of immigration from that of the Catholic Church.

Some are angry that the Catholic Church helps people who break the law. Others accuse it of using support for immigration as a way to win back members as the church loses ground to evangelicals and secularism in Latin America.

"The Roman Catholic Church is aiding and abetting the criminal invasion of America from Mexico," wrote Ralph Ovadal, pastor of the Pilgrims Covenant Church in Wisconsin, in a booklet sold on the church's Web site.

Without the shelters in Mexico, most migrants would be forced to beg for food, sleep on streets, in the hot sun and freezing cold of the desert or on the muddy banks of the Rio Grande before attempting to cross.

"I'm extremely grateful for this shelter, but even without it, I would still try to get across," said 19-year-old Guatemalan coffee picker Raul Mintis, looking at a map of the United States in the Nuevo Laredo shelter.

The church denies any wrongdoing and says it is stepping in to fill the void created by the lack of a U.S. immigration policy and the failure of Latin American countries to create more jobs for their people.

"While the governments of the United States and Latin America fail to provide workable policies, the church will do what it must to help the migrant," said Rafael Romo, Archbishop of Tijuana on Mexico's border with California. "We can't let these people be treated like animals."

(Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Tijuana, editing by Chris Wilson)

Here's another story from Catholic News Service where border Catholics joined in a ceremony to commemorate the migrants and show support for them. And another from a former ambassador to the USCCB on how to change the immigration debate by changing language. The key word: Amnesty Forgiveness

I'm reminded of a visit that Gashwin and I had a few years back to St. Francis by the Sea Catholic Church on Hilton Head Island. The then pastor was very proud of his Parishes out reach to migrants and the hard work they were doing on their behalf to help naturalize them, they had even established a center for that work specifically and it had exploded with donations and cases.

I'm more inclined to agree with the Archbishop of Tijuana that the nations have failed to enact good and working policies to help the poor which then causes them to migrate. I could allude to the various and supposed "Free Trade" aggreements (as opposed to fair trade) which have in the 15+ years hurt labour on both sides of the border and led to many of the problems, but that would be pointless.

And while I'm not a fan of general Amnesty, I think it would be ruinous to try and evict all the 'illegals' we have within our borders. I commend organizations like that at St. Francis who see the problem and try and address it from the back end from the immigrant's side. From the 'front' as it were, it seems more practical to go after employers who are generally not innocent at all in the matter and who usually end up taking advantage of the migrants and severly punish them. I'm not a fan of the fence which would probably serve no more purpose than poor Anti-American Symbolism.

If you want border security enact fair trade policies, redesign and redirect your aid packages and hire more patrolmen for the borders to keep the terrorist out, but keep in mind that glorious lady, that American Colossus standing in New York Harbour now 120 years who is

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

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