IAUSA Irish Apostolate

Update on the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform  

Issue: # 89  January 2013
In This Issue
Bp McKeown Visits NYC
National Migration Week
MRS/CLINIC Conference
IAUSA Board Visits SIISG
My View: A Path to Citizenship
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Current Articles 


U.S. Chamber Makes Immigration Overhaul a Top Priority

AP Online 



New Poll: Strong Bipartisan Support for Immigration Reform That Includes Earned Citizenship 


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Movement  in Washington on 

Comprehensive Immigration Reform


We are definitely in exciting times when it comes toimmigration reform at the federal level as the Senate released their principles and Obama announced his blueprint. This is indeed the most support we've seen for these types of comprehensive reforms to our broken immigration system in many years. Many advocates are not yet content with the Senate outline, but we know we must organize and generate more grassroots actions to see the type of reform we really want.


Geri Garvey and Fr. Michael Leonard from IAUSA, along with other colleagues from the Justice for Immigrants campaign, spent several days this past week visiting Senate Republican and Democratic offices.  They were pleased to hear from Senate staffers that a path to citizenship would be included in any immigration reform legislation.  


On Monday, the Senate Gang of 8 released their Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, which made this week's meetings very timely.  On Tuesday, President Obama gave his address in Las Vegas on Immigration Reform and the White House has posted its FACT SHEET on Immigration Reform.  It is rumored that a few House of Representatives Members are also working on a Framework to be released in mid-February.


You can read the Senate Framework for CIR and the White House FACT SHEET on Immigration Reform here.  




Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signs Historic Drivers' Licenses Bill into Law


By Breandán Magee, Executive Director
 Chicago Irish Immigrant Support

Illinois' Governor Pat Quinn presided over a packed room in a south side Chicago immigrant center on Sunday January 27, when he signed into law a much vaunted bill that will provide temporary drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants in his state. An impressive who's who of Illinois politicians joined him on stage in support of the move and to express solidarity with the immigrant population, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White, Senate President Cullerton, Asst. Majority leader Acevedo ,Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Latino Caucus Co-Chairs Tony Munoz and Toni Berrios and Representative Lisa Hernandez.

Read the entire article and see photos here.  

Support Irish Abroad Funding Grants to USA CENTERS

In December 2012 the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants (IECE) awarded grants from its SIA (Supporting Irish Abroad) fund to Chicago Irish Immigrant Support and Irish Outreach San Diego to assist these centres in providing support to new Irish emigrants. Chicago Irish Immigrant Support received a grant to host a series of Immigration Workshops and Irish Outreach San Diego received a grant to assist it in providing support to new arrivals.

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IAUSA Board Member Visits
Seattle Irish Immigration Support Group

Last December, Fr. Michael Leonard had the opportunity of meeting with John Keane of the SIISG while visiting family for the holidays.  Fr. Leonard, Chaplain at the Chicago Irish Immigrant Support Center, is also one of the Board Members of the Irish Apostolate USA.    The IAUSA Board decided last year that each of the Chaplains would visit another IIPC or Outreach Network across the United States in an effort to support and enhance the relationship between the IAUSA as a national organization and the local center's outreach to Irish immigrants.


During the visit, John was able to share details of the growing outreach by the SIISG to the Irish Seniors living in the Seattle area.  The SIISG coordinates a Mass celebrated by Fr. John Madigan of Holy Rosary Church, and a luncheon.  In addition, the SIISG communicates with the Irish Seniors via a monthly newsletter which keeps them abreast of the many activities in the Irish community.   


The SIISG supports Irish immigrants in Western Washington who need assistance of any kind, whether because of drug or alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, work problems, family issues, visa problems, problems with the INS or the Police.  Free advice and referral assistance are available by calling Toll-Free 1-877-517-3559 or by emailing   


My View: A Path to Citizenship
by Bishop John Wester
Diocese of Salt Lake City


It is safe to say that the word amnesty remains a lightning rod in the immigration debate, with many elected officials, commentators and others labeling any and all positive immigration proposals with the "A" word.


Often, however, such proposals are mischaracterized once examined and explained. According to the Webster's Dictionary, the word "amnesty" means "an act of forgiving; forgetting of offenses; a general pardon of the offenses of subjects against the government ... " The same source defines "forgive" as "to grant remission of an offense, debt, fine or penalty; to free from the consequences of an injurious act."


From a faith perspective, amnesty is not a dirty word. As people of faith, which the majority of Americans are, we have been granted amnesty from a loving and merciful God who in His compassion has offered us forgiveness and eternal life.


Nor should amnesty raise any concerns that it be from a civil perspective. Compassion and forgiveness are important American values, and as we have seen consistently over the years, Americans are a compassionate people.


Even if the idea of forgiving those who immigrate without documentation is offensive to some, it is difficult to understand how a program which provides a path to citizenship can be credibly described as amnesty.


Participation in the program would not be easy or cheap. Rather, it requires that immigrants pay a fine for their illegal status, pay back taxes, learn English, and wait for several years before becoming eligible to apply for permanent residency and citizenship.


Immigrants who earn permanent residency and citizenship by meeting these requirements are not being forgiven for their offense. They are earning their right to remain in the United States.


Not only is the program an arduous yet fair path to citizenship, it is good public policy that would benefit the United States. By allowing undocumented workers to remain in the United States and work, our nation would continue to receive the benefits of their labor in a variety of important industries, such as agriculture, service and construction. At the same time, we would uphold our longstanding labor policies of fair wages and safe working conditions - protections currently denied to undocumented workers.


It would support national security goals by encouraging the undocumented to come out of the shadows and identify themselves to the government. And it would promote family unity by ensuring that undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children - 98,000 of whom were deported and separated from their children last year - receive legal status and remain with their children.


Despite these advantages, critics of this formula argue that a path to citizenship rewards lawbreakers or worse, illegals and should be rejected solely on this premise.


The word "illegals" as applied to human beings is offensive and has no place in the public debate. No human being, imbued with God-given rights, is illegal.


The "lawbreaker" charge is a powerful sound bite but holds less sway when you consider that the effects of the lawbreaking, as well as the intent of the migrants who break the law, are not harmful but helpful to the economic well-being of our nation. The intent of the migrant is to come and work and the effect is that they support the U.S. economy by filling crucial jobs in important industries.


Moreover, we must consider whether U.S. immigration policy is so broken that it creates conditions whichencourage illegal immigration and lawbreaking. While the United States has spent billions of dollars on border enforcement the past ten years, during the same period the number of undocumented has more than doubled. This is primarily because, once they run the gauntlet of the border, more than eighty percent of migrants find work with U.S. companies.


This powerful magnet of available jobs induces the flow of immigrants into this country. Our national immigration policies send mixed signals, with a "keep out" sign hung at the border and a "help wanted" sign at the workplace.


The challenge for lawmakers is to acknowledge that the law itself is inconsistent and then to fix it, first by creating a path to citizenship for immigrants in the United States and then creating legal channels for migrants to come and work in a legal, orderly and controlled manner.


To date, the public debate on immigration has been characterized in some measure by misinformation and labeling of immigrants. Words like 'amnesty," and "lawbreakers," and "illegals" have become misleading terms of art which evoke emotional, not intellectual or reasoned, reaction.


Despite the harsh rhetoric, well over half of Americans support a path to citizenship for the undocumented, however it may be labeled. Perhaps we are beginning to realize that all of us, immigrants and citizens alike, have benefitted from forgiveness in our lives.


Hopefully, Congress will move beyond the emotion and include a path to citizenship in any final bill. To do this would serve the long-term national interest and demonstrate that effective policy solutions are based on facts, not rhetoric.

Join the Justice for Immigrants Campaign

The Justice for Immigrants Campaign continues to build its grassroots support for comprehensive immigration reform.  
If you want to be notified of immigration legislation updates , NOW is the time to join the JFI Action Alert list.  Sign up at: 
The Irish Apostolate USA is the umbrella organization for the Irish Immigration Pastoral and Outreach Centers in the United States, under the direction of the Irish Episcopal Council for Emigrants. 

Please visit our website for more information: 
Geri Garvey, Administrator
Irish Apostolate USA
Phone/Fax:  301-384-3375     Email: administrator@usairish.org