February 2009 Volume 3, Issue 1
In this issue:
• Catholics at the Capitol • Updates on Comprehensive Immigration Reform (page 2) • News from the Archdiocese of Chicago (Back Page)
We are making final plans for Catholics at the Capitol on March 4 in Springfield. The Illinois Bishops and the Catholic Conference of Illinois invite Catholics from around the state to gather in Springfield and meet with their state representatives and senators on issues based on Catholic Social Teaching to promote the common good. Catholics at the Capitol will include a morning briefing with the Illinois Bishops and CCI staff to help prepare parish representatives for their visits with legislators that day. Following the briefing will be a Catholic schools rally at which over 2,000 Catholic school students are expected to gather. Catholics at the Capitol parish representatives will then have time for individual meetings with legislators. The seven initiatives that are the focus of Catholics at the Capitol are: - legislation to increase the Education Expense Tax Credit, utilized by Catholic
school parents, from $500 to $1000 annually; legislation to finally abolish the death penalty; legislation mandating that a woman seeking an abortion be offered the opportunity to view a sonogram before the procedure; legislation to ensure federal and state reimbursements are provided to Catholic health care and hospitals on a timely basis; opposition to legislation providing for same-sex marriage or similarly defined civil unions; legislation or budgetary action to provide a cost of doing business increase and efforts for prompt payment for Catholic Charities and other social service providers; funding to community organizations and parishes to provide English classes to immigrants.
In order to allow for CCIR – Illinois Statewide Network Members to attend Catholics at the Capitol, the Network’s February meeting has been postponed (new meeting date to be determined). The Catholic Conference of Illinois hopes Network members and those they work with are able to attend. If you have not already contacted CCI about your interest in attending the event, please contact Marilou Gervacio at (312) 368-1066. Further information on Catholics at the Capitol, including a copy of our welcome packet for those participating, can be found on the Catholic Conference of Illinois website: www.catholicconferenceof ilinois.org
CCIR – Illinois Statewide Network Updates on Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Sent in by Archdiocese of Chicago; Updates written by USCCB/Justice for Immigrants (JFI) The 111th Congress is now in session, with a large number of issues on the table. On the issue of immigration, there are both opportunities and challenges. The results of the election indicate that there are more proimmigrant votes in this Congress than in the 110th Congress. President Obama also supports the passage of comprehensive immigration reform and promised during the campaign to move on this issue during his first year in office. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated that he expects immigration reform to be taken up by the Senate by the end of 2009, and Senators John McCain and Mel Martinez, both Republicans, have publicly stated that immigration reform should move forward and that Republicans should support it. Nevertheless, the current state of the U.S. economy, which includes a rise in unemployment, will cause many elected officials to hesitate supporting a comprehensive immigration reform bill, at least until the economy improves. President Obama, citing the economy, has said that he hopes to start "the process of comprehensive immigration reform" in his first year, a statement which seems to be moving away from his initial promise of moving immigration reform in his first year. So comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) may move as soon as this Fall in the House and Spring of '10 in the Senate. Our job is to keep the issue in front of the administration. It's unclear if it will be a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill or if they'll move smaller bills first (such as the DREAM Act). USCCB CALLS FOR CONGRESS TO ACT ON CIR BILL In a telephonic press conference with over 60 reporters, Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles called upon Congress on January 8th to act on comprehensive immigration reform by the end of 2009. In addition, Bishop John C. Wester, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said in a press release January 12 that President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who met in Washington, D.C., that day, should work together to address the root causes of migration, such as economic development in poor areas of Mexico. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO ACCELERATE COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM: A) Send Letters to your U.S. House Representative and Senator via the JFI website. Despite a much improved political landscape regarding immigration, we still have our work cut out for us. In this regard, please find a sample letter to Congress asking for consideration and passage of comprehensive immigration reform early in the 111th Congress. This letter can be sent through the capwiz system on the JFI website at http://www.justiceforimmig rants.org/action.html. B) Get involved in JFI's grassroots efforts, which is starting now with a 3-pronged approach: 1) Legislative visits on the Hill. The JFI Legislative team is beginning Hill visits with Catholic House Freshmen. As they get their meetings set up, they will calling those in the respective districts to
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generate calls to the offices in support of comprehensive immigration reform. 2) In-district visits. Justice for Immigrants encouraged people over President’s Day weekend to schedule an in-district visit or attend a town hall meeting with representatives to express support for comprehensive immigration reform and the need to tackle the issue this year. We're targeting everyone, not just the Catholic freshmen. 3) Prayer vigils. Over the President's Day recess week (Feb. 13-22) Justice for Immigrants encouraged folks to host a prayer vigil or incorporate a message supporting immigrants into the liturgy. These vigils served as a public statement that let a prayer be heard and expanded upon in the community. These vigils prayed for the following immigration/community issues: Recognition of immigrant's inherent human dignity; Empowerment of the Catholic faithful to speak out and take action for immigrants; and Congress to have the leadership and moral courage to take action on immigration.
Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform – Illinois Statewide Network
News from the Archdiocese of Chicago
SAVE THE DATE! 3/21/09 TESTIMONIAL EVENT with CONGRESSMAN GUTIERREZ The Priests for Justice for Immigrants and Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants are collaborating on an event which will take place Saturday, March 21, 2009 1:30-3:00pm at Our Lady of Mercy Parish, 4432 N. Troy St., Chicago, IL 60625. Congressman Gutierrez will be present and Cardinal George has been invited to attend. The purpose of the event is to hear testimonies of citizens and permanent residents on behalf of their loved ones who have been or will be deported, and to sign petitions in a campaign to move the Obama administration to act on comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform. CCIR LENTEN CALENDAR (ENGLISH & SPANISH) Please find enclosed with this newsletter the 2009 Lenten Calendar (English and Spanish versions) with Scriptural passages and reflections for you and your parish to make the 40-day journey in greater solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters. The calendar is also available on the Archdiocese website at http://www.archchicago.org/ departments/peace_and_ju stice/immigration.shtm.
Diocese of Belleville Archdiocese of Chicago Diocese of Joliet Diocese of Peoria Diocese of Rockford Diocese of Springfield-inIllinois
For further information on the CCIR – Illinois Statewide Network, please contact: Marilou Gervacio Associate Director, Catholic Conference of Illinois Phone: (312) 368-1066 Fax: (312) 368-1090 E-mail: MarilouCCI@aol.com
About CCIR – IL Statewide Network
The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform (CCIR) – Illinois Statewide Network is composed of individuals from the six Roman Catholic dioceses in Illinois. The members include representatives who were appointed by their Diocesan Bishop along with other interested people who work with and serve immigrants in communities throughout Illinois. The Statewide Network is coordinated through the Catholic Conference of Illinois to discuss how to better serve immigrants in Illinois through our parishes and Catholic organizations as well as to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, in conjunction with the USCCB’s National Justice for Immigrants Campaign (www.justiceforimmigrants.org).