Catholic Advocates Call on Congress to Pass a Pathway to Citizenship

For Immediate Release: February 22, 2021
Contact: Lee Morrow, lmorrow@networklobby.org, 202-601-7871

Catholic Advocates Call on Congress to Pass a Pathway to Citizenship
Sr. Simone: “These are the same essential workers who have risked their lives to keep our economy running during the pandemic.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Catholic Sisters and activists of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice support comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken system that leaves millions of undocumented people without a pathway to safety and prosperity. To stay true to our faith values, NETWORK calls for the passage of the U.S. Citizenship Act.

The bill would provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people currently living and working in our communities. NETWORK is proud to support that historic step toward justice, but the bill also needs some changes. Waiting periods for health care, nutrition assistance, and other life saving programs must be removed for these newly documented immigrants. Refugee processing in Central America cannot take the place of safe and effective pathways to seek asylum. To seek asylum is a right that we must protect, especially for those in Central America. We also ask that pathways to citizenship be added for Black immigrants who have been caught up in our broken system. We hope to see these issues fixed in the final bill.

We thank all the Latinx, Black, and Asian advocates who have worked tirelessly for years to get us to this point. For them and for all of our immigrant neighbors, we urge Congress to quickly pass the U.S. Citizenship Act into law.

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice said:

“After years of advocacy led by young immigrant activists, we are finally on the path to change. The U.S. Citizenship Act reflects the Catholic social teaching that recognizes every human being’s contribution and inalienable worth. It is because of this basic dignity that immigrants who have lived in our nation for years deserve civil status and a path to citizenship. This would be a real act of loving our neighbors. Dreamers, refugees, and immigrants are our neighbors, and their home is here. All Catholics are called by our social teaching to support a pathway to citizenship, and I call on all Members of Congress to support the U.S. Citizenship Act.

“But the bill will need changes to fully protect immigrants and their families. In the proposed bill, there is currently a 5-10 year waiting period for newly documented immigrants to access the most basic federal programs that save lives. These are the same essential workers who have risked their lives to keep our economy running during the pandemic. There should be no waiting period to access health care or nutrition. We pray and will work to ensure that this error is fixed in the final bill.”

Ronnate Asirwatham, Government Relations Director for NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice said:

“We need bold leadership to pass the U.S. Citizenship Act as the first step toward restoring our values in this nation. We need to root out the racism and brutality that has been a hallmark of our immigration system and create policy that keeps human dignity as its core. This legislation puts us on that path.

“Changes to the final bill will be needed to ensure that all immigrants are treated with dignity. Safe and effective pathways to seek asylum must be added, and any waiting periods for access to health care and nutrition assistance for newly documented immigrants are unacceptable. With some necessary changes, the House and Senate must pass the U.S. Citizenship Act into law as soon as possible.”

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NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice – advocates for justice inspired by Catholic Sisters – educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. They have a nearly 50-year track record of lobbying for critical federal programs that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good. www.networklobby.org