WASHINGTON (April 25, 1997) -- With fewer than 100 days remaining before the immigrant provisions of last year's welfare reform bill are fully implemented, the Chairman of the Bishops' Committee on Migration is urging that Congress pass legislation "to ameliorate the severe hardship that this law will impose on our communities."
Bishop John S. Cummins of Oakland (CA) sent a letter to all 535 members of Congress this week drawing attention to the plight of the "most vulnerable legal immigrants among us: children, the elderly, the disabled, and those who have sought our protection from persecution abroad." He noted that while he was pleased that several proposals have been introduced in Congress to address the problems, they would, "at best, provide only a temporary and inadequate reprieve" to the law's harshest provisions. He strongly urged that Congress instead pass "a definitive solution."
The two-page letter includes four examples of immigrants legally present in the United States who face severe hardship when the provisions terminating benefits is fully implemented this summer. Bishop Cummins refers to "a 92-year old woman who, unless Congress acts swiftly, will soon face homelessness and destitution. She suffers from dementia and cannot provide any information about her place of birth....she has no family here who can verify information about her."
"We ask you to act swiftly and forcefully to prevent this needless harm to our elderly, infirm, and our children," Bishop Cummins wrote.