USCCB News Release
July 14, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Comprehensive Immigration Reform To Be A Major Topic At National Migration Conference
WASHINGTON— Comprehensive immigration reform will be a major topic at the 2008 National Migration Conference, "Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice," to be held July 28-31 at the Hilton Washington Hotel.
"The issue of immigration is one of the most controversial domestic concerns facing our country," said Kevin Appleby, director of Migration and Refugee Policy at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "The Holy Father spoke about the human side of the issue several times during his April visit. The conference will examine the issue in-depth and hopefully provide conference participants more insight into it and how the Church can make a positive contribution to the national debate."
In his keynote address on opening night, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles will speak on the current national immigration debate and give participants a blueprint for engaging in the debate and creating the political will for comprehensive reform.
Professor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Ph.D., an expert on international migration from New York University, will give a detailed presentation on global migration patterns and their root causes, linking them to the current U.S. situation.
On Tuesday, July 29, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement Julie Myers will speak and answer questions from participants on the recent government enforcement raids around the country.
In the afternoon several workshops will focus upon immigration and the need for reform. Two successive workshops—"Back to the Future: Strategies for Comprehensive Immigration Reform" and "Back to the Future: Comprehensive Reform and Messaging"— will revisit lessons learned from the loss of reform in 2007 and steps necessary to win new reforms in 2009 and beyond. The second workshop will look at proper messaging to influence Catholics and others and to counter the anti-immigrant rhetoric often used by opponents of reform. The Justice for Immigrants Campaign, the U.S. bishops' effort to educate Catholics on immigration, will host a reception Tuesday night.
Also on Tuesday afternoon, a workshop entitled "Catholic Teaching and Migration," will focus upon Catholic teaching as the underpinning for the Catholic position on immigration. "All of our work on migration is grounded in Catholic social teaching. Catholic teaching determines the advocacy positions we take, the people we serve, and the way we structure our programs," said Donald Kerwin, executive director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), which co-sponsors the event.
The workshop will feature a talk, by Fr. Daniel Groody, of the University Notre Dame, on the core principles of Catholic social teaching; Jill Gerschutz, of the U.S. Jesuit Conference, will apply these principles to the current policy debate; and Kerwin will be speaking on what Catholic teaching has to say about the competing visions of nationality that underlie the immigration debate.
Immigration reform will also be a topic for Advocacy Day, Wednesday, July 30, when hundreds of participants will visit their legislators on Capitol Hill.
Nearly 700 people from all parts of the country have registered to participate in the conference. The USCCB Migration and Refugee Services and CLINIC co-sponsor these large-scale gatherings every five years to help their networks become more technically proficient, to solidify their ties to colleagues in the field, and to bring a collective voice to bear on Capitol Hill. "Above all, however, these gatherings are intended remind all of us why we do the work we do," added Kerwin.The conference will include several presentations on faith and migration and the USCCB’s Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church will offer several workshops on providing pastoral care and welcoming to newcomers.