WASHINGTON (CNS) — Faith leaders and immigrant advocates urged President Barack Obama to pardon immigrants in the country without legal documentation and people with nonviolent, federal drug offenses serving prison sentences.
“This is about protecting families,” said Richard Morales, immigration policy director for PICO, which stands for People Improving Communities Through Organizing, during a Dec. 1 news conference in the chapel of the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill.
“There is tremendous fear in our communities. This is a moral rather than legal issue. The president does have the constitutional power to grant these pardons and he needs to act,” he added.
The gathering was organized by PICO, a national network based in Oakland, California, that was founded in 1972 by a Jesuit priest.
The group is currently circulating a petition to deliver to the White House Dec. 15 urging the Obama administration to grant these pardons. It is also urging local elected officials, governors, mayors and churches across the country to take steps to designate themselves sanctuaries, protecting immigrants from deportation, in response to President-elect Donald Trump promises to deport 2 to 3 million immigrants without documentation.
“We need to think about our kids, our neighbors and their dreams,” said Miguel Oaxaca, a faith leader with Together Colorado, an immigrant advocacy group. “I am an immigrant, a father, a business owner, but most importantly, I am your neighbor. Today, I’m asking President Obama as a father to keep families together.”
“When families are broken and shattered, our country is broken and shattered,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, founding pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ in Philadelphia and PICO’s political director. “Our faith traditions underscore the power of redemption. Tens of thousands of our nonviolent brothers and sisters languish in prisons” because of U.S. policies on drugs, he said.
Reyna Montoya, a Catholic from Arizona involved in immigrant justice work, made a heartfelt plea to break down divisions.
“When I think about the moment we’re in, I think about a nation that is completely divided, without compassion and without seeing each other,” said Montoya, who has DACA status from Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Under the program, young immigrants brought into the United States by their parents as young children without legal permission are protected from deportation for two-year periods.
“Every single person in the nation has the opportunity to walk in the light or in the darkness. This is about people, our neighbors, our communities,” she said.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103