The Dominican Sisters of Peace have taken an official stance promoting comprehensive immigration reform, a spokesman for the congregation of Catholic Sisters said.
This month the sisters voted and approved a corporate stance that states:
"We, Dominican Sisters of Peace, call for comprehensive immigration reform that would provide additional viable legal avenues for immigration, reunite families, legalize undocumented persons, and establish opportunities for permanent residency."
"This actually is a reflection of a movement in the larger Catholic Church, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops themselves," said Karen Clay, communications director.
The Dominican Sisters of Peace, which includes the Great Bend ministry, is a congregation of more than 600 Dominican sisters and 500 Dominican associates who live and minister in 36 states and in Honduras, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, and Vietnam. A corporate stance is a deliberate public statement made after members have studied, discussed and prayed about all sides of the issues at hand, then voted, with a two-thirds majority needed to pass.
An indicator of the primacy and urgency the Dominican Sisters of Peace place on the issue of immigration reform, this is the first corporate stance undertaken by the congregation, which was established in 2009. The first actions planned in the new push for immigration reform include "efforts to debunk myths about and work to pass immigration reform legislation," the sisters said. That includes attempts to promote legislation similar to the defeated Dream Act bill.
"We see immigration reform as a humanitarian issue that has an impact on basic human rights and the dignity of the human person," said Sister Judy Morris, OP, justice promoter for the Dominican Sisters of Peace. "Legislative reform is in everyone’s best interest, even for those who are focused only on economic concerns." She cited labor market studies that show immigrants fill jobs in a variety of sectors, start their own businesses and contribute to growth in the economy.
"We join our voices with those who believe that immediate attention should be given to providing opportunities for the education of undocumented young persons brought to the United States as children," said Sister Robin Richard, OP, chair of the congregation’s Immigration Reform Committee. Citing one effort that she says should be renewed, Richard explained that the Dream Act would have created a tiered system granting legal status to unauthorized aliens who arrived in the United States before age 16. "Although this bill did not pass, we believe this legislation needs to resurface in a form that achieves its original purpose," she said. "It is a good beginning towards comprehensive immigration reform."
One of the main goals of the congregation is to replace myths regarding immigration with facts, Morris said. "Long-standing injustices concerning immigrants need to be replaced by just legislation. Both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures draw us to stand with the ‘stranger and aliens,’ the poor and outcast. This new corporate stance will help us to stand in solidarity with immigrants, acting on their behalf with the strong voice of our full congregation."
The Dominican Sisters of Peace are a congregation committed to greater involvement in the global community and simplicity of life, with diverse ministries that include education, health care, social work, spiritual direction and parish-based ministries. They work to create environments of peace by promoting non-violence, unity in diversity, reconciliation, and justice through solidarity, especially for women and children. For more information on the congregation, see www.oppeace.org.