A group of immigration advocates will travel to Rome in hopes of obtaining support from Pope Francis. The activists want U.S. laws changed and believe that the the pope can help with their cause.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese has been working with the pro-immigration reform group in order to try and get an audience with the pope. The plan is to meet with the pope on March 26. The next day, March 27, is the date that the pope will be meeting with President Obama. Clearly, the group wants to get their message to the pope in time for the meeting and potentially influence the conversation.
The group is comprised of more than one dozen activists and at least two children whose parents are undocumented immigrants. Although the group traveling to the Vatican may be small, they are bringing with them more than 1,000 letters from those who support the cause. Many of these letters have been written by children whose parents are in danger of being deported.
Those hoping to see Pope Francis have some lofty goals. “I'm going to give him a card and I want him to hear my situation,” said Jersey Vargas. Jersey is a 10-year-old who lives with his undocumented mother and father. “We are not criminals. My parents come to this country for a better life.” Jersey's father is currently in an immigration detention center and faces deportation. “I am going to tell the pope I feel very sad,” Jersey said.
It's undoubtedly a tough situation. However, other religious figures have come out in support of immigration reform in the past few months. In November, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York urged the House of Representatives to act on immigration reform before the end of 2013. Dolan had written a letter addressed to Speaker John Boehner and labeled immigration reform as a “matter of great moral urgency.” This letter was on behalf of more than 450 U.S. cardinals and bishops.
In California, Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez gave the local activists a blessing towards the end of a recent Mass. Gomez prayed and asked the others in the congregation to pray for the group. He asked that God would “give them the courage . . . as they stand with the poor in their struggle for dignity and justice . . . . And guide us to reform our immigration policies; that our country may live up to its spiritual promises of liberty and justice for all.”
It will be interesting to find out whether the group is granted an audience with the pope in the next few weeks or if their request goes unanswered. Either way it is inspiring to see a group of immigrants and other supporters going to such great lengths to accomplish their goal of seeing immigration reform get passed in the near future.
If you have questions about immigration matters and are seeking legal counsel, it is best to work with an experienced immigration attorney in your area. I have helped many clients throughout southern Arizona and would be happy to schedule a consultation with you.