Fifteen representatives from Jesuit parishes and organizations in New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina, participated in a Day of Virtual Action in Spanish with a member of Senator Bob Menéndez’s (D-NJ) staff on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
This initiative was possible thanks to the efforts of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality (OIS) of the USA East Jesuit province, and the magnificent work of José Arnulfo Cabrera and the entire team at the Ignatian Solidarity Network, an organization dedicated to the development of social justice from an Ignatian perspective.
Events such as this are essential to the life of faith. The promotion of social justice is part of our commitment as lay people to the Ignatian mission. It was significant that we were able to take action in this way for the first time. As representatives of Jesuit institutions, we expressed our concerns about current migration policies and shared personal stories familiar to many people affected by recent policies and decisions regarding DACA and TPS.
Many of the young beneficiaries of DACA in our communities are healthcare workers. They have been on the frontlines in hospitals caring for COVID-19 patients. They are also teachers who put considerable effort into ensuring that children receive a high-quality education. These young people were raised and educated here in the United States, and they work everyday to make this country, which they consider their home, a better place.
Four members of OIS’s Comunidades Hispanas Ignacianas talked about their experiences, which reflect the feelings of many who do not dare to share theirs, either out of fear or because they have not had the opportunity or the means to do so. We heard poignant testimonies about family reunions, the frustrated dreams of those who fear losing TPS, families that could be separated, and wonderful leaders serving in Jesuit parishes who are soon to be deported.
The petitions presented to the Senator’s office were the following:
- Restore access to asylum at the border.
- Release detained immigrants so that they can be safe with their families.
- Halt the deportation of immigrants, especially those that have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Eliminate the restrictions for families that have a mixed status (and with ITIN) that qualify for federal economic aid.
- Guarantee that those currently protected by DACA and TPS have stability and can stay safe without being deported.
Thank you to all who participated and facilitated this opportunity to share our experiences, put our faith in action, and continue our Ignatian work for social justice.
[Editor’s Note: This story was originally published by the Jesuits East Office of Ignatian Spirituality.]
Zandra Schiemann is the program coordinator of Ignatian Hispanic Ministries at the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.