Immigration Reform: Action Plan for Catholic Campuses
ACCU, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Faith in Public Life are targeting fall 2013 for substantive advocacy with the House of Representatives on immigration reform. We are hopeful that the House will take action toward comprehensive legislation in September or October, and have developed a number of resources that will assist presidents and others on our campuses during this time.
Take Action: November 13, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, will be a National Call-In Day to Congress on the important topic of comprehensive immigration reform. On that day, the Feast Day of Saint Frances Cabrini, Catholics are urged to call their Congressional representatives with this simple message: Support a path to citizenship and oppose punitive border security measures. For more information, please visit the Justice for Immigrants website.
Action Steps for Catholic College and University Presidents:
- Call Members of Congress – One of the most important actions a president can take is to personally call his or her local Member of Congress, any alumni who are Members of Congress, or any Members of Congress who presidents know personally. When possible, face-to-face meetings with local Members of Congress are even better. (Review suggested talking points [PDF, 23K].)
Attend events in Washington, DC – Plans are underway to organize an October lobby day in Washington, DC for presidents with three components:
- A Mass on Capitol Hill for presidents and all Catholic Members of Congress.
- Coordinated lobby visits focused on key Members, ideally following the Mass.
- An evening reception with key Members of Congress (especially Catholic members of House and Senate leadership).
- Host a Mass on campus to kick off immigration events and action – A great way to elevate the immigration debate is to engage students in discussion, reflection, and prayer on this issue. We recommend a series of campus events designed to do this, with the first event being a Mass to pray for both the families threatened by deportation and wisdom for leaders in Congress. These Masses could become the focus of news coverage if they occur on dozens of campuses on the same day, or even during the same week. Ideally, Masses should take place in mid-September – potentially Wednesday, September 25. These Masses can set the stage for additional campus events.
Engage and mobilize students – The more visible energy there is behind immigration reform, the better our chances of changing policy. We recommend a host of activities to energize students:
- Town hall forums featuring Catholic DREAMers and clergy leaders active on immigration. (E-mail Ria Riesner - firstname.lastname@example.org - for a list of potential speakers to invite.)
- Postcard-sending campaigns, during which students send personal notes to Members of Congress. (Download sample postcards from www.justiceforimmigrants.org.)
- Text message campaigns to keep students engaged and informed of important developments. (For a text message number to share with students, contact Ria Riesner: email@example.com.)
- Partner with local bishops – Having local bishops standing shoulder to shoulder with a college president is itself a powerful message. The USCCB and FPL can help coordinate joint press events and/or op-eds.
- Write and submit op-eds – FPL can assist with writing and editing op-eds to help maximize chances of publication. (For details, contact John Gehring: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Other activities for campus faculty, staff, and students include:
- Participate in district visits to representatives (either on their own or with larger Catholic groups).
- Attend town hall meetings and speak.
- Call your representatives. (Review suggested talking points [PDF, 23K].)
- Send postcards to congressional representatives.
- Arrange for campus ministry to coordinate prayer services and Masses focused on immigration. Campus ministers may want to make use of pulpit announcements (PDF, 448K) that address immigration reform.
Other resources that may be useful to your campus:
- Catholic colleges and universities announce national advocacy campaign for common sense immigration reform (Faith in Public Life)
- Immigration reform falls to the back of the line (New York Times)
- To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the joint Mexican/U.S. pastoral letter Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, the Department of Migration & Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a new book, On 'Strangers No Longer'
- Undocumented students: Immigration issues on campus connects immigration reform with social justice (Conversations magazine)
- August 2013 White House report on economic benefits of earned citizenship
- The summer of immigration groundwork: Working toward passing a new law (Catholic News Service)
- Immigration reform's no. 1 enemy: Time (Politico.com)
- Bishops' immigration outreach based on 'pastoral' concern (Catholic News Agency)