Catholic Leaders Call For Immigration Reform At Border Mass

By Jude Joffe-Block
April 01, 2014
George Martell/The Pilot Media Group
Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston gives communion through the slotted border fence to people attending Mass.

PHOENIX — A Catholic cardinal and several bishops held a bilingual Mass at the border dividing Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Mex., on Tuesday. The Catholic clergy are calling on Congress to fix the broken immigration system.  

The Mass recognized migrants who died trying to cross the border. It drew hundreds of people, including those who watched through the border fence from Mexico.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston told media afterwards that the rule of law must prevail, but the laws must change if they violate God-given rights.

“We can no longer tolerate the human suffering caused by this broken system,” O’Malley said. “Families are separated, migrant workers are exploited, and tragically human beings are dying on both sides of this wall.”

The U.S. Bishops support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. But the issue of immigration reform appears to have completely stalled in a divided Congress. The Bishops are asking people to contact their representatives and pray and fast for immigration reform.

Pope Francis has spoken out for just and dignified treatment of migrants.

“His very first trip after his election as Pope was to Lampedusa, which is the Nogales of Europe,” O’Malley said, referring to Pope Francis’ visit to the island off of Italy where many African migrants attempt to enter the European continent.

After the Mass, immigrant rights activists rallied at the border as a Mexican immigrant named Jaime Valdez turned himself in to border officials.

Valdez was deported in February to his native Mexico, and wants to fight to stay here from inside this country.

He was deported while his father was on a hunger strike outside of the Phoenix ICE office.

After Valdez crossed, Customs and Border Protection temporarily closed the Morley Gate crossing. Spokeswoman Teresa Small said the disruption was “to ensure the safety and security of our officers and the traveler.”