Towards Just & Humane Immigration Reform
By Ryan Murphy, Institute Justice Team
My name is Ryan Murphy and I am the Social Justice Organizer for the Sister of Mercy of the Americas in Silver Spring, MD. For the last six months, I have had the privilege to work for the Sisters to advance just and humane immigration reform through direct advocacy, grassroots campaigns and collaboration with other faith-based organizations. Although difficult at moments, I have loved every minute of it. I am not only working for the social justice issue closest to my heart, I also encounter fantastic Mercy Sisters, Associates, Companions, students and staff that devote their lives to justice for our immigrant brother and sisters. I have consistently witnessed our unifying objective to “as an Institute,  recognize an urgent duty and challenge to stand in solidarity with immigrants, refugees and trafficked persons seeking fullness of life.”
When I joined with the Sisters of Mercy, the media and members of Congress were still analyzing the impact of the 2012 election and how comprehensive immigration reform became a political necessity for both political parties. The re-election of President Obama helped spark that the momentum for reform in Washington, DC. With the Interfaith Immigration Coalition and the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign, I have represented the Sisters of Mercy in the effort to pass immigration reform in the Senate. In June, we celebrated a major milestone to reform. Admittedly, the bill that passed, S. 744, was not perfect but it offers the most generous pathway to citizenship passed in either chamber of Congress in the last 27 years. We did not have much of an opportunity to celebrate because we knew the House of Representatives would be more complicated, which it has been.
The United States is now at a crossroads. Demands on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform are growing among faith groups, the business community, law enforcement, immigrant rights organizations and concerned citizens, yet some in Representatives are hesitant to change their political rhetoric or platform. For the last six months, constituents and in-district events have made a world of a difference in the Senate and the House. Prior to the August Recess, the House put the brakes on any immigration reform so they could hear from their constituents. Pro-immigration reform groups have responded by attending town hall meetings, hosting prayer vigils, meeting with their Representatives and organizing public events. The Sisters of Mercy have also heeded this call.
On August 27, the Sisters of Mercy will kick off a three city campaign to advance comprehensive immigration reform. Starting in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Sisters of Mercy and our faith partners will provide two roundtables (one at 2pm and one at 7pm) for the public and Representative Steve Chabot (OH-1) to hear from faith leaders, local business interest, law enforcement and DREAMers. Next, the Sisters of Mercy will put on a panel in Chicago, IL in Representative Daniel Lipinski’s district on August 29 with a diverse group of faith leaders, business, immigrant rights organization and a DREAMer who will share their professional perspectives on the need for immigration reform. The tour ends in Omaha, Nebraska with an immigration reform panel and prayer vigil on September 3 and 4.
If you live close to these locations, please consider attending. Otherwise, continue to visit our blog, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@MercyCIR for immigration-related tweets & @SistersofMercy) for frequent updates. Throughout the next two weeks, we will highlight the personal stories of individuals harmed by the broken immigration system as well as review each event.