“Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country”, the US Bishops have told Congress.

– Immigrant and refugee essential workers “completely left out of COVID-19 relief”

“The Church teaches that every human being is created in God’s image and deserves dignity and respect”, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville told the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship September 23.

Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, submitted written testimony for a hearing on “Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19”.

“The contributions of essential workers have become undoubtedly more important during COVID-19”, Dorsonville told the Committee.

“While many essential workers are US citizens, many are also immigrants and refugees. Immigrants comprise 31% of U.S. agricultural employees… [and] they risk their own safety to support their families and to ensure continuity in the nation’s food supply chains”.

Not only are immigrant and refugee essential workers “highly vulnerable” to the coronavirus, but they are also “less likely to have access to medical care and thus far have been completely left out of any federal COVID-19 relief or assistance”, Dorsonville alerted.

For those reasons, in the name of the US Bishops he urged Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in future, and past, COVID-19 assistance.

In addition, Dorsonville explained to the House that the US Bishops’ position is for a path to citizenship to be opened up for undocumented workers “who have been living, working, and contributing to our country”.

“As Pope Francis states: ‘No one must be left behind'”, the bishop stressed.

– “Lives will be upended”: lament over end to Temporary Protected Status for over 200,000 people

Dorsonville’s testimony Wednesday is the latest of a number of new initiatives of the USCCB on behalf of immigrants and refugees.

On September 15, Dorsonville – along with Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the USCCB president and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services – decried a court decision to overturn a pause on the Trump administration’s attempt to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 200,000 individuals living legally in the US.

“Our nation must not turn its back on TPS recipients and their families; they too are children of God”, Dorsonville, Gomez and Callahan stated.

“We stand in solidarity with TPS recipients, who are here and have been living and working in the United States legally, and we will continue to do so with them in their countries of origin”,.

Without action by Congress, however, to guarantee a future for TPS families “recipients’ lives will be upended”, they warned. “Congress must act to ensure that such catastrophic human consequences do not occur”.

– A call to recognise the contributions of Hispanic and Latino leadership

Also on the subject of multiculturalism, the chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs has issued a call to the Church and society to recognise the historic and current contributions of Hispanic and Latino leadership.

As the US celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15, auxiliary bishop of Detroit Arturo Cepeda praised Hispanic and Latino Catholics for their “entrepreneurship, profound awareness and care about the social ailments of our society, as well as their strong commitment to social justice, including a wide range of life issues”.

Recent research has shown that from 1990 to 2016 the number of Hispanic and Latino Catholics in the US increased by about 13.7 million, while the overall Catholic population in the country grew by about 3.6 million.

But Hispanic and Latino Catholics are not just breathing new life into the Church, but are also contributing to wider society as well, Cepeda said. “Hispanics, and in particular Hispanic Catholics, are determined to be part of the solution to the current reality: the COVID-19 pandemic, the call for racial justice, and the continuing impact of global climate change”, the bishop explained.

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