Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 5 – Immigration Q & A

Do immigrants increase the crime rate?
Research has shown that immigrant communities do not increase the crime rate and that immigrants commit fewer crimes than native born Americans.

Do immigrants take jobs away from Americans?
A study produced by the Pew Hispanic Center reveals that “Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers.”

Are immigrants are a drain on the United States economy?
The immigrant community is not a drain on the U.S. economy but, in fact, proves to be a net benefit.  Research reported by both the CATO Institute and the President’s Council of Economic Advisors reveals that the average immigrant pays a net 80,000 dollars more in taxes than they collect in government services.

Longer answers to these and other questions can be found at

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 4 – Immigration Q & A

Today we look at some of the basics of immigration such as:

Who is an immigrant?
According to U.S. law, an immigrant is a foreign-born individual who has been admitted to reside permanently in the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).

Who is a refugee?
A refugee is a person outside of the United States who seeks protection on the grounds that he or she fears persecution in his or her homeland. To obtain refugee status, a person must prove that he or she has a "wellfounded fear of persecution" on the basis of at least one of five specifically-enumerated and internationally recognized grounds.

What public benefits do immigrants and refugees receive?
Most benefits programs are open only to long-term, lawful immigrants. A small number of programs (such as school lunch programs and emergency medical services) are open to all people in need.

Longer answers to these and other questions can be found at

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 3 -- Immigration Q & A

Does the Catholic Church support “amnesty”?

The Catholic bishops are proposing an earned legalization for those in this country in an unauthorized status and who have built up equities and are otherwise admissible. “Amnesty,” as commonly understood, implies a pardon and a reward for those who did not obey immigration laws, creating inequities for those who wait for legal entry. The bishops’ proposal is not an “amnesty.”

The Bishops’ earned legalization proposal provides a window of opportunity for undocumented immigrants who are already living in our communities and contributing to our nation to come forward, pay a fine and application fee, go through rigorous criminal background checks and security screenings, demonstrate that they have paid taxes and are learning English, and obtain a visa that could lead to permanent residency, over time.

Learn more at

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Day 2 -- Immigration Q & A

Does the Catholic Church support illegal immigration? 

The Catholic Bishops do not condone unlawful entry or circumventions of our nation’s immigration laws.  The bishops believe that reforms are necessary in order for our nation’s immigration system to respond to the realities of separated families and labor demands that compel people to immigrate to the United States, whether in an authorized or unauthorized fashion. 

Our nation’s economy demands foreign labor, yet there are insufficient visas to meet this demand.  Close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents face interminable separations, sometimes of twenty years or longer, due to backlogs of available visas.  U.S. immigration laws and policies need to be updated to reflect these realities.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Q & A about immigration reform

Today we begin a week of questions and answers about immigration reform and the Catholic Church. All the answers are taken from the Bishops’ website at

Today’s question: Why does the church care about immigration policies?

The Catholic Church has historically held a strong interest in immigration and how public policy affects immigrants seeking a new life in the United States. Based on Scriptural and Catholic social teachings, as well as her own experience as an immigrant Church in the United States, the Catholic Church is compelled to raise her voice on behalf of those who are marginalized and whose God-given rights are not respected.

The Church believes that current immigration laws and policies have often led to the undermining of immigrants’ human dignity and have kept families apart.  The existing immigration system has resulted in a growing number of persons in this country in an unauthorized capacity, living in the shadows as they toil in jobs that would otherwise go unfilled.  Close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents must wait years for a visa to be reunited.  And, our nation’s border enforcement strategies have been ineffective and have led to the death of thousands of migrants. 

The Church has a responsibility to shine the message of God on this issue and help to build bridges between all parties so that an immigration system can be created that is just for all and serves the common good, including the legitimate security concerns of our nation.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Global Day of Prayer for Peace

The international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need, united with His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, is asking people to join in a Global Day of Prayer for Peace to be held on Wednesday, August 6 – the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Patriarch Sako has personally composed this Prayer for Peace:
The plight of our country
is deep and the suffering of Christians
is severe and frightening.
Therefore, we ask you Lord
to spare our lives, and to grant us patience,
and courage to continue our witness of Christian values
with trust and hope.
Lord, peace is the foundation of life;
Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us
to live with each other without fear and anxiety,
and with dignity and joy.
Glory be to you forever.
To learn more, go here.

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Monday, August 04, 2014

A thought for today

When working on matters of peace and justice, it is easy to become discouraged, to lose hope. However, it is important to remember that our prayers, our actions, our advocacy can have an impact beyond our small field of vision. Consider this:

"People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do," Servant of God Dorothy Day (1897-1980).


Friday, August 01, 2014

Gaza and peace

Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, President of Catholic Relief Services, have written to members of Congress, urging support of an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian relief for Gaza as well as for support of a just and lasting peace.
. . . the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land has declared that all of these killings “are products of the injustice and of the hatred that the occupation fosters in the hearts of those prone to such deeds. These deaths are in no way justifiable and we mourn with those who mourn the waste of these young lives.” The status quo leads to deep desperation in Gaza and the West Bank, and to poverty where there should be economic opportunity. Furthermore, are excessive actions of hostility and indiscriminate punishment not breeding a whole new generation of terrorists? 
Catholic Relief Services has had to suspend operations in Gaza due to the violence, but with U.S. support, is prepared to resume humanitarian and development assistance to Gaza’s vulnerable population when a ceasefire is achieved. Such assistance reduces desperation and is good for both Palestinians and Israelis alike. 
We urge Congress to support an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian relief for Gaza. In addition, Congress should support the difficult, but essential, work of building a just and lasting peace. Only the establishment of a viable and independent Palestinian state in the near term living alongside a recognized and secure Israel will bring the peace for which majorities of both Israelis and Palestinians yearn. 
It is our hope and prayer that one day we might look back and find that this recent cycle of violence was the last — a cycle broken by a just and lasting peace agreement. Together with Pope Francis, let us agree “not to spare prayer or any effort to end every hostility and seek the desired peace for the good of all.” Let our refrain be that of Pope Francis: “Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.”
You can read the entire letter here.

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