Several local parishes from Walnut, Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, and Hacienda Heights participated in the procession and rally that followed.
Father Tony Astudillo of Walnut’s St. Lorenzo Ruiz Community Church said around 150 people from his parish signed up to participate. Immigration reform is a stand of the church, so it makes sense that St. Lorenzo would answer the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ call for marchers.
“Immigration (reform) is not just about a political issue,” Astudillo said. “It’s a basic human right and it’s about justice and peace, so it should be a very basic issue of the church.”
Organizers of the march said that participants from parishes in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernardino counties came together to urge Royce to support solutions for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
Ruben Barron, a consultant who works with Catholic Charities said that on Friday, 27 church leaders met with the Republican lawmaker for about an hour. Royce told the group he would be willing to meet again on the issue, but was not receptive to moving forward with a comprehensive immigration reform plan at this time, Barron said.
“The representative is very focused on border security and unfortunately, that’s his only focus,” Barron said. “He’s not interested in a path to citizenship.”
June, the U.S. Senate approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that
included border security and citizenship measures, but when it was the House of
Representatives’ turn, it stalled because lawmakers said that most of the
Republicans in the caucus did not support the proposed legislation in its entirety.
A “reasonable and attainable” path to citizenship is part of the plan the church leaders have proposed.
Other elements for reform they are calling for include a provision for those brought to the United States as minors to gain legal status quickly so they can continue their education and enter the workforce, the reduction of immigration application backlogs, a temporary worker program that is safe and fair to immigrants and non-immigrants alike, restoration of due process protections for those going through the immigration justice system, the protection of refugees and unaccompanied immigrant children, and a way of dealing with the root causes of immigration.
Father Edward Poettgen, with Catholic Charities, said immigration reform has long been part of the church’s mission. Ignoring the issue is harmful to society, he said.
“You wind up with a class system that’s very un-American,” Eoettgen said. “You take advantage of people who don’t have full rights and responsibilities.”
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