Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s Statement of Migrants Unexpectedly Flown to Massachusetts from Florida

I would like to begin this week sharing with you a statement I issued earlier today on the situation of the immigrants and refugees who unexpectedly arrived on Martha’s Vineyard”:

Immigration policies and practices stand as an abiding moral, legal and political challenge to our Commonwealth and our country. We have delayed far too long in developing an effective response to immigrants, migrants, and refugees at a moment when the movement of men, women, children, and families surpasses any other known example in our history. 

Our common humanity is the lens through which our response to immigrants and refugees must be judged.  Pope Francis has made the plight of immigrants and refugees a constant theme of his pontificate. The Holy Father’s witness, in word and deed, has been based on understanding immigrants and refugees as pilgrims forced by socio-economic conditions, human rights abuses, and the climate crisis to leave their homes in search of safety, security, and stability for themselves and their families. 

This week the humanity and vulnerability that immigrants and refugees share have come home to us in Massachusetts.  The Venezuelan refugees have come from a situation of enormous oppression and suffering in their own country. 

As is often the case, human tragedy evokes moral goodness. The citizens of Martha’s Vineyard have shown us all how common humanity motivates generosity and effective kindness. I commend young and old for their example and effective response. 

The need for a systematic longer-term response is required. I thank Governor Baker for his promise of providing shelter and security for those who have come to us in Massachusetts without either. An effective strategy inevitably requires the leadership and assistance of state and city governments. Within that basic framework, other organizations can then make their skilled response. Catholic Charities of Boston has informed me of their readiness to cooperate with civil authorities in welcoming those who come to our Commonwealth in need of assistance. Not only Venezuelans but Haitians and other Latin Americans are caught up in the crushing emergency of the U.S. southern border. When non-profit agencies can partner with civil authorities, people at risk will find welcome, support and space to organize their lives. 

In a globalized world, immigration challenges will continue. In our country, a broken immigration system requires immediate reform. From the Dreamers who still seek legal stability in their lives, to those fleeing war in Ukraine, poverty in Latin America and Africa, or crises in the Middle East, the call of our common humanity will be with us for years to come. I pray we will be equal to the challenge. 

Last March, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6) with broad bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the Senate has failed to take up the bill. If it does not do so by the time the 117th Congress ends on January 3, 2023, the bill will have to be reintroduced and the process begun all over again in the 118th Congress. As one way to participate in National Migration Week, urge Congress to move forward with creating a pathway to permanent legal status for Dreamers today. 
 Message to Congress: Allow Dreamers to Take Part in Building Our Country’s Future during this year’s National Migration Week, I join with my fellow Catholics and others of goodwill across the United States in urging Congress to enact legislation that would promote the full integration of Dreamers before the 117th Congress ends. Dreamers are among those living on the existential peripheries of our society, but the common good requires that they be embraced, not least of all because of their daily contributions. I am especially concerned about those currently protected by DACA because of ongoing litigation and its consequences for them, their families, their employers, and the communities depending on them. I am grateful for the bipartisan passage of the American Dream and Promise Act by the House of Representatives last year. All of Congress must do its part to provide certainty to Dreamers, as well as the families, employers, and communities depending on them. As Pope Francis reminds us, “We cannot leave to future generations the burden of responsibility for decisions that need to be made now.”Please prioritize the passage of legislation providing Dreamers with a pathway to permanent legal status and citizenship.

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