A delegation from the Catholic community in California on Aug. 16 delivered more than 900 letters, signed by the state's Hispanic Catholic leaders, to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office in San Francisco, urging her to protect international humanitarian and development aid for migrants and refugees. The letters also urge her to protect programs that reduce hunger and poverty in the United States and to find a permanent legislative solution for DACA young adults or "dreamers."
The Catholic delegation was made up of representatives of the Dioceses of Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco and Stockton, as well as Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic bishops. Two delegates were from the Diocese of Sacramento, Carolina Estrada, coordinator of the diocese's office of Catholic Charities and Social Concerns, and Maria Jose Fernandez, a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) young adult who is the legislative advocate for family and pro-life concerns for the California Catholic Conference. The delegation asked Sen. Feinstein to support fiscal yera 2019 international and humanitarian and development aid that provides lifesaving assistance to refugees and displaced persons, as well as addresses the root causes of forced migration.
The meeting was a follow-up from the Region XI meeting last April in Visalia for the Fifth National Encuentro. In that meeting, 11 bishops, including Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, who is president of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, along with 2,000 participants signed letters urging Congress to act to find permanent legislative solution for "dreamers." This delegation took 900 of those letters to Sen. Feinstein's office, while another delegation of Hispanic Catholic leaders delivered letters to the office of Sen. Kamala Harris in Los Angeles.
"Many Central Americans are forced to flee their homes due to excessive violence and a lack of economic opportunity. In collaboration with the local church, CRS programming seeks to address the root causes of migration and creates opportunities for families to thrive in their communities,” said Ken Preston, CRS relationship manager for Northern California.
In partnership with the U.S. government, the church implements programming across the world to reduce poverty and violence, two of the main drivers of migration. In Central America, CRS has trained more than 6,000 vulnerable young people to find work, start small businesses or resume their studies.
The request submitted to Sen. Feinstein’s office also urges her to continue to invest in programs such as SNAP and the earned-income tax credit, which contribute to the reduction of hunger and poverty in the United States. In addition, the letter calls for her to find a permanent legislative solution for "dreamers" that includes a path to citizenship without dismantling the family immigration system or sacrificing protections for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers.