As reported by Xchelzin Peña in the Las Cruces Sun-News, February 21, 2018:
LAS CRUCES - Bishop Oscar Cantú, leader of the Las Cruces Catholic Diocese, kissed the feet of DREAMers before washing them with Holy water Tuesday at the San Pedro Del Cerro Mission in Vado.June 25, 2018 update: Here's another example, as reported by the New Hampshire Union Leader, May 20, 2018:
The symbolic gesture, based on the story in the Bible of Jesus cleaning the feet of his disciples, was intended to highlight the plights of those who entered into the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program established under President Barack Obama, which is scheduled to be discontinued next month.
“We’ve realized how vulnerable they are, especially that so many of them have given all their information to the government, in good faith obviously," Cantú said. "So, we wanted to lift a prayer for our country and Congress that they will enact a law that will provide a pathway for legalization for DREAMers and their parents.”
The event was organized by the diocese in coordination with New Mexico Communidades en Acción y de Fé (NM CAFe), which is part of the PICO National Network, the largest faith-based community organization in the country.
About 10 young immigrants attended. Johana Bencomo, community organizer of NM CAFe, said some of those who received the foot washing are protected under DACA, while other did not qualify.
“You can be a DREAMer and not have DACA, but if you’re a DACA you’re a DREAMer,” Bencomo said.
Those not protected under DACA are at risk of deportation, while DACA recipients are threatened to be stripped from their ability to live and work in the United States if Congress fails to produce an agreement by March 5, the deadline set by President Donald Trump.
A court order has temporarily stopped the administration from winding down the program, but a final decision by the courts is still pending.
Former President Barrack Obama created the federal program to protect illegal immigrants who were brought into the country as children. The Trump administration announced its rescission on September 5, 2017.
Cantú said he, along with other bishops from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), have been involved with the issue since the DREAM Act was first introduced in the early 2000’s. The act failed to pass in 2010, prompting Obama to take executive action.
Bencomo said Wednesday's ceremony was to also lift the stories of DREAMers and their families during the congressional recess.
“We wanted these events to be happening the week Congress members are back home, so that they can remember why they do the work they do,” Bencomo said.
If no agreement is reached in Congress, the approximate 12,000 Dreamers in New Mexico must individually decide what to do, Cantu said.
“We really haven’t gone there. And I am not sure, it’s going to depend on each family. I can’t make that decision for them nor anybody else,” Cantú said. “I think if they were to be deported or forced to leave on their own, it would be a loss for this country and a gain for whatever country receives them.”
During the ceremony, Bishop Cantú called out to the DREAMers asking them how they felt about their situation.
DACA recipient Viviana Arciniega, 21, responded that she felt desperate to find the answer to her future. Born in Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, she came into the U.S. when she was 3 years old. Throughout the years, Arciniega and her family moved between Vado, Mesquite and now Las Cruces.
“The thought of leaving this state, where I grew up, it doesn’t cross my mind. I don’t want to go to a place where I’ve never been,” she said. “And I feel very desperate that our congressmen and women haven’t decided what is going to happen to us.”
Arciniega she had positive and hopeful feelings during Tuesday's service.
“I felt really blessed. Bishop Cantú said faithful words. I mean, I felt my that faith grew within me. I really felt that God was with me and He was giving me strength to keep moving forward,” Arciniega said.
DACA recipient Cindy Vazquez, 19, came to the U.S. when she was 1. Vazquez and her family originate from Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico, but because of the current political climate, she is scared, along with other emotions, about perhaps being deported.
“I just feel a lot of frustrations," she said. "I am feeling scared, I feel hopeless at times. I feel like I am put inside a football and I am being tossed around. I don’t know what is going to happen to us. It just scares me and it makes me have a lot of doubts.”
Vasquez said the experience gave her chills, knowing that the communities are coming together for her and other young immigrants across the nation.
“I was really emotional.” Vazquez said. “Just to know that we are all here together and we’re going to get through this and we are going to get it done.”
For more information, go to justiceforimmigrants.org.
MANCHESTER — A Catholic parish that advocates for immigration law changes will hold a prayer service Wednesday to celebrate the community’s immigrant history.The article above is accompanied by a photo of the priest, Rev. Thien Nguyen. The reader will note the presence of the usual religious suspects in the following article, as reported by Dave Solomon of the New Hampshire Union Leader, June 19, 2018:
St. Anne-St. Augustin Parish, 382 Beech St., will hold the service in partnership with the New Hampshire Council of Churches, Granite State Organizing Project and the New Hampshire Immigrant Solidarity Network.
The 6:30 p.m. service will feature music from Spanish, Vietnamese, Indonesian, African and English-speaking cultures.
MANCHESTER — Honduran native Oscar Gutierrez, his American-born wife and their two young boys stood in front of the Norris Cotton Federal Building downtown on Tuesday morning in one of the most nerve-racking situations imaginable.
Gutierrez has been a focus of Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities since he was caught fishing without a license at Hampton Beach in May 2017.
He was held in ICE custody at the Strafford County Jail, having entered the country illegally, but was later released after the intervention of Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci.
He regularly reports to immigration officials to apply for a new “stay of removal” to enable him to remain with his family.
As the family nervously waited for their appointment with ICE on Tuesday, Bishop Libasci was there to offer prayers and support, along with dozens of others who make it a point to be at the federal building when immigrants appear to face possible deportation.
The members of the Interfaith Prayer Vigil and Jericho Walk for Immigrant Justice were also there to support 20 Indonesian families from Dover whose cases have garnered widespread attention.
They walked in a circle seven times around the building in a symbolic gesture derived from the book of Joshua: “By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after being marched around by the Israelites for seven days.”
“We’ve come here for the past year every time a person has to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to find out if they are going to be able to stay or not,” said Sarah Jane Knoy, with the Granite State Organization Project. “We’re here to provide them support. It’s a very scary thing.”
The group of about 100 gathers for prayers, songs and readings before and after the walk. As regards the biblical reference, “We don’t really want these walls to fall down because there are people in there,” said Knoy, “but we would like the walls of injustice to fall down.”
Bishop Libasci has closely monitored the fate of the Gutierrez family, well-known parishioners at St. Anne-St. Augustin parish in Manchester.
Libasci didn’t participate in the walk, as he spent most of his time with the Gutierrez family and greeting many supporters as they passed the front of the federal building.
“I haven’t walked because I keep visiting with people and we keep talking,” he said, making sure to point out that the event is not a protest.
“It’s a witness. They made that very clear to me,” he said. “It’s a prayerful witness to accompany people who are coming here frightened and concerned about their status ... to pray for their wellbeing. I think that’s an important thing. It’s not a protest by any stretch.”
Libasci visited Gutierrez during his detention and says the experience demonstrated to him that there is a way for the government to enforce immigration law without tearing families apart.
“The people at the detention center were so good, and I will always say that,” Libasci said. “There was great understanding and great accessibility to talk to Oscar and to see the family reunite. What’s beautiful to see is when it works, families can be held together during the process and then reunited. God forbid anyone gets lost in the shuffle. That’s what I’m concerned about.”
The next Jericho Walk is scheduled for June 27. Gutierrez has to report in again on July 17.
In addition to the Granite State Organization Project, sponsors include the American Friends Service Committee, N.H. Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, N.H. Council of Churches and the United Valley Interfaith Project.