toledoblade.com, Apr. 8
Saying that America was founded on Christian principles and that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, leaders of FLOC and nine local religious groups yesterday asked Christians to pray and fast on Good Friday in support of fair immigration reform.
“The laws of society reflect the heart and soul of human beings,” said Baldemar Velasquez, chaplain and president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.
During a news conference yesterday at FLOC’s Old South End headquarters, Mr. Velasquez said labor and church groups across the country are uniting to pray and fast tomorrow in seeking fair and just immigration laws.
Mr. Velasquez said FLOC is teaming with Christian groups for the first time in hopes that their prayers and fasting will “change the hearts and minds of Congress.”
Joining Mr. Velasquez yesterday were the Rev. Richard Notter, of Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church; the Rev. Alberto Martinez, of Good Shepherd Baptist Church; Joyce McCauley, of the Interfaith Justice and Peace Center; Misael Mayorga, of the Toledo diocese’s Hispanic ministry; the Rev. Juan Ozuna, of Iglesia de Dios de la Profesia; the Rev. Moises Rodriguez, an Assemblies of God evangelist; the Rev. Francisco Carrillo, of St. Paul Catholic Church in Norwalk, Ohio; the Rev. Josue Rodriguez, of Iglesia Nueva Vida, and Sister Sharon Havelak, of the Sisters of St. Francis.
Mr. Martinez said the Bible demands fair treatment of aliens, quoting Numbers 15:15: “The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.”
Sister Sharon said the Sisters of St. Francis always fast and pray on Good Friday, but tomorrow they will “feel solidarity with the suffering and hunger” of those who live in fear because of immigration laws.
President Bush has recommended an overhaul of the U.S. immigration system, including granting legal status to the estimated 8 million to 9 million illegal aliens now in the country and offering temporary work visas valid for three to six years.
Mr. Velasquez said FLOC has three main concerns for immigration reform: that work visas are renewable, else they will result in “mass deportations” once they expire; that the visas are portable, allowing workers to travel and to change employers, and that there is a prevailing wage program so that visa workers are not used to displace higher-paid workers.
He said that documenting illegal aliens now in the United States will boost national security, and the U.S. economy would benefit from taxation of the workers once they become legal.