Fr. Thomas Smolich
Fr. Thomas Smolich
In letters to President Obama and Congress, the nine regional leaders of the Society of Jesus in the United States are calling for comprehensive and humane immigration reform. One of the signers is Father Pat Lee, provincial of the Portland-based Oregon Province of Jesuits.

More than 200 Jesuit communities, affiliated organizations, parishes and institutions are lending their support to the appeal by the nine provincials. Jesuits are well known for their schools and colleges in the U.S.

The letters to Congress and the president urge that any proposed immigration reform include a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants as well as a legal employment structure protecting both migrants and U.S. workers, expedited family reunification and an end to policies that exacerbate family separation. The letters are in accord with positions voiced by the U.S. Catholic bishops.

“The immigration debate provokes emotion on both sides of the aisle and we hope that our elected officials can rise above partisan politics,” said Jesuit Father Thomas Smolich, president of the Jesuit Conference. “Because of our commitment to educating the children of migrants in our schools, serving migrant communities in our parishes and offering men, women and children food and shelter on the border, we see firsthand the costs of current immigration laws. We’ve been calling for reform for many years, and we’ve never been closer. We pray that Congress considers the future of 11 million people hanging in the balance.”

The letter is the most recent action by the Jesuits supporting immigration reform. Earlier this year, the Jesuit Conference, the Kino Border Initiative and Jesuit Refugee Service/USA released a new study, “Documented Failures: The Consequences of Immigration Policy on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” highlighting excessive use of force by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the Kino Border Initiative, testified at a congressional hearing on the report in April.