Photo: Charlotte Observer
More than 300 Catholic nuns of the Sisters of Mercy, who met Friday in North Carolina for their annual assembly, made time to place phone calls to federal lawmakers and urge them to pass the DREAM Act.
“These are our brothers and sisters,” Sister Rose Marie Tresp, director of justice for the South Central Community of the Sisters of Mercy, said of undocumented immigrants to the nuns of her order. “So take your cell phones and let your legislators know you are voters, and that you support this bill.”
The group that met Friday in Concord is made up of 630 nuns from 18 states as well as Guam and Jamaica.
The Sisters of Mercy comprises 10,000 nuns worldwide.
The “Dial a Dream” project is part of a strategy to put pressure on federal lawmakers to pass the DREAM Act that has been stymied in Congress for 11 years and would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants.
It is estimated that more than 1.4 million students without papers in the country would benefit from the DREAM Act.
“Though we’re pleased by the president’s announcement of immigration relief for young people, which sparked enthusiasm in the community and provided some hope, we must keep up the struggle for a permanent solution,” Sister Rosemary Welsh, director of the Casa de Misericordia refuge for women and children in the border city of Laredo, Texas, told Efe.
Welsh and Sister Maria Luisa Vera spoke of how essential it is to keep families together that are made up of members of mixed immigration status, with some of them citizens, others permanent residents and still others undocumented.
“We have known the influence we can have thanks to our reputation. In Laredo we have stopped people’s deportations with phone calls and we have even rounded up medical care for the undocumented,” Welsh said.
According to Sister Maria Elena Gonzalez from San Antonio, the future of the Hispanic community is in the education of its young people.
“What we do today with our phone calls is helping the cause because our young people are so important, and though there is hope in the community, there are still many immigrants who have a struggle on their hands,” Gonzalez told Efe.
For “dreamers” like Cyntia Martinez of the NC DREAM Team, the phone bank mounted by the sisters today “proves with deeds” the support they are giving to the battle being fought by undocumented students to make their dreams of higher education come true.
“They’ve helped us a lot today with their calls. Many of our allies say they support us but they don’t do anything concrete. This is what our movement needs,” said another dreamer, Estephania Mijangos, whose higher education begins at Belmont Abbey College later this year.