By Kelly Kidwell Hughes, Advocacy Intern
As migrant children arrived at our southern border, CLINIC, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Catholic Charities USA, sponsors of the 2014 National Migration Conference, brought 400 people to Capitol Hill on July 10 to advocate on behalf of immigrants. Advocacy Day participants met with senators and representatives to share their experiences and call for just immigration policies. The day included 256 scheduled meetings with members of Congress from 40 states. Some participants also had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress in leadership positions, such as House Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Becerra, Rep. Conyers, Rep. Gowdy, and Sen. Franken.
Advocates discussed comprehensive immigration reform, human trafficking, and the needs of refugees. They also addressed the plight of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America. Advocates urged a compassionate response in line with Catholic teaching, to include:
- Robust funding of services for migrant children and their families
- Addressing the root causes of migration, including poverty and violence
- Fair immigration proceedings that allow children the opportunity to make their claims heard, and
- Placement of families and children in community settings rather than detention.
Participants said the meetings gave them the opportunity to share their views and learn more about the political process.
“It was nice to see part of how [U.S. politics] works and be able to participate in it,” said Clayton Boeyink, who works with Catholic Charities in Des Moines. “We were well-received and had good conversations. I was able to get across what I was hoping to say.”
Advocates also had the opportunity to network with other faith-based service providers. Boeyink appreciated the knowledge, skill, and passion of the other advocates.
During the afternoon, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing on President Obama’s emergency request for additional funding to address the growing number of children arriving at the border. Many Advocacy Day participants attended the hearing and saw senators in action. Click here for a webcast of the hearing.
If you would like more information on Advocacy Day, contact Allison Posner at 301-565-4831.