TMO responds to bi-partisan senate immigration bill

May 14, 2013

HOUSTON — Gaby Nieto from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church told her story to a group of local reporters and members of the Houston community on Tuesday, April 23, when she joined Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and other community leaders in the name of immigration reform.

The group included Rabbi David Lyon with the Congregation Beth Israel, Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of United Methodist Church, Bishop Rufus Kyles of Church of God and Christ Texas Southeast Ecclesial Jurisdiction #1, Reverend John Ogletree of First Metropolitan Church and Reverend Ken Tichter of First Congregational United Church of Christ. 

Business leaders, including Stan Marek, president and chief executive officer of one of the largest construction companies in the southwest and member of the Greater Houston Partnership Board, were also in attendance.

They are part of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) coalition calling for an immigration reform policy that upholds family unity, respects due process and human rights, and would be practical and workable for long-term economic prosperity and security for all U.S. citizens, residents and workers. 

“Without Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, all the sleepless nights, the sacrifices, and the hardships I have endured may have all been in vain,” Nieto said to the group. “Thanks to TMO, Catholic Charities and an attorney with FosterQuan, I was able to apply for and receive my work permit. Today my burden is less heavy and my dreams of serving my community as an educator are quickly becoming a reality.”

Nieto said growing up in the United States has been a huge blessing. However, there are difficulties and trials growing up in this country without a legal status.

“Being raised in a one-income household with three siblings made it very difficult to make ends meet,” she said. 

“My father has always been a hard worker and I know he has transferred that gene straight on to me, because even when I was at a dead end, ready to give up on my studies due to my inability to pay my tuition and books, I found a way to fight through that barrier. Never relying on others, or focusing on the burden of being undocumented, helped me arrive at the place I am now, only a semester away from earning my Bachelors degree in education and obtaining my teaching certification,” she said.

Rabbi Lyon applauded the “Gang of Eight” senators and their staffs for working tirelessly to create the bi-partisan proposal, the “Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.” 

“In 2008, we developed a set of principles that call for upholding family unity, respecting due process and human rights and legislation that would be practical and workable for long-term economic prosperity and security for all U.S. citizens, residents and workers,” he said. “We will review and measure this proposal and any amendments to it, in accordance with these shared faith principals.” 

Cardinal DiNardo added, “But more importantly for us, as people of faith, we see in the faces and hear in the voices of the immigrants in our midst, the image of God. The dignity inherent in us all is clouded, diminished, every time one of God’s own suffers from poverty and want, from oppression of any kind.”

He said that TMO will pray for, and commit to continue to act toward, a comprehensive immigration policy that recognizes human dignity and protects families, provides an avenue for the undocumented to come out of the shadows, punishes those who exploit the immigrant and secures our borders from those who would do us harm. 

“As representatives from many and varied faith communities, we come here today, as one voice expressing our renewed commitment to continue the efforts to support humane and common-sense reform of our nation’s immigration policy,” Cardinal DiNardo said. 

He reminded those gathered that “every day, in parishes, congregations, synagogues and mosques, through our charitable and outreach ministries, we witness the pain, fear and heartache of people who have come to us, who have to live among us in the shadows of society.” 

He pointed out that the traditions of our faiths, as well as the history of this nation, were formed upon the sacrifice of people who have escaped from a life of struggle in their homeland to come to a place of freedom, security and opportunity. 

He closed out his statement by saying, “We are here today because as faith communities, we can make a difference. We ask members of our congregation to continue the conversation, to speak and write to their state senators and the entire congressional delegation. Please ask them for a speedy, humane and just resolution to our immigration policy, one that recognizes human dignity and protects the family.” 

Bishop Huie said that “as greater Houston area denominational leaders, we have been working to form the conscience of our clergy and congregations around this critical issue. The perception is that immigrants do not pay taxes when in fact undocumented workers pay taxes and to a much greater degree than what they consume in our state, with an estimated $400 million surplus.”

She said the fact is undocumented immigrants contribute more than $17 billion to our state’s economy. 

“In Texas, taking undocumented workers out of Texas economy would result in loss of $220 billion to economy and 1.1 million jobs.”