After National Catholic Call-in Day & Catholic Day of Action, Brooklyn Faith Leaders Host Prayer Vigil for a Clean Dream Act

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BROOKLYN, NY—The Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), a congregation of Sunset Park with services in 4 languages and of the Brooklyn Diocese, partnered with Faith in New York, a member of the PICO National Network and a multi-faith federation of congregations and faith-based groups in the City of New York, in lifting up the demands for a Clean Dream Act to support dreamer-immigrants without conditions funding more detention or deportation. The prayer vigil continued a growing chorus of voices from across the country, including the National Catholic Call-in Day on Monday, February 26th (#sharejourney) and the National Catholic Day of Action on Tuesday, February 27th (#Catholics4Dreamers).

The National Catholic Call-in Day was announced by the President of the US Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, and urged all Catholics across the country to call their elected officials on the same day this week in the hopes that they will support community members through a Dream Act.

The National Catholic Day of Action on Tuesday was convened in Washington, DC by faith-based organizations including the PICO National Network and involved meetings with members of Congress, a march, and peaceful civil disobedience with 40 Catholic faith leaders arrested in the US Capital.

The prayer vigil event in Brooklyn included songs, scripture readings, prayers, witness talks from clergy and community members, as well as announcements about next step action options. Parts of the event were shared in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, predominant languages of the Sunset Park, Brooklyn neighborhood.

Among the Christian scriptures recited in the 3 languages of the event, faith leaders of the OLPH congregation read Deuteronomy 10:19, “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Another that was shared was Hebrews 13:1-2, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” The third Holy Text shared was from Matthew 25:40 & 45, “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, [a]  you did it to me.’…  Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”

“Unless we are indigenous to this land, we are the sons and daughters of  immigrants who dreamed and migrated, refugees who dreamed and sought asylum,  or persons forced into labor in chains and dreamed for freedom. Our sacred texts declare that we were once strangers in a foreign land… May the source of all life transform this moment that moves us closer to giving life to dreams of freedom and justice,” said Carmen Dixon quoting Pastor Brian Ellis-Gibbs, Interim Executive Director of Faith in New York.

Father James Gilmour, pastor of the Basilica of OLPH, said, “the only permanent solution for the 1.8 million dreamers would be legislation, and that’s why we are here tonight. We are here to pray so that the legislation can happen and support dreamers. Our prayer tonight is that there be a Clean Dream Act, which means that there be a dream act without any strings attached; a law that protects from deportation and opens up a path to citizenship.”

“I’m here today to represent the 800,000 dreamers with DACA, but more importantly I am here to give voice to the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States. If we are going to seek justice we need to seek justice for everybody. I am here to fight for the farmworkers like my grandfather who came here 30 years ago to work in the orange groves of Florida. I am here to fight for the childcare workers like my mother who take care of other people’s children so that I have the ability to attend college,” said a life-long community member of Sunset Park and dreamer-immigrant.

“The great strength of our country has always been in our people – E pluribus unum. The United States is and has always been for many a nation of immigrants, made strong by our very diversity. As we have allowed our immigration system to fail catastrophically, we find ourselves at a moment when people of faith must act to protect the DREAMers, and to resist shortsighted and knee-jerk nationalistic policies that will harm us morally, economically, and in terms of our nation security. We need a clean DREAM Act,” said Cadell Hornbuckle who quoted her pastor Rev. Audette Fulbright Fulson of the Unitarian Church of All Souls NYC, a member congregation of Faith in New York.

Reading from an editorial written in the Daily News by Bishop DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn on February 2, 2018, faith leaders of the community took courage from his supportive stance. “If the Dreamers are left unprotected, it will leave a stain on our nation’s character for years to come.  If we pursue justice and welcome them as full Americans, it would be one of our finest hours… If these young people are forced to live under the constant fear of deportation and not given a secure path to citizenship, it would severely weaken the values — fairness, opportunity and freedom — that have made our nation great.,”

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