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Priests, ministers in Houston seek support for immigration reforms

Deliver sermons on Independence Day for overhauling broken immigration system

6th July 2010: “These immigrants, we immigrants, have built the greatest nation in the world, coming from everywhere, all over, because, you see, nobody owns this world except God,” is how Rev. John W. Bowie encourages Houston’s clergy to unite and support immigration reforms that enable the “undocumented come out of the shadows.”

And he is not the only one. All over Houston, pastors, priests, rabbis and ministers used delivered sermons on Independence Day to support the cause of putting in place a kaput immigration system.

The well synchronized endeavor was part of a “broad-based” movement launched in January by interfaith group Metropolitan Organization to press the case before the Congress to pass an immigration overhaul package this year.

So far, the organisation has collected 12,000 signatures to be forwarded to lawmakers. Workshops have also been organised to persuade churchgoers to support their effort.

As a part of the campaign, the head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, on June 22, made a fervent appeal in a letter to the priests in all 150 parishes to concentrate on the question in their sermons.

Subsequently, the leaders of the Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran Churches made similar requests of their ministers. Some Jewish leaders also joined the campaign.

Rev. John W. Bowie knew it was tough to convince the people around to support the changing immigration laws for paving the way to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The reason for this was not hard to analyze. Rev. John W. Bowie’s True Light Missionary Baptist Church is located in one of the oldest black settlements in the city. The joblessness is high and a substantial people consider immigrants as challengers for jobs.

But accompanied by full choir on 4th July, Rev. John W. Bowie urged the people to come out and prop up the revamping of immigration laws that let the illegal immigrants come out in the open.

He said all 13 colonies were made up of illegal aliens because they had not gotten permission from the residents here, who were the Indians. Then a few years later, they brought us here and made us illegal, too. These immigrants, we immigrants, have built the greatest nation in the world, coming from everywhere, all over, because, you see, nobody owns this world except God.

Rev. John W. Bowie and many clergy members know they face a tough task as some people tend to be conservative in their approach on social issues. For them, immigrants without visas are lawbreakers.

But Rev. John W. Bowie is hopeful. He says it will take months to build up grass-roots support for immigration refurbishment; and a single sermon would not counter anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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