Immigration battle hits home to Philadelphia clergy

Immigration legislation is under review in Washington and some local clergy went to Sen. Pat Toomey’s Philadelphia office to deliver postcards in support of the bill.

Carrying an envelope stuffed with postcards in English and Spanish was Fr. Tom Higgins, the Pastor of Holy Innocents Church in Philadelphia’s Juniata Park neighborhood. His congregation includes people from 20 different countries. He says keeping illegal immigrants from citizenship makes them scared.

“I see good people who are trying to raise their families in such a positive way, they are working hard and they are just trying to live a good life,” said Higgins.

Higgins says the immigrants just want to be a full member of society. Deacon Jorge Vera says immigrants who don’t have papers live under constant fear.

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“Deportation, family suffering without the necessities of urgent care, it’s the destruction of families watching you back every time you want to do something or work,” said Vega.

The clergy are hoping Sen. Toomey will take their concerns to heart as he makes a decision on the bill. Providing a “path to citizenship” instead of forcing immigrants to return to their home countries has been a controversial sticking point. Members in the house have called such a plan “dead on arrival.”

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