Kansas City, Mo. – With the most significant immigration reform bill in a generation expected to draw a vote in the Senate later next week, Kansas City families and clergy are expanding their prayer vigil at local churches.
Since May, women from six Catholic parishes in Kansas City have been gathering daily at Sacred Heart – Guadalupe Church in Kansas City, Missouri, praying that Kansas and Missouri Senators would be inspired to vote to keep families together. More than 200 people have participated, and as the vote draws near, those numbers are only increasing.
“This vote will determine the future of millions of families,” said said Fr. Jeff Stephan of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Belton, Missouri. “We pray that our leaders will have the wisdom and compassion to know that delay will tear children from parents and leave more families living in fear. It is time to fix this broken system.”
Communities Creating Opportunity has been working to provide a pathway to citizienship for millions of aspiring Americans since 2006, but in recent months those efforts have built to a crescendo, with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) emerging as a key swing vote. On May 1st, hundreds gathered in rally and prayer at Jesucristo el Buen Pastor Church in the Northeast to launch the Campaign for Citizenship. On May 11th, nearly 100 Kansas Citians marched eight miles through Kansas City neighborhoods, demonstrating in favor of citizenship reform. Last week more than 100 parents and children gathered at Sen. Moran’s Olathe office and sang and prayed, hoisting community art made to reflect the stories of families who would be impacted by a pathway to citizenship. For organizers, the vote cannot come soon enough.
“My dad was arrested and deported while driving my mother to the hospital to deliver my baby brother,” said Israel L, a 12-year-old member of an undocumented family from a local Catholic parish who shared his story with the crowd outside of Senator Moran’s office. “She got sick while waiting for an ambulance, and my brother didn’t make it. My dad couldn’t be with us for the funeral, and he is in Mexico now wishing he was with us. Unless there is immigration reform, we will never be together and be a family again.”
The rally and vigil are part of the national Campaign for Citizenship, led by grassroots faith leaders, clergy, and immigrant families, seeking to bring the voices of people of faith together with DREAMers to witness and work for citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
“We are heartened that Senator Moran voted to begin floor debate on the roadmap to citizenship for immigrant American families who have suffered under current law,” said Rev. Stevie Wakes, a pastor at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Kansas City, KS. “As the Senator considers his support for this bill, we are hopeful that he will hear the prayers and the stories of our faith communities here in the Kansas City metro and join in public support for the unification of families and a pathway to citizenship.”