2012 Immigration Sunday Homily Reflection Notes

Nations shall walk by your light. Isaiah 60:3

Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Ephesians 3:6

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Matthew 2:10-11

The readings for Statewide Immigration Sunday convey a strong message about the dignity of the human person and the unity of the human family.  All human beings – regardless of their nationality, race, creed, or status – are “coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus.”  As Christians, we are called to treat others as sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit.

Reforming our nation’s immigration system is a matter of fundamental justice. Current immigration laws and policies do not adequately uphold the human dignity and rights of immigrants. Many immigrants live in fear, in the shadows of our communities. Too often, immigrant families are broken or kept apart by our laws and public policies.

While Catholic social teaching recognizes a nation’s right to control and protect its borders, and does not condone unlawful entry or circumvention of immigration laws, it also upholds the right to emigrate for just reasons. Terrible suffering, poverty and violence often impel people to flee their homelands and to seek elsewhere a better life for themselves and their families.

Of the estimated 40 million foreign-born residents in the US[1], some are naturalized citizens, some are moving along the path to citizenship, and some are students. Most are here for employment reasons. Whatever their legal status, the vast majority of our immigrant brothers and sisters are here seeking work to support themselves and their families.

As members of Christ’s Body we are called to advocate for immigration policies and enforcement practices that are humane, just, and serve the common good. Reform should include expanded opportunities to reunify families, a temporary worker program, and an earned legalization program for undocumented immigrants.

If we truly believe that “the Church is the sacrament of the unity of the human race,” let us work together to achieve justice for our immigrant brothers and sisters.

Minnesota Immigrant Facts

  • The foreign-born share of Minnesota’s population rose from 2.6% in 1990, to 5.3% in 2000, to 7.1% in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Minnesota was home to 378,483 immigrants in 2010, which is more than the total population of New Orleans, Louisiana[2].
  • The current foreign-born populations in Minnesota are growing in number and diversity. However, only 6.3% of Minnesota’s population is foreign-born, which is less than half the national average[2].
  • Today’s immigrants leave their homes for the same reasons that many of Minnesota’s early immigrants did—persecution, oppression, family separation, poverty, drought, globalization, and increased population.  Today’s immigrants also come to Minnesota for the same reasons that many of Minnesota’s early immigrants did—family reunification, higher wages, jobs, availability of land, and social equality.
  • Minnesota is home to the nation’s largest Somali population.  Approximately 25,000 Somalis call Minnesota home[2].  Minnesota is also home to the nation’s largest Oromo population, an ethnic group from Ethiopia.  7,500 Ethiopians live in Minnesota[2].
  • The Twin Cities area is host to the largest Hmong community in the world outside of Asia[2].  An estimated 60,000 Hmong live in Minnesota[3]. Minnesota also has the second largest group of Tibetans in the U.S., and a concentration of West African refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone[2].
  • The first Latinos came to Minnesota in 1860.  The majority of Minnesota Latinos trace their ancestry to Mexico; others to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other Central and South American countries. The majority of Minnesota Latinos are not immigrants—60% are native-born U.S. citizens.
  • 41% of students come from a home where one of 103 languages or dialects is spoken[2].
  • In 1896, Minnesota’s election instructions were printed in nine languages—Czech, English, Finnish, French German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish and Swedish.  Today, Minnesota’s election instructions are printed in six languages—English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.
  • In any given year, 25-50% of Minnesota’s immigrants are refugees; nationally, in any given year, 8% of immigrants are refugees.



[1] http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/strength-diversity-economic-and-political-power-immigrants-latinos-and-asians
[2] More statistics and data on the immigration population in Minnesota and federally can be found at http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/new-americans-minnesota
[3] More statistics and data on the immigration population in Minnesota and federally can be found at http://www.energyofanation.org/sites/25e1f498-741c-478a-8a08-aa486d8533a5/uploads/immigration_in_minnesota.pdf

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