Inside the Capitol: Speak Up for Migrants and People Seeking Second Chances

Archbishop Hebda Testifies in Support of ‘Driver’s Licenses for All’

Archbishop Bernard Hebda spoke to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee expressing the Minnesota Catholic Conference’s (MCC) support for a bill, H.F. 1163 (Winkler), that would allow undocumented immigrants an opportunity to obtain a provisional license after passing a driving exam. The Archbishop’s testimony highlighted how, in the absence of federal comprehensive immigration reform, offering legal access to our roads is one small measure of dignity the State of Minnesota can offer those who simply want to drive to work, school, and church without fear of being separated from their families. He also pointed out the bill’s potential to serve the common good by improving accountability and safety on our roads: “Public safety is promoted by having more licensed drivers on the road, who, studies have shown, are less likely to be involved in fatal accidents and also are more likely to be insured.” Archbishop Hebda concluded his testimony by reframing the bill as an opportunity for all of us to look beyond our political identities, saying, “too often, we let secondary relationships define our identities and how we treat others. We may see ourselves as American citizens, and immigrants as illegals or aliens. How unfortunate if those labels limit the reach of our solidarity.”

MCC Supports Second Chances

In their document, “Restoration, Rehabilitation, and Responsibility” (2000), the U.S. Catholic bishops declared that in matters of criminal justice, “solidarity calls us to insist on responsibility and seek alternatives that do not simply punish, but rehabilitate, heal, and restore.” The bishops encouraged lawmakers to redirect the vast number of public resources away from building more prisons and toward better and more effective programs aimed at crime prevention, rehabilitation, and reintegration.

Locally, MCC has been a perennial sponsor of the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition (MNSCC) and its annual Day on the Hill. The mission of this volunteer-run organization is to advocate for fair and responsible policies and practices that enable persons who have experienced incarceration or other involvement with the criminal justice system to support themselves, support their families, and contribute to their communities upon re-entry to society at large. This year’s Second Chance Day on the Hill focused on building support for a package of bills addressing how juveniles are treated in the criminal justice system from sentencing to expungements.

Action Alert

The Minnesota Legislature is considering a bill that mandates sweeping new statewide comprehensive sexual education (CSE) curriculum to be taught in our state’s public schools. House File 358 (Jordan) would enable schools to invite Planned Parenthood and other “community organizations” that promote harmful ideologies about human sexuality into the classroom to instruct students and/or provide them materials. The bill also specifies that the instructor does not need to be a licensed teacher or even an employee of the school. Go to www.MNCatholic.org/ActionCenter to contact legislators.