From left, Rafael Hernandez and Maria Elvia Martinez Alvarez and their daughter Janette, Very Rev. James Matthews, rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Light, and Rev. Msgr. Antonio Valdivia.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
With the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. — "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice" — and St. Junipero Serra — "Siempre adelante, nunca atras" ("Always forward, never back," — Rev. Msgr. Antonio Valdivia offered encouragement to immigrants and their champions dismayed by the Supreme Court's 4-4 ruling on immigration announced June 23.
The ruling in the United States v. Texas dealt a blow to those pinning their hopes on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), and an expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
"The Supreme Court is not the final word," Msgr. Valdivia said.
Maria Elvia Martinez Alvarez and Rafael Hernandez, with their American-born daughter Janette, received a blessing from Msgr. Valdivia and the Very Rev. James Matthews, rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Light, in a chapel of the cathedral.
Catholic Charities of the East Bay, which provides low-cost immigration services, estimates the court's action affects 80,000 people living in the East Bay. Some estimates put the number of people affected nationwide at 4 million.
Among them are the parents who stood in front of the cathedral to tell their story.
Martinez Alvarez said she left Mexico because of the dangers there. People coming to the United States, she said, "don't come in to do crime; they want better opportunities for their families."
Active in her children's schools and her San Leandro parish, she said, "I do my best for my community." Her activism includes marshaling forces of mothers to help students who are not performing up to standards to improve their work.
"We're still dealing with a broken immigration system," said Christopher Martinez, chief program director of Catholic Charities of the East Bay, who called the court's action — or inaction — "tremendously disappointing."
The message he is taking to the Catholic Charities clients is "don't lose hope and keep the fight alive."
With the court's rebuff of President Barack Obama's executive order, Martinez said, "It's time for Congress to do something on immigration."
He is also encouraging interested people in lobbying Congress and also to "lobby locally" by attending town hall meetings offered by elected officials.
Religious leaders nationwide were quick to denounce the court's action as a setback for immigrant families and stressed the urgency of comprehensive immigration reform.
Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio L. Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Migration, said the court's decision was a "huge disappointment" and a setback, but he said the focus now needs to be on how to fix the current immigration system.
"We must not lose hope that reform is possible," he said.
Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, called the court's decision "a sad ruling" and said the president's immigration plan had been "the result of years of painstaking work and committed efforts by migrant advocates, grass-roots organizations, some legislators and the faith community."
The bishop was joined in the statement by Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, and the Hope Border Institute, a community organization on the U.S.-Mexico border. The statement also said the court's decision exposes how the current immigration policy in the U.S. "criminalizes and scapegoats immigrants who fight for a better life for their children and families that contribute every day to our economy and communities."
For Martinez and his co-workers at Catholic Charities of the East Bay, "our work is going to intensify," he said.
Those seeking additional information about immigration services may call Catholic Charities: 510-768-3100 for the Oakland office; 510-234-5110 in Richmond; 925-825-3099 in Concord; and 510-782-9675 in Hayward.
(Catholic News Service contributed to this report.)
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