Sunday May 27, 2018
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Dear Friends:

Thank you to all who were able to participate in this prayer vigil at St. Joseph Parish in Yakima July 22 for a just, lasting and comprehensive immigration reform. While I am not with you physically, I am with you spiritually.  I am actually praying with you as I fly across the country. My weekends with not only meetings at the United States Catholic Conference -- but also with meetings of our elected officials in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate on the very topic of immigration reform.

I also want you to know that very shortly the Catholic bishops of Washington State will be issuing a pastoral letter on the topic of education reform which will be distributed in Spanish and English across the Diocese of Yakima as an educational tool.

Further, Saturday August 24th, Catholic Charities, the Diocese of Yakima and Heritage University are hosting an immigration forum bringing together of broad cross section of community organizations across Central Washington in support of immigration reform. In my first two years as bishop, I have been graced to have contact with union leaders, community organizers, law enforcement, growers, packers, ranchers, and farm workers as well as those involved in the health care professions. I have also had regular contact with government leaders from both political parties. There is a general and broad consensus in favor of an immigration reform and a good understanding of the need to create pathways for full citizenship for the many undocumented in our midst.

Leading up to this Saturday evening, this broad cross section of stakeholders will be invited to sign onto five overarching principles first developed by the bishops of Mexico and the United States. We offer these guiding principles for our immigration reform to people of every faith and of no faith at all. They are:

First Principle: Persons have a right to find economic opportunities in their homeland.

Second Principle: Persons have a right to migrate when necessary to support themselves and their families.

Third Principle: Sovereign nations have a right to control and protect their borders.

Fourth Principle: Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection.

Fifth Principle: The undocumented should have their human dignity respected and their human rights upheld.

Like the pastoral letter of the Catholic bishops in Washington State, these five principles will be offered as an assistance to help forward the conversation in which we all need to participate if we are to see a lasting, just and comprehensive immigration reform here in the United States.

Wisely you are beginning this conversation with prayer -- allowing yourselves to converse with God -- and even more important -- allowing God to converse with you in the silence of our hearts. 

It is my firm conviction that if we are truly to become a people who can converse with others on the most difficult issues like immigration, we must first be shaped by our conversation with God's Word in Sacred Scripture and God's law of love articulate in our Church teachings. These are the very tools that lead to an excellence in conversing with those around -- especially those who may disagree with us.

So let us enter with a conviction that an honest conversation about immigration reform begins with our opening our hearts in conversation with God in prayer, through Word and Sacrament, supporting each other.

I thank your pastor Father Pulido for his great pastoral leadership and sensitive understanding that the best preparation for any conversation is conversation with God in prayer. I thank each of you for being present to each other and for working together allowing your daily conversations to be shaped and strengthened by your conversation with God.

With every best wish and blessing,

Yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson
Bishop of Yakima