The Valley Catholic August 20, 2019 - Page 13

tvc.dsj.org | August 20, 2019 IN THE CHURCH 13 Gratitude To All Farmworkers Without Exceptions By Hosffman Ospino Catholic News Service We all like our fresh salads, vegeta- bles and fruits. If we eat meat, we want the best quality. However, these do not grow or raise themselves. They come to us thanks to the hard and dedicated work of farm laborers. In the United States there are about 3 million farmworkers. The vast majority, about 80%, are Hispanic. Mindful of the strong Catholic roots among Hispanics, more than half of farmworkers in the U.S. could be Roman Catholic. We need better statistics about this. Nearly half of all farmworkers in our country live in ir- regular migratory status, most in this group for 10 years or longer. Farm laborers are likely to live in poverty. On average, a farmworker in the U.S. makes $10.60 per hour - or $22,048 yearly, assuming steady employment. Besides the arduous physical work, there are significant risks associated with laboring in the agricultural world: bodily injuries, exposure to pesticides and other chemicals, poor access to health care, low educational opportu- nities, etc. Without a doubt, those involved in agricultural work perform a labor of love and sacrifice that deserves more appreciation. When ordering our salads or prepar- ing meals for our children, perhaps our last concern is the ethnicity, immigra- tion status or religious affiliation of the farmworkers who literally make food possible for us every day. Yet, knowing this is important. We cannot ignore that farmworkers are flesh-and-blood women and men, with families, with dreams, who with their labor are committed to making this a strong society. It is ironic that political and legal decisions that sometimes have negative effects upon millions of farmworkers and their families are made by leaders who later sit down to celebrate their feats with friends and relatives, eating what those same farmworkers culti- vated or raised. That includes policies that lead to the reduction of social benefits for those at the very bottom of our social scale or massive deportations of undocu- mented immigrants. Many Catholic dioceses, parishes, and organizations strive to serve the spiritual and physical needs of farm- workers, yet the resources allocated to this ministry are often scant. Farm- workers are practically everywhere, and in many places ministry to this population is not a priority.   Our ministries remain too central- ized in churches and offices, thus proving practically inadequate for a farm-working population with high Those on Path to Legal Immigration Face Roadblock on Public Funds WA SH I NGTON (C NS) - - Th e Trump administration announced Aug. 12 a plan to deny permanent le- gal immigration status for those who use public funds such as food stamps or public housing. The news came as no surprise, as administration offi- cials had been publicly discussing for months instituting a “public charge” policy that would hurt immigrants’ chances at permanent residency and cit izenship and even t hreatened deportation for those who sign up for public benefits. The National Im- migration Law Center said the term “public charge” in immigration law refers to “a person who is primarily dependent on the government for support,” and explained the new rule “would broaden the definition of who is to be considered a public charge so that it includes immigrants who use one or more government programs listed in the proposed rule.” Though immigrants have had to prove self- sufficiency to obtain permanent resi- dency, the expansion of the definition would add a hurdle for some. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had long argued against it and in September 2018 said such ac- tion would “prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare.” The new policy is set to take ef- fect in 60 days, but it will likely be challenged in court. “Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ide- als of self-sufficiency and personal responsibilit y, ensuring that im- migrants are able to support them- selves and become successful here in America,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Im- migration Services, during a White House briefing Aug. 12. rates of mobility, poverty and other forms of social vulnerability. This is an invitation on Labor Day and the weeks surrounding this holi- day to pay more attention to our social and ecclesial interconnectedness with farmworkers and to bring the best of our advocacy skills to ensure that they can go about their lives with dignity. Honoring the work of those engaged in agricultural work is an invitation to reflect on the quasi-eucharistic dimen- sion of their activity. Let us remember that at the core of the term Eucharist is an action of thanksgiving. Farmworkers teach us with their labor that sacrifice and gratitude go hand in hand to give life. They remind us of the fruitfulness of the earth. From them we learn our responsibility to care for the created order, which makes it possible that we can eat and sustain our families. At Mass we say, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.” What a great opportunity to remember the work of farm laborers as a daily offer- ing to God! Catholic Peace Advocates Commemorate Hiroshima, Nagasaki Anniversaries WASHINGTON (CNS) -- About 40 peace advocates representing about a dozen religious communities held a special Hiroshima and Nagasaki Com- memoration Prayer Service of Repen- tance midday Aug. 9 outside the White House. It was the 74th anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, killing about 74,000 people. Three days earlier, the group held a similar observance at the Penta- gon to mark the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing by the U.S. of Hiroshima, killing more than 100,000 people. It was the first atomic bomb used in warfare. Japan surrendered Aug. 15. Organizers of the commemoration said the two non- violent acts of public witness called on the U.S. government to repent for the bombings of Japan and urged the abolition of all nuclear weapons in the U.S. and worldwide. Anniversary events were held Aug. 6-9 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as at nuclear weapons facilities throughout the U.S. In Washington, the group heard tes- timony from Michiko Kodama, who at age 7, experienced the Hiroshima atomic bombing. At 82, she is now the assistant secretary-general of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Suf- ferers Organizations.