Cardinal urges immigration supporters to avoid May 1 boycott
By CHRISTINA ALMEIDA, Associated Press Writer
Published 4:05 pm PDT Monday, April 17, 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Cardinal Roger Mahony, a vocal leader of the marches against congressional attempts to crackdown on illegal immigration, does not support a planned student and worker boycott on May 1.
"Go to work. Go to school. And then join thousands of us at a major rally afterwards," Mahony said in a prepared statement.
The boycott would follow massive protests staged across the nation in recent weeks to demand reforms that help illegal immigrants stay in the country.
Immigrant students, workers and supporters are being asked to stay home as part of the boycott billed by some as "a day without an immigrant."
Many of the recent rallies have been backed by the church, organized labor and immigrant rights groups.
Some demonstrations focused on HR 4437, a House bill passed in December that would build more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, criminalize helping undocumented immigrants and make it a felony, rather than a civil infraction, to be in the country illegally.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill removing many of the punitive House provisions and adding a way for illegal immigrants to work toward U.S. citizenship. The full Senate has yet to vote on the bill.
Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican-American Political Association, a leading organizer of the boycott, said he respected Mahony's opinion but it would not alter the plans.
"We applaud his steadfast opposition to HR 4437, and we expect to continue working together to defeat that legislation," Lopez said.
In his statement on Sunday, Mahony acknowledged the differences of opinion on the best way to rally support for immigrants. He also noted that May 1 celebrates the patron saint of workers.
"I would recommend that our Catholic parishes, schools and other entities devote time on May 1 to help our employees and students appreciate the dignity of work, the value of education and the important role immigrants play," said Mahony, who leads the nation's largest archdiocese.
Tod M. Tamberg, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said Mahony believes "participation is more effective than non-participation."
"Boycotts rarely solve the problem," Tamberg said.
The cardinal also urged employers to consider setting aside time during the day for workers to discuss immigration reform and share personal stories.
Parents should also discuss the issue at home and "persuade your students to go to school on May 1, and to remain there throughout the school day," he said.