New immigration office a blessing to community

MOUNT PLEASANT—Immigration is a key social issue for Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone. He has written letters, delivered homilies and spoken to legislators on the topic.

Emily Guerrero, immigration services supervisor for the diocese, said the bishop and Catholic Charities are staunch supporters of the program and are helping it move forward.

Recently, Bishop Guglielmone joined Guerrero, Caroline Weisberg, diocesan director of social ministry, and others to bless the new office in Mount Pleasant. Guerrero said the
larger space will help them serve more people in need.

“We’ve always had a huge demand for services and we’ve never been able to meet the needs,” she said, adding that only a handful of agencies provide affordable legal services to immigrants.

Her office books appointments in three-month blocks and is full within the first week, Guerrero said. With more space and another attorney, she hopes to serve an additional 32 families. Catholic Charities also has immigration offices in Greenville and Hilton Head, with plans to open one in Myrtle Beach in the next year.

The legal guidance her office supplies involves helping men and women find a better life; one free of abuse, persecution and starvation.

Guerrero said the United States needs common sense immigration reform and encourages people to become involved at the community level, such as the recently formed Open Arms Project in Greenville.

Currently, several bills on immigration reform await action by the U.S. House of Representatives. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., indicated in a memo that a vote on the bills could come this fall, although at least five issues come before it on the agenda, including Obamacare and Syria, according to reports in The International Business Times.

Bishop Guglielmone said Congress should follow the example of the Church’s papal conclave and lock themselves in a room until they reach a decision on important issues.

“We have intelligent people who can’t seem to solve a problem that is solvable,” he said. “Why we can’t do this makes no sense, except that other agendas are more of a priority.”

The bishop has some suggestions on reform:

1. Secure the border
2. Provide reasonable, enforceable work visas
3. Streamline the process for legal entry
4. Deport the criminals

And yes, it can be that simple through compromise and focusing on the good of the nation, Bishop Guglielmone said.

He urges everyone to be compassionate and understand that the people entering the country illegally do so out of desperation. He points out the problems foreign priests have entering the country, and said it can take 10 years or longer to receive permission.

“People don’t understand how hard it is to come here legally. The process must be fixed,” the bishop said.

IN THE NEXT ISSUE: How immigration impacts families.

Read more about Catholics like you by subscribing to The Catholic Miscellany