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Beyond Walls of Fear: Catholic Worker Movement Turns to Resistance to Unjust Immigration Policies and Practices

Dorothy Day
by Angel Valdez

The Catholic Worker movement, centered in Christ and the Gospels and Catholic social teaching, was founded during the 1930s when the economic crisis made life difficult, if not unbearable, for many. The movement has continued to respond to changing situations in the United States and the world over the years, including leading protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. As Jim Forest notes in his article in this issue, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin and many who followed them protested injustice and responded with the works of mercy as opposed to the works of war and with hospitality in different times and situations.

Catholic Workers in many cities are now standing shoulder to shoulder with the U. S. Bishops and the Holy Father in protesting mistreatment of immigrants and in seeking a more just immigration policy in the United States. Two major CW gatherings this year have highlighted the growing the concern among Catholic Workers in many cities regarding the plight of immigrants. For the first time the theme of the entire Mid-West gathering, held in Kansas City in April was ” Beyond Walls of Fear: Faith Resistance to Unjust Immigration Policies and Practices.” The Southwest CW gathering in July of this year featured speakers and panels and action addressing the present immigration crisis address the following questions:

“What is the role of Catholic Worker-style faith and resistance as…. our immigrant neighbors are living in intensified fear and a climate of hate?
“What is the role of Catholic Worker-style faith and resistance as…. the Homeland Security state is taking away more rights & liberties of ALL?

“What is the role of Catholic Worker-style faith and resistance as our migrant brothers & sisters are dying daily to feed their families?
“How will CW ideals inform our action, living & working with immigrants?”

We hope the radical young CW’s won’t be offended by being in the same camp with the Pope, whose voice rang out strongly and clearly during his recent trip to the United States, encouraging those defending and giving practical help to immigrants.

M.L.Z., L.Y.Z.

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXVII, No. 4, July-August 2008.