Sacred Heart parishioners and members of the Center’s Latino Leadership Institute having been busy advocating for immigrant rights during the 2017 Session of the Virginia Legislature, January 11 through February 9.
In collaboration with organizers from The New Virginia Majority, these men and women have met regularly to discuss the situation of undocumented residents who are stopped for traffic violations and cannot produce a valid Virginia driver’s license. Yet they need to drive, to work, to shop, to transport their children, to visit and to exercise their right to worship. Efficient public transportation is next to non-existent in Virginia. Presently twelve States and the District of Columbia offer some form of driving permit to their undocumented residents.
Fr. Jack Podsiadlo, SJ, (second from right) visits the Virginia Legislature with immigrant parishioners from Sacred Heart Church in Richmond. They are pictured here with Delegate Kenneth R. Plum.
This is the second year that Sacred Heart folks have visited legislators, shared their personal stories, packed committee chambers and spoke in favor of pending legislation. Again this year the Senate bill was killed in committee and the House bill, requesting a “driver privilege card” was tabled even after a detailed study by the VA Department of Motor Vehicles spoke in favor.
Disappointed but not defeated, Sacred Heart’s advocates for justice renewed their commitment to continue organizing and lobbying. ¡El Pueblo unido jamás será vencido! (The people united will never be defeated!)
They are embodying the faith-justice mission of Jesuit sponsored ministries.