Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Catholic leaders from around the country at Loyola Marymount University at the Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative Conference on Thursday, voicing his support for policies that could better welcome immigrants into our society, rather than trying to force them out.
The conference — organized by the New York-based Center for Migration Studies, LMU, Mount Saint Mary’s University, and Providence St. Joseph Health — was intended to study, document, and support a growing network of diverse Catholic institutions working successfully to advance immigrant integration, empowerment, and wellbeing.
LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., introduced Garcetti to an audience in the Life Sciences Building auditorium that included academic and religious leaders.
“The mayor continues to urge Congress to pass a bipartisan DREAM act, as well as to plan for comprehensive immigration reform and put an end to the panic that has gripped so many in our immigrant community,” Snyder said.
In his opening remarks, Garcetti told the gathering that following the daily news and politics coming out of Washington, D.C., can be disheartening. But, he added, “it is the collection of local communities that empower our capital and not vice versa. Change has always come from individuals.”
He urged those in attendance to exercise their power.
“This is a room full of leaders. And I need you, and we need you, to lead,” Garcetti said. “We have policies that we need to pass. We have programs that we need to implement. We have help that we need to go and do. And when we look at Los Angeles, there is no better place to be — right now, when it comes to this debate around who we are — than right here, in this city that is the face of the world today, and a picture of the face of this country tomorrow.”
The conference continued Thursday and Friday with panels and workshops on immigrant advocacy, issues surrounding legal status, parish-based programs, and other topics.