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Posted April 19, 2006

Cardinal asks people not to support
immigration-related boycott May 1

By Catholic News Service

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony asked people not to support a boycott of work, school and businesses planned for May 1 to draw attention to immigration issues.

Some organizations that are working to bring attention to pending immigration legislation are following up several weeks' worth of massive rallies and marches nationwide with a call for the boycott.

Cardinal Mahony recommended instead that people mark May 1, the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, by devoting time to understanding "the dignity of work, the value of education and the important role immigrants play."

In a statement issued April 16, he especially encouraged Catholic parishes, schools and other church entities to take those steps.

Meanwhile, one Mexican bishop whose diocese is on the border near El Paso, Texas, encouraged Mexicans to boycott U.S. companies and products May 1.

Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon of Ciudad Juarez, who heads the Mexican bishops' migration committee, in a Good Friday homily called on Mexicans to join the boycott of U.S. products and companies, both in the United States and in Mexico.

"Mexicans who live on this side should show solidarity with the immigrants, the way Guatemalans, Nicaraguans and other Central Americans are doing," he said, according to Mexican newspapers.

Cardinal Mahony's statement included lists of activities for various groups as alternatives to the boycott.

For example, he suggested that employers set aside an hour during the day when employees can gather in small groups to discuss what they know about immigration, or provide materials employees can use to write to members of Congress about their concerns.

Schools might make use of a course syllabus on immigration to help students understand the issues, he said. Students and families could participate in a Day of the Worker celebration being held that day on the grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits.

"Our collective efforts to help enact immigration reform that is just, humane and workable demands that we channel our energies in ways that educate the people of our communities and help influence in positive ways our representatives and senators in Congress," Cardinal Mahony's statement said.

In a section on suggestions for principals and teachers, the statement emphasized that "boycotting school on May 1 will not bring about just and humane immigration reform -- sometimes, boycotts could even work against positive reform."

As alternatives, he encouraged teachers to talk about immigrants in their own families, to bring in ethnic foods and to have students write letters to lobby Congress.