On Friday, November 8th, 75 clergy, faith leaders and immigrant families ended a six-day pilgrimage with a Mass and prayer vigil outside Rep. Erik Paulsen’s office. The pilgrims walked 36 miles in solidarity with 11 million aspiring Americans to call on Rep. Paulsen to publicly support immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.
The group opened the event by painting a huge mural of their handprints. They celebrated, heard stories about the pilgrims’ journey and delivered hundreds of letters to Rep. Paulsen’s office. Once inside, a small group of pilgrims asked to speak with the Congressman, stating that they would remain in the office until Rep. Paulsen agreed to see them. While waiting, they prayed, sang and told immigration stories of personal hardships and triumphs. The group was eventually asked to leave by an Eden Prairie police officer.
“Thus far, Rep. Paulsen has not agreed to hear our position and the desperate needs of our families for a roadmap to citizenship,” said Ben Anderson, an organizer with ISAIAH, which has been working with Catholic Charities to form the Pilgrimage for Citizenship. “We have walked across his district, we have lifted up our hands to God in prayer and now we leave our handprints behind to remind Rep. Paulsen that he holds the fate of hundreds of Minnesota families.”
The pilgrims’ symbolic journey took them through the Third Congressional district in hopes of persuading Rep. Paulsen to join in solidarity with constituents in his district and people across the country who support a pathway to citizenship. But the Congressman has yet to publicly declare a position and has so far refused to meet with immigration reform advocates, most of whom are his constituents.