Embracing Mother Cabrini's Vision: Pursuing Immigrant Justice in the Classroom and Beyond
Immigration has been among the most contentious issues in the national discourse throughout this country’s history, from the race-based citizenship and exclusion laws of the first half of the 20th century to the raids and mass deportations of migrant workers that persist today.
With the impending presidential elections, immigration has again risen to the forefront of the collective American consciousness. Predictably, the political rhetoric continues to overlook the root causes of migration, and justice for our immigrant communities remains elusive. The dominant political discourse continues to conflate migration with criminality as politicians threaten to build literal and metaphorical walls, as well as exclude individuals on the basis of religious affiliation.
This year, coincidentally, also marks the 70th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Patroness of Immigrants. In her tireless work with the Italian immigrant community, Mother Cabrini was cognizant of the negative perceptions many people in the United States held against newcomers to this country. She encountered active resistance to her work, including resistance from some of her own coreligionists. In turn, Mother Cabrini set out to demonstrate that “Italian immigration is not a dangerous element” to this country. As former Cabrini President Mary Louise Sullivan, MSC, has rightly argued, Mother Cabrini would “deplore [the] renascent xenophobia” currently espoused. The Patroness of Immigrants would “advocate an appreciation of the cultural values and heritage of newcomers.” Nonetheless, the fear of “the Other,” confronted by Mother Cabrini, endures today.