Sunday, May 23, 2010


The national turmoil swirling around immigrants and immigration reform has become more ugly by the day. And it's now all focused upon our Hispanic brothers and sisters. It's no longer a civil discussion about how to fix our broken federal immigration system--it's an outright attack on Hispanics.

Some Los Angeles local radio talk shows spew out non-stop characterizations of Hispanics without even pretending to be objective. Their description of Hispanic families, their culture, their way of life, and their history in our State is not only false, but done in appalling and shameful language. Several talk show hosts are shameless in their baseless denunciation of our Hispanic friends and neighbors.

I cannot recall in my past 25 years in Los Angeles of any group being so singled out for blanket blame, accusations, false information, and bitter attack. Hispanic immigrants are not only pointed to as a major cause of the current recession, but they are portrayed as uninterested in bettering our communities and nation.

Raised in the San Fernando Valley here in Los Angeles, I grew up with Hispanic peoples as a youth. Several worked for my father in his poultry processing plant. I cherished their personal faith and commitment to their families and to the community. They taught me how to treasure the contributions of each group of people here in Los Angeles.

As seminarians at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, we would go out with the priests to the Bracero Camps in the area to help with Mass and to assist these men who were brought up here from Mexico for harvests but separated for months from their families. Their spirit of sacrifice for their families is etched deeply in my heart.

As a young priest in the San Joaquin Valley, I was privileged to work with many thousands of marvelous Hispanic people scattered across the small farm communities--the breadbasket of our nation. I can still remember their faces, their simple joys of family, and their very hard work in the fields, orchards, and vineyards of the Valley.

Here in Los Angeles, I have been privileged to minister to many millions of our Hispanic brothers and sisters living in our midst--many for several generations.

These wonderful people do not deserve to be scape-goated by some media, nor to be blamed for countless woes of our communities and society.