Tag Archives: justice and peace

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Update 52

Children at the Borders. Much is being written about the children and young families crossing the southern border of the United States and, unfortunately, much of the information is contradictory, thus, it is sometimes difficult to discern what is accurate. Nonetheless, it is critical that we search for the truth and speak the truth to government officials as well as our friends and neighbors.

Some Catholic bishops have been directly involved in visiting the children and in seeing what is actually going on. Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, has written an excellent reflection from his direct experience and the services offered by his diocese. http://bishopflores.blogspot.com/2014/07/southern-baptists-and-catholics.html Also read the reflection of Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. http://bishopflores.blogspot.com/2014/07/southern-baptists-and-catholics.html

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services makes available complete and excellent documentation. http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/unaccompanied-migrant-children-resource-kit.cfm

Immigration Update Gatherings. During the week of July 14, Kat Doyle, Director of Justice and Peace Ministries and Frank Mulcahy, Executive Director of the Georgia Catholic Conference, spoke at three parishes about the most recent information available related to the plight of children coming to the United States without parents or guardians. The issues evolve daily and we bring up to date and accurate information. If other parishes would like to sponsor an update for immigration committees in their area, please contact Kat Doyle at kdoyle@archatl.com.

Advocacy – What to do? Congress has taken a five week recess without taking any definitive action to address the humanitarian crisis. Members will be in their districts for part of their recess time and it is an opportune time to contact them through email or personal visits to advocate for principles based on the reflection of our bishops. In particular, we ask the following:

  • Preserve the protections of the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act passed in 2008.
  • Support supplemental funding for the care and protection of vulnerable unaccompanied children while restoring funding for refugee resettlement. (Refugee resettlement funding directly affects the services that Catholic Charities Atlanta can provide.)
  • Funding should include funding for judges and lawyers who can fairly adjudicate the asylum claims of children as required by law.
  • Provide support to address the root causes of poverty and violence in Central American countries. (USCCB Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Refugee Services and other Catholic agencies have long been aware of the problems in Central America and the factors that push migration from those countries. They have, thus, been using what resources they have to address these overwhelming problems but private charities cannot fully solve government problems.)

The most convenient way to contact legislators is through the Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants website. http://justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml.

Note: House of Representatives legislation passed on Friday, August 1, in being analyzed by USCCB staff but, on first reading, seems contrary to the many of the principles enunciated by Catholic bishops.

What else can I do? USCCB Migration and Refugee Services has short summary that includes recommended actions. As children and refugee families move into Georgia, St. Vincent de Paul conferences and parish charities will have increased needs. Catholic Charities Atlanta should also be considered along with the national charities identified by the USCCB summary. The summary also makes reference to the possibility of local families becoming sponsors of migrant families or becoming qualified foster families for children without relatives in the United States.

Prayer. Though prepared in 2013, Pope Francis’ universal prayer intention for August is: “That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.”

I can provide additional information on request.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Update 51

National Migration Conference. Even though comprehensive immigration reform appears stalled in Congress, several representatives of the Georgia Catholic Conference, the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Catholic Charities Atlanta journeyed to Washington, DC, participated with over 850 others from Catholic charities offices and dioceses across the country in studying the many issues that surround migrating people as well as in meeting with some of our own Georgia legislators to discuss immigration reform, the needs of unaccompanied minor children, human trafficking . Participants recorded a total of over 250 meetings with congressional staff during the conference.

Immigration Update Gathering – South, Central and North. Kat Doyle, Director of Justice and Peace Ministries and Frank Mulcahy, Executive Director of the Georgia Catholic Conference, spoke at three parishes about the most recent information they received while attending the National Migration Conference last week. If other parishes would like to sponsor an update for immigration committees in their area, please contact Kat Doyle at kdoyle@archatl.com.

Encountering Immigrants, Rejecting the Throwaway Culture. Pope Francis continues to speak as a pastor on the needs of migrating people in Mexico and Central and South America and throughout the world. Last week, he wrote to the Mexico Holy / See Colloquium meeting in Mexico about the fundamental approach to all people. “A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of the throw away culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture of capable of building as better, more just and fraternal world.” (Quoting his own statement from the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.)

Unaccompanied Minor Children at the Southern Border. The Catholic bishops of the United States continue their advocacy for the wellbeing of all children, regardless of origin. The bishops’ conferences from the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras jointly exhorted parents to not expose their children to the dangerous journey while also asking all governments in the region to assume responsibility for development in poorer countries where poverty and gang violence is spreading. In the face of dramatically increasing numbers of children traveling without parents or guardians, the bishops of the United States ask our government for continued protection of civil rights for these children as well as appropriations to care for children and families while their rights are fairly considered. The bishops ask the government to direct funding toward family oriented housing, not more family detention centers (i.e. family jails) as well as child care centers, post release services, proper legal representation for all children and assistance for sending countries for anti-violence and anti-poverty programs.

Federal Legislation. Important as is the plight of the many unaccompanied children at our doorsteps, our nation still needs comprehensive immigration in line with the principles that the bishops have long advocated. Review our principles for reform at the Justice for Immigrants website and then request that your House of Representatives members bring an immigration reform bill for a vote as soon as possible. The most convenient way to contact legislators is through the Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants website http://justiceforimmigrants.org/index.shtml.

Next Immigration Report. Since I will be attending an out of state conference, there will not be another CIR report until the August 4 Communiqué.

I can provide additional information on request.