Naturalization Applications Increase. U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) reports that it has received an unprecedented number of naturalization applications in the last 12 months, totaling more than 971,000 in FY 2016 (compared with 738,000 in FY 2015). The agency’s ability to process naturalization applications has been complicated by technological issues and the introduction of higher filing fees. Despite reported complications and processing delays, interest in naturalization remains high. By the end of 2016, almost 637,000 applications were pending before the agency, compared to almost 389,000 in 2015.
El Refugio at Stewart Detention Center. El Refugio is a ministry of hospitality offered to families of individuals detained in the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia. El Refugio was recently saddened by the death of a young man the volunteers attempted to assist. If you want to know more about El Refugio or are willing to assist the ministry, find out more on their website.
Cardinal Tobin Speaks in Support of Immigrants. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of Newark, NJ, continues to speak out against unjust immigration policies and challenges all to see immigrants as they are, and not as distorted stereotypes.
ICYMI – Why Support Extension of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United States? Political and religious leaders continue to ask the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to extend temporary protective status (TPS) for Haitians who have fled to the United States because of devastation in Haiti following the earthquake in 2011 and Hurricane Matthew in 2014. The moral case for this position is set forth in a letter from religious leaders and organizations, including Catholic Legal Immigration network (CLINIC) and Catholic Charities offices from many dioceses. Take a few minutes to register your beliefs with the Department of Homeland Security.
Why Support Extension of Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for Haitians in the United State? Political and religious leaders continue to ask the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to extend temporary protective status (TPS) for Haitians who have fled to the United States because of the devastation in Haiti following the earthquake in 2011 and Hurricane Matthew in 2014. The moral case for this position is set forth in a letter from religious leaders and organizations, including Catholic Legal Immigration network (CLINIC) and Catholic Charities from many dioceses. Take a few minutes to register your beliefs with the Department of Homeland Security.
Increasing Immigration Enforcement. It is no secret that the Administration is increasing the emphasis of prosecution on those seen as violating immigration law. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently released a memorandum outlining laws that may be used against violators. More detailed training is available in a CLINIC webinar.
ICYMI – CLINIC CONVENING. Anyone (particularly legal service providers) interested in learning more about immigration law or further developing skills, is encouraged to investigate the Catholic Legal Immigration Network annual convening, which will be held in Atlanta on May 24 – 26 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. This is an extraordinary event for all skill and interest levels.
City of Clarkston Announces Limited Cooperation with ICE. The City of Clarkston, GA has announced a policy of not arresting or detaining anyone based on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests called “detainers” or “administrative immigration warrants.” Click here for more information. While not calling itself a “sanctuary city,” please note that because of ICE’s authority to take immigration violators into custody, those in Clarkston should be careful in relying on the city’s policy.
Problems with the Atlanta Immigration Court. The Emory University School of Law and Southern Poverty Law Center are calling for an investigation into the Atlanta-based federal immigration court, alleging discrimination and hostility on the part of some judges. According to their findings, the Atlanta Immigration Court denies asylum at the highest rate of any immigration court – 98 percent. Also, the average bond set by its judges is typically 41 percent higher than the national average ($8,200 versus $11,637). These are good reasons why anyone going before these courts should retain a qualified immigration attorney.
CLINIC Convening. Anyone (particularly legal service providers) interested in learning more about immigration law or further developing their skills in this area are encouraged to attend the Catholic Legal Immigration Network annual convening in Atlanta May 24-26, 2017 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. This is an extraordinary event for all skill and interest levels.
ICYMI – Justice for Immigrants (JFI) Resources. JFI has developed new video resources regarding ways to prepare yourself and your family for encounters with immigration enforcement authorities. In addition to the “Know Your Rights” videos JFI launched in February, there are two new mobile-friendly videos (both in English and Spanish) on Preparing Your Family and Connecting with your Community. All of these videos are housed on the JFI website’s video resources page. In addition to the videos, JFI still has resources on its website that deal with Enforcement at Sensitive Locations, Ways to Protect Yourself, advocacy and more. If you have any questions about the videos or to obtain copies, please contact MRS Communications Manager Mark Priceman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Update. Attention TPS holders from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia: TPS status terminates for holders in your countries on May 20, 2017. Click here for more information. It is highly recommended that all these individuals get screened to see if they are eligible for other immigration benefits. As always, consultation with competent immigration attorneys is essential.
Justice for Immigrants (JFI) Resources. JFI has new video resources available regarding ways to prepare your family and yourself for encounters with immigration enforcement authorities. In addition to the “Know Your Rights” videos JFI launched in February, there are two new mobile-friendly videos (both in English and Spanish) on “Preparing Your Family” and “Connecting with Your Community.” All of these videos are housed on the JFI video resources website. In addition, JFI has resources on its website that deal with Enforcement at Sensitive Locations, Ways to Protect Yourself, advocacy and more. If you have any questions about the videos or need copies, please contact MRS Communications Manager, Mark Priceman at email@example.com.
Georgia “Sanctuary Campus” Law Signed. On April 27, Governor Nathan Deal signed Georgia House Bill 37, which will bar state education funding to private colleges which declare themselves “sanctuary campuses.”
ICYMI – Sanctuary Cities, “Sensitive Locations.” Sanctuary for undocumented immigrants or others is being widely discussed. Get background information from the Justice for Immigrants webinar. Also, listen to Archbishop Gregory’s interview.
Extension of TPS Designation for Haitians. On April 17th, Catholic leadership of the Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting an extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians in the U.S. for an additional 8 months. TPS prevents Haitians from being deported because of the continued conditions in Haiti resulting from Hurricane Matthew and other factors. The current TPS is set to expire on July 22, 2017 but the U.S. government must act by April 22, 2017 which is 90 days from the expiration date.
Sanctuary Cities, “Sensitive Locations.” Sanctuary for undocumented immigrants or others is being widely discussed. Background information will be available in a webinar by the Justice for Immigrants on Wednesday, April 26th. Details are available here. Also, listen to Archbishop Gregory’s interview.
Atlanta Urban Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. Justice and Peace Ministries of the Archdiocese of Atlanta sponsored the Urban Stations of the Cross on Good Friday morning. At fourteen locations, beginning at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and ending at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, over 150 people listened to reflections on Jesus’ journey to the cross in light of social justice issues, including the plight of immigrants and refugees, human trafficking, urban food deserts and others. This was the thirty seventh occasion of these reflections.
Cardinal DiNardo, President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal DiNardo expressed his disagreement with President Trump on the issue of immigration in a recent interview as he prepares to meet personally with the president.
Washington Post Recognizes Role of Pope Francis in Migration. Even the Washington Post is recognizing the prophetic role that Pope Francis is playing in migration and refugee issues around the world. Click here to read the article.
Administration Enforcement Activity. As the Trump Administration continues to defend its refugee bans, it also emphasizes increased enforcement within the United States. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke of expanding enforcement efforts during a trip to Arizona during the past week. See this article for local news on immigration.
“Migration, if handled with humanity, is an opportunity for everyone to meet and grow.” Thus says Pope Francis in a recent interview as he continues to extend his heart and prayers to all migrating peoples. Read the full interview. The pope recently set up a new dicastry (office of the Roman Curia) that included a special section reporting directly to him. “The multitude of migrants, refugees, displaced people and victims of human trafficking requires particular care. This is why I decided to take care of them personally, at least for a while, and why the section reports to me directly.”
Unaccompanied Children. Unaccompanied children from other countries are still among us even if their problems are not on the front page. Consider this webinar to help identify and help them in your current ministries.
Administration Actions. While the courts still prohibit implementation of the Administration’s ban on refugees, the Department of Homeland Security has apparently increased its enforcement activities. See this example and Catholic response from Cincinnati.
ICYMI – How Can I Learn More To Help Immigrants And Refugees? Anyone (especially lawyers, legal assistants and law students) who want to assist their clients by learning more about immigration law have the opportunity to attend the annual convening of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), being held at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta this year. Visit their website for details and registration information.
Immigration. The Georgia General Assembly completed its 2017 legislative session on March 30 after passing two bills that directly affect immigrants, refugees and those who work with them. Although the bills passed both legislative houses, Governor Deal has forty days to sign or veto the laws before they become effective.
HB 37 will bar state funding to private post-secondary institutions which declare themselves “sanctuary campuses.” http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/37
HB 452 will require the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to create and maintain a website with the names of immigrants who lack legal status and have been released from federal custody in Georgia. http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/HB/452
How Can I Learn More To Help Immigrants And Refugees? Anyone (especially lawyers, legal assistants and law students) who want to assist their clients by learning more about immigration law have the opportunity to attend the annual convening of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), which is being held at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta this year. Details and registration information are available at https://cliniclegal.org/convening.
ICYMI – Interview with Archbishop Gregory. Read commentary on an interview with Archbishop Gregory and listen to the entire interview discussing President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries, the idea of “sanctuary” cities, and the poisonous state of civic discourse. http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2017/03/20/atlanta-archbishop-on-poisonous-political-talk-its-in-the-water/
Interview with Archbishop Gregory. Archbishop Gregory was interviewed on March 17. Read the commentary on the interview with Archbishop Gregory, and listen to the whole interview discussing President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries, the idea of “sanctuary” cities, and the poisonous state of civic discourse. http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2017/03/20/atlanta-archbishop-on-poisonous-political-talk-its-in-the-water/
Why Can’t They Get in Line? Some often ask this question regarding undocumented immigrants. However, there is no “line” and the wait can extend decades. This article explains this part of the process. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-immigration-waits-20170320-story.html
What Can I Do To Respond To the Refugee Executive Orders? There is much talk about responding to the executive orders related to refugees, but what are some practical and effective steps? See recommendations from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Justice for Immigrants campaign. http://justiceforimmigrants.org/2016site/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/WHAT-YOU-CAN-DO-3.1.17-FINAL.pdf
“Living as a People of God in Unsettled Times” On March 22, the USCCB Administrative Committee issued the following pastoral reflection in solidarity with those who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict or fear in their native lands. In the statement, the bishops encourage each of us to do what we can to accompany migrants and refugees who seek a better life in the United States. http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-054.cfm
See additional comments: http://catholicherald.com/News/National___International/National/U_S__Catholics_asked__to_accompany__migrants,_refugees_seeking_better_life/
Work for Integration With Local Leaders. How can parish leaders work with local leaders to help with the integration of migrating people into their communities? The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) offers suggestions. https://cliniclegal.org/resources/promoting-immigrant-integration- ideas-working-together-your-local-officials
Refugee Travel Ban. The Trump administration travel ban has again been prohibited by the courts. Catholic leaders speak in support of refugees. https://cliniclegal.org/resources/network-nonprofit-immigration-legal-services- lauds-court-stays-travel-ban-and-refugee
Georgia Legislation. There are two bills moving through the Georgia General Assembly that have a likelihood of passage and could adversely affect immigrants, both documented and undocumented. The Georgia Catholic Conference opposes both bills.
HB 37 would bar state funding to private post-secondary institutions which declare themselves “sanctuary campuses.”
HB 452 would require the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to create and maintain a public website with the names of all aliens, i.e. non-citizens, who have been released from federal custody in Georgia.
ICYMI – Seek Qualified Assistance. In this time of uncertainty for many immigrants and refugees, many seek help with legal issues. It is essential that everyone use only qualified attorneys or legal service providers. CLINIC offers resources to avoid unqualified individuals who prey on those in need. https://cliniclegal.org/notario. In particular, check out five tips for avoiding scams. https://cliniclegal.org/sites/default/files/resources/unauthorizedpractice/5-Ways-to- Avoid-Immigration-Scams.pdf If you know someone who may be the victim of immigration fraud, here is a way to file a complaint. https://cliniclegal.org/resources/how-and-where-file-immigration-scam-complaint