Category Archives: Federal Legislation

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 262

There is Still Time to Renew DACA Registration. The U.S Supreme Court has delayed hearing the Administration’s challenge to DACA. For those who want to renew their DACA registration, there is still time to submit a renewal application. As always, consult a qualified immigration attorney.

National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. January was the designated month, but the needs are still there. In February is the feast of St. Josephine Bakita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. As Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, former Chairman of the Committee on Migration has stated, “On [February 8th] we will lift our voices loudly in prayer, hope and love for trafficking victims and survivors. If just one person realizes from this day that they or someone they know is being trafficked, we will have made a difference.” View the toolkit for ways to combat trafficking.

An Interesting Fact, But to What Effect? According to Pew Research, at least 13% of new Congress lawmakers are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Whether these legislators will impact immigration reform in the next two years has yet to be seen. 

World Youth Day. The weeklong celebration in Panama has finished, but the blessings will continue. Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso discussed the benefits of bringing together youth from all over the world to share their faith.

Fordham University Professor is Preparing a Graduate Class on Theology and Migration. A New York professor is preparing to teach classes using Christian mystical texts to explore theology at the border. Read the story of the professor’s journey from El Salvador to California, and to a Trappist monastery to academia.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 261

Migration Policy and Human Trafficking. The more difficult we make it for people to move, the more likely they are to be trafficked,” said Canadian Jesuit and Vatican expert Father Michael Czerny. How can this not be surprising? The Church supports those who have been trafficked and migrating.

ICYMI – St. Josephine Bakhita. St. Josephine Bakhita was sold into slavery at an early age, but was later freed and served God in religious life. She died in 1947 and was canonized in 2000. Her feast day is February 8. Click here to see her icon and prayer card.

Don’t Forget to Register For New Americans Day at the Georgia State Capitol. Click here for more information and registration. This is a good opportunity to share Catholic teaching.

Lawsuit Filed Over Prolonged Detention of Children. With everything else filling the media, detained children fall into the background. However, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and others have joined a class action on behalf of the more than 10,000 children currently being held by the Trump administration in detention centers across the country. Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of CLINIC stated, “We cannot allow this administration to continue to intentionally keep children away from their families, it is immoral and inhumane.” The full statement and links to the briefs are available online.

U.S. Bishops and the “Federal Shutdown.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) President, along with Chairman of Bishops’ Migration Committee issued a statement urging the President and lawmakers to end the shutdown. It also stated that the Administration’s proposal for temporary relief for DACA and TPS recipients was not sufficient. DACA and TPS recipients need a path to permanent relief. Furthermore, legislation should not increase the burdens on those seeking asylum.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 259

The Wall, Asylum and All That. It would be impossible – and, for purposes of this report, a waste of time – to summarize all the developments related to the federal government shut down and the proposed wall on the southern border. Nonetheless, there are several Catholic social issues to consider. Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, Texas, on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), stated, “Secure borders and humane treatment of those fleeing persecution and seeking a better life are not mutually exclusive. The United States can ensure both and must do so without instilling fear or sowing hatred.” The Jesuit Office of Ecology and Justice explored myths about asylum seekers.

Humanitarian Assistance at the US / Mexican Border and the Catholic Response. What is the Catholic Church doing at the border? Find out through a webinar sponsored by Justice for Immigrants, USCCB Migration and Refugee Service and others on Wednesday, January 30. You can login online or dial in at (267) 279-9000. The passcode: 648174#.

See the Toolkit for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month. February 8, the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, is an annual day of prayer and awareness against human trafficking. The USCCB Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) has issued a 2019 toolkit to educate Catholics. For more information and to get involved, email MRSTraff@usccb.org. Also, please also be on the lookout for an invitation to an event celebrating St. Josephine Bakhita!

ICYMI – Remember Unaccompanied Children in Prayer. Immigrant children who are not living with their parents or other relatives need all types of support. We can all give them our prayers. This prayer can help you get started.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 241

Can You Help? We have an immediate need for volunteers to work with immigrants in all areas of metro Atlanta and North Georgia. If you are Safe Environment approved and are willing and available to drive someone to an ICE check-in or court date, please email Kat Doyle at kdoyle@archatl.com as soon as possible. We expect this to be an ongoing need. If you are interested in helping and are not Safe Environment approved, please contact Kat Doyle to begin the process.

Family Separation is Still an Issue. Families are still separated as a result of the Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. Justice for Immigrants has updated its website with additional background information and recommendations for parishes and advocacy groups.

What Are the Alternatives to Immigration Detention? Learn more by viewing a recent webinar from Justice for Immigrants.

Possible Changes to Legal Immigration System. The Administration is considering changes to the immigration system that would affect legal public residents (green card holders) who want to seek citizenship. Anyone considering citizenship should consult an immigration attorney as soon as possible to see if they are affected.

DHS May Be Required to Accept New DACA Applications. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be required to restart accepting and reviewing new DACA applications. A federal court in the District of Columbia ruled that DHS did not properly repeal regulations related to DACA and that the program should be reinstated for new applicants. The change will not be effective until late August unless a court of appeals intervenes.

Changes to Asylum Standards. The Administration has issued new standards to determine whether an asylee can stay in the United States. If the proposal goes into effect, an individual seeking asylum because of domestic violence would be unable to obtain it. Only government endorsed violence would be eligible for asylum.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 233

ICYMI – Considering Citizenship? Are you thinking of filing paperwork to become a US citizen or know someone who is? The Atlanta New Americans Campaign is holding FREE citizenship clinics at THREE different locations throughout the Atlanta Metro Area on Saturday, June 23! Click here for more information and registration.

Separating Families at the Border – Catholic Bishops Take a Strong Stand. While the Administration continues separating parents and children seeking asylum in the United States, Catholic bishops, individually and collectively, at their General Assembly meeting in Fort Lauderdale spoke against such policies.

The bishops spent considerable time discussing immigration policy in general, but the separation of children from parents is outrageous. It would be difficult to collect all the individual statements, but several suffice from the bishops whose dioceses are the most impacted. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and archbishop of Galveston-Houston spoke to the issue in his opening address. Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso and the diocesan commission on migration issued a statement highlighting the evils derived from the separation policy. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston denounced use of children as pawns in political negotiations.

Domestic Violence and Fear of Gang Violence is No Longer Sufficient for Asylum. Attorney General Sessions recently changed a longstanding policy – domestic and gang violence no longer qualifies an asylum seeker. Click here to read more. Cardinal DiNardo, president of the USCCB, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego and others have denounced this change. Read more from America Magazine and Twitter. Catholic Legal Immigration Network and other faith-based groups also expressed their opposition.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 232

Considering Citizenship? Are you thinking of filing the paperwork to become a US citizen or know someone who is? The Atlanta New Americans Campaign is holding FREE citizenship clinics at THREE different locations throughout the Atlanta Metro Area on Saturday, June 23! Click here for more information and registration.

What Happened at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network’s 2018 Convening? Check out the highlights on the CLINIC Twitter account. Even if you do not follow everything, the breadth and depth of the workshops show the importance of using qualified immigration attorneys in immigration cases.

Separating Families at the Border. The Administration has expanded the practice of separating parents and children seeking asylum in the United States to discourage asylum seekers. Catholic bishops have spoken against such policies. “Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God” said Bishop Joe Vasquez, Bishop of Austin and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration. Click here to read more.

One Catholic Response at the Border. During the Convening last week, Kevin Vann, CLINIC Chair and Bishop of Orange, California, joined several people in crossing into Mexico to support families waiting to make their case for asylum. As children have a unique perspective, one of them drew a picture of Bishop Vann, complete with hat, glasses, pectoral cross and, most important, heart. See the artwork online.

CLINIC Does the Work of the Church. Sponsored and supported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), CLINIC is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Read a perspective of the organization’s impact on many people from National Catholic Reporter.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 228

Catholic Bishops Support “Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act of 2017” (H.R. 4796).  The USA Act is a bipartisan bill that offers a path to citizenship for DACA Dreamers and increases existing border security technology at the U.S./Mexico border. Read more on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website. Also, Archbishop Jose Gomez explains the bill in light of the California experience.

Legislative Orientation Program (LOP) Funding Not “Paused.” LOP is a program funded by the Department of Justice so that non-profit grant recipients can provide an orientation on pertinent legal rights to new detainees in immigration detention centers. Catholic Charities Atlanta provides these services to Stewart, Ocilla and Atlanta detention centers. The Department of Justice initially proposed to “pause’ the funding this month, but after comments from a number of organizations, including a joint letter from a group of bishops, including Archbishop Gregory and Bishop Hartmayer, the Department reversed the decision and will continue the funding.

Will DACA Continue, Allow Renewals or Accept New Applications? There have been court decisions related to DACA, but all media reports are not completely accurate. If you are DACA registered or want to be, consult a qualified attorney or non-profit legal provider. For a quick rundown of options, check out the diagram on the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) website.

Catholic Bishops Continue to Speak Out in Support of Migrating People. Read or listen to the interview with Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, NJ. Among other things, the Cardinal, invoking principles of Catholic social teaching, said, “Certainly, the capricious nature of the laws and the enforcement of laws around immigration is an offense to human dignity. It is a wound to the common good.”

ICYMI – How Much Do You Want To Know About Immigration Law and Practice? The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) provides many courses in a variety of formats for those who want to know more about immigration law. Visit the CLINIC website for a 90 minute presentation on the fundamentals of immigration law and a four part webinar series on family based immigration applications. For a complete introduction or more extensive information, plan to attend the CLINIC Annual Convening in Tucson, Arizona May 30 – June 1.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 227

Lawsuit Filed Against Operator of Detention Center. Three detainees have filed a class action lawsuit against the contract operator of the Steward Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia, alleging that the company unlawfully required detainees to work for substandard wages.

Gaudate et Exaltate (continued). For good commentary on Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation with an emphasis on the human dignity of migrants, check out this article from National Catholic Reporter.

The United States Supreme Court ruled this week that some deportation related statutes are unconstitutional because they vaguely describe crimes that authorize deportation. This decision does not apply to all crimes. As always, consult a qualified immigration attorney if you think you or someone you know is in danger of deportation.

ICYMI – How Much Do You Want To Know About Immigration Law and Practice? The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) provides many courses in a variety of formats for those who want to know more about immigration law. Visit the CLINIC website for a 90 minute presentation on the fundamentals of immigration law and a four part webinar series on family based immigration applications. For a complete introduction or more extensive information, plan to attend the CLINIC Annual Convening in Tucson, Arizona May 30 – June 1.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 226

How Much Do You Want to Know About Immigration Law and Practice? The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) provides many courses in a variety of formats for those who want to know more about immigration law. Visit the CLINIC website for a 90 minute presentation on the fundamentals of immigration law and a four part webinar series on family based immigration applications. For a complete introduction or more extensive information, plan to attend the CLINIC Annual Convening in Tucson, Arizona May 30 – June 1.

Catholic Bishops Criticize Administration’s Deployment of National Guard to Southern Border. U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee Chair Bishop Joe Vasquez issued a statement supporting the bishops serving along the border. Read more from the Catholic Standard and on the Diocese of Laredo website.

Gaudete et Exultate. Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on holiness focuses on wide aspects of service that expresses holiness. “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.” Also, he says “This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad.” Click here to read the entire exhortation on the Vatican website.

Introducing Real Refugees. Pope Francis speaks often of the need to encounter others, not just have information about them. Last September, the Holy Father initiated the “Share the Journey” campaign so we all might encounter our refugee and migrant brothers and sisters. Check out the featured stories online and reflect on how you are encountering refugees in your community.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 225

2018 Georgia General Assembly Session Ended on March 29. When the 2018 legislative session ended, several anti-immigrant bills “died” without action and will not become law. SB 452 would have mandated various courts and state and local law enforcement agencies identify persons in their custody who are not lawfully present, detain them and provide information to federal immigration officials. Currently, some of the prescribed actions are authorized but not required. Senate Resolution 587 sponsored by Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) and SR 613 sponsored by Senator David Shafer both proposed a constitutional amendment to make English the official language of Georgia for all government documents, including driver license applications and tests. SB 161 proposed a separately designed driver license for non-citizens to quickly identify immigrants and raise suspicions about anyone with the license, whether they are documented or not. The Georgia Catholic Conference opposed all these bills.

National Guard Deployed to the Southern Border? As the Administration proposed the National Guard to “defend” the border between the United States and Mexico, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso succinctly summed up the situation and Christian response, including a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Immigration Law Is Complex. Do not trust just anyone when you have immigration law questions. Refer to protection information and unauthorized practice of immigration law on the Catholic Legal Immigration Network website.

ICYMI – Connect on Social Media. If you are on Twitter and want up to date information about immigration developments from the Catholic perspective, please follow accounts sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) – including the Justice for Immigrants campaign, Migration and Refugee Services, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).