Category Archives: Federal Legislation

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 193

DREAM ACT / DACA. In all the discussion about the Administration’s approach to those the government has given DACA registration status, it is important to remember that DACA was always intended as a temporary remedy for young people brought to the United States as children. Legislation is necessary for permanent status. While advocating for comprehensive immigration as a long-range goal, the Dream Act would give immeasurable help to those who were brought to this country as children. Senators Graham and Durbin have introduced federal Dream legislation. Hence, Catholic bishops continue to support the Dream Act.

Deaths in Smugglers’ Truck. We join in prayer with those mourning the deaths of nine people and injuries to others in a sealed truck in San Antonio as smugglers tried to bring them into the United States. “There are no words to convey the sadness, despair, and yes, even anger, we feel today at learning of the completely senseless deaths of nine people who died as human smuggling or trafficking victims from heat exhaustion and suffocation in San Antonio overnight,” Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller said July 23. “This is an incomprehensible tragedy.”

Jesuits Are Expanding Ministries to Immigrants and Refugees. Jesuits in the United States are developing a Campaign for Hospitality to reach out to U.S. and Canadian Jesuit universities, schools, parishes, ministries, retreat centers, communities. The goal is to engage people in the Jesuit family who may not normally participate in social justice initiatives, such as alumni of Jesuit schools, parents of students, and parishioners.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 192

Sorrow and Mourning Flee Away: Pastoral Letter on Migration to the People of God in the Diocese of El Paso. Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas issued a passionate pastoral letter on immigration. Under Bishop Seitz, the Diocese of El Paso has generously responded to the needs of countless migrating brothers and sisters seeking safety, especially mothers and children. Please take time to read this excellent letter. This may be the single most extensive pastoral letter on immigration since the Catholic bishops of the United States and Mexico issued Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope in 2003. (Note that Bishop Seitz’s letter is published in both English and Spanish on the El Paso diocesan website).

Administration Travel Ban. The Supreme Court continues the convoluted saga of the Administration travel ban on immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries. The travel ban went into effect June 29, 2017. It restricts travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and limits all refugee admissions for 120 days. In June, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to take effect, but also allowed an exception for close relatives of U.S. citizens and refugees with direct connection to resettlement agencies. Contrary to the desires of the Administration, the Court continued the exception for close relatives, including grandparents. Then the entire case returned to the Court of Appeals for additional consideration. As a result, anyone affected by these administrative actions must contact a qualified immigration attorney for protection.

ICYMI – Refugees and Citizenship. With all the threats to immigrants and refugees, it may be time for those who are eligible to explore the possibilities of citizenship.

 

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 190

Hearings Required Before Minors Can Be Detained. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in an important decision opposed by the Administration, has ruled that minor children have a right to a hearing before an independent judge before they can be placed in a detention facility. Read more here.

Supreme Court Temporarily Upheld Part of Administration Travel Ban. The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on the travel ban issued by the Administration in the fall of 2017 but, until it reaches a final decision, the Court permits entry of refugees “who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” This means that the executive order’s prohibition on entry into the United States may not be applied to people with “bona fide” connections to the United States. Refugees who can establish such ties are not subject to the entry ban even if the total number of refugees exceeds the 50,000 annual limit that the executive order had imposed. However, all others from the six listed countries and refugees who do not have such connections to the United States are subject to the temporary travel ban. See a discussion of the major points relevant to those affected here. As always, those who may be affected should consult a qualified immigration attorney with their individual situation.

KNOW YOUR REFUGEE RIGHTS: “BE PREPARED, NOT SCARED” Refugees, immigrants and all others should be aware of their rights when dealing with the government officials. CLINIC and Justice for Immigrants publishes these guides to help.  JFI promises that more aids are coming in additional languages.

New Americans Campaign in Atlanta. Atlanta has the second fastest-growing immigrant population in the country, after Baltimore and thirteen percent of Atlanta immigrants are eligible to apply for citizenship, according to Luisa Cardona, deputy director of immigrant affairs for the Atlanta Mayor’s Office. Yet many eligible immigrants here have not taken that step. In response, a group of local community organizations has joined the nonpartisan national network New Americans Campaign with a common goal: to support as many immigrants and refugees as they can to become U.S. citizens. Read more about the campaign and opportunities to explore citizenship possibilities here.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 188

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians. The Trump Administration has extended temporary protected status for Haitians for six months (until January 2018) but re-registration is required. If you are currently registered for TPS or work with those having this status, please remind them to re-register before July 24. Click here for details.

CLINIC Masses. While Catholic Immigration Network (CLINIC) employs advocates without discrimination and offers services to all, Catholic identity is important. This year, Archbishop Gregory celebrated Mass on the first day for participants during its annual convening held in Atlanta. Father Rey Pineda from the Cathedral of Christ the King celebrated Mass on the second day.

Refugee Ban. In the ongoing struggle over the Trump Administration ban on refugees from certain countries, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond issued an order continuing the prohibition on implementation of the executive order. The order will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court; but at this time, the executive order is not in effect.

Number of Permissible Refugees. Shortly after taking office, the Trump Administration lowered the annual number of refugees that would be permitted to enter the United States from 110,000 to 50,000. The State Department has quietly changed the reduction so that as many as 70,000 refugees may be admitted by end of the fiscal year in September.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 187

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.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 186

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.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 185

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 LocationsWays 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 (mpriceman@usccb.org).

 

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 183

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.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 182

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.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 181

“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.