Category Archives: Federal Legislation

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 305

Faces of migration. Do you want true stories of migrating people to share in your community? Follow JFI on Twitter. You can also share your own story of migration. Migrating people are not statistics. They all have faces, names and personal histories.

Do you want an information hub about how to help for refugee childrenBridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services (BRYCS) aims to help families integrate into a new culture with a wealth of information and useful links. This is an indispensable tool box for refugee families and those helping them.

Deported to danger. What happens to those who are deported to El Salvador, especially those who are Salvadorians? Read this report from Human Rights Watch to understand the reality beyond the headlines.  

Do you really know what the new “public charge” rules mean to you? You may have heard of the new “public charge” rules, but do you understand them? Do you know how do they apply to you or people you work with? Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) provides a helpful page explaining the new rules. As always, consult an immigration attorney before taking any action that may affect your immigration status.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 304

Supreme court allows “Public Charge” rule to go into effect. The administration’s proposed “Public Charge” rule could preclude immigrants who lawfully receive public welfare benefits from obtaining citizenship. A federal court had prohibited the administration from implementing the rule until its legality could be adjudicated. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has allowed the implementation of the rule even though not yet fully reviewed by a court. The bishop chairs of the USCCB committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Migration have expressed deep concern that this rule will deter families from seeking the food, medical care and other services they need. The bishops also urged those needing services to consult with service providers before refusing services. Read the full statement here.

“No More Deaths,” charity prevails. Members of the group “No More Deaths” were convicted in an Arizona federal court when they entered federal desert land to leave food and water for immigrants crossing the desert to enter the United States. The convictions were reversed, however, when the trespassers showed the court that they were acting out of sincerely held religious beliefs and that the government was not using the least intrusive remedy to protect government interests as required by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Bishops oppose expanded travel bans. The administration has expanded travel restrictions to include those seeking to move to the United States from Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Burma and Kyrgyzstan. The chairs of several committees have opposed these additional bans as seriously detrimental to family unity. Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) has also registered it concerns.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 303

Church celebrates the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita on February 8. Celebrate the live of St. Josephine Bakhita, born in Sudan and trafficked as a slave until she arrived in Italy where she converted to the Catholic faith, obtained freedom and entered the convent. Following a life of faith, she died in 1947 and was canonized in 2000. Pray for all those subjected to forced immigration today.

Human trafficking in Georgia. The Kemp administration, with the support of First Lady Marty Kemp, will be introducing legislation to reduce labor and sex trafficking in Georgia. Be prepared to discuss the issues as they relate to immigrants and other vulnerable populations with this backgrounder from Justice for Immigrants.

Justice for Immigrants does not throw away important information. JFI produces high quality and informative webinars related to immigration. If you missed any, search in their archives.

ICYMI Executive order has been enjoined. The Executive Order 13888 prohibited the longstanding refugee resettlement program in any state where the governor failed to sign a declaration that allowed the federal program in that state to continue. All, but five governors (including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp), signed the declaration; however, whether the declaration is signed or not a federal court has temporarily prohibited implementation of the executive order and the resettlement program can continue, even in Georgia.

The USCCB provides more information. Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, welcomed the court ruling in that it supported the unification of families as a primary factor in initial resettlement.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 302

Georgia First Lady Marty Kemp and human trafficking. The Kemp Administration is raising the visibility of human trafficking in Georgia with several legislative proposals that will be publicly introduced in the next week. The Georgia Catholic Conference has supported legislation to reduce trafficking and to educate the vulnerable. Trafficking is a national and international issue. Read more background information prepared by the Justice for Immigrants campaign established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Another excellent resource for refugee services is provided by Bridging Refugee Children and Youth Services at https://brycs.org/.

Executive order has been enjoined. The Executive Order 13888 prohibited the longstanding refugee resettlement program in any state where the governor failed to sign a declaration that allowed the federal program in that state to continue. All, but five governors (including Georgia Governor Brian Kemp), signed the declaration; however, whether the declaration is signed or not a federal court has temporarily prohibited implementation of the executive order and the resettlement program can continue, even in Georgia.

The USCCB provides more information. Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, welcomed the court ruling in that it supported the unification of families as a primary factor in initial resettlement.

Show Hospitality to the Stranger. Speaking on the need for unity among Christians and all people, Pope Francis said that the gift of baptism “links and expands our hearts, and opens them to our neighbor, who is not an adversary but our beloved brother, our beloved sister.”

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 301

National Immigration Week was January 5 -10. While the official week is over, the need for solidarity and action remains. Bishop Mario Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, called on all “to prayerfully unite and live out the Holy Father’s vision to welcome immigrants and refugees into our communities and to provide opportunities that will help them and all people of good will to thrive.” Response to that call is needed throughout the year, not just for one week.  

Express Your Support for Refugee Resettlement in Georgia. On September 26, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13888, which requires formal consent from a state governor and city mayor for continued refugee resettlement in Georgia. The written consent had been required by Friday, January 17. Governor Brian Kemp was one of a small handful of state governors who did not submit a consent. Nonetheless, a federal district court has issued an order prohibiting the implementation of this executive order. Thus, for the time being, the refugee resettlement program in Georgia can continue. It is still important to ask Governor Kemp to sign the necessary declaration. Email is the best way to contact the governor. The Catholic bishops of Georgia have written to Governor Kemp asking that he sign the declaration. For more information, click here.

Why (and How) Should We Advocate for Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees? The Jesuits have an answer. Put your own credibility on the line. See http://jesuitmigrantsolidarity.org/

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In addition, Saturday, February 8 is the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was kidnapped as a child and sold into slavery in Sudan and Italy. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has designated that feast as a day of prayer and awareness of human trafficking, keeping in mind that migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to traffickers. Read more about how to honor this day here.

ICYMI – The Georgia General Assembly began its 2020 session on January 13. Please pray that legislators will act for the common good of everyone in Georgia and remember that the common good is not based on the desires of the majority. We must remember those on the margins. In theological terms, the common good is defined in Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Mater et Magistra (“On Christianity and Social Progress”) as “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 280

USCCB Migration Chairman Opposes Administration’s Deportation Plans. Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, issued a statement on behalf of the Catholic bishops of the United States opposing the Administration’s plans to round up and deport undocumented immigrants.

You Have Rights, Know Them! When you are approached by ICE or other law enforcement officers, it is important to know your rights. Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) has materials to help protect you and your family. Download and study the materials in a variety of languages before you need them.

Bishops Urge Administration to Increase Resettlement of Refugees. In the face of the biggest migratory crisis since World War II – 25 million refugees word-wide – the bishops of the United States are urging the United States to increase the number of refugees admissible to the country. The Presidential Determination for refugees has been set at an all-time low of 30,000 for the current fiscal year. For years, Catholic Charities Atlanta has successfully participated with the government in settling refugees in Georgia.

Housing Eligibility for Mixed Families. Justice for Immigrants is hosting a webinar next Thursday, June 27th on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed Rulemaking which would restrict availability of housing for mixed families, that is, those where some members are lawfully present in the country and some who are not. Register for the webinar and find out more information here.

ICYMI – Learn More About Human Trafficking. The United States Department of State Council on Human Trafficking has released its 2019 annual report which is available for download here.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 276

President Trump Has Proposed Legislation To Change the Current Immigrations System. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Joe Vásquez, chair of the Committee on Migration, have taken exception to some of the proposals. In particular, USCCB seeks continued emphasis on family based immigration policies, not strictly merit based immigration. Catholic teaching has long supported the family as the basic building block of society. Quoting Pope Francis: “Family is the place in which we are formed as persons. Each family is a brick that builds society.” Furthermore, the bishops continue to support those currently protected by DACA and those who are legally in this country under Temporary Protected Status (TPS). See the complete statement here.

Do We Need More Border Security? The Administration seems to think that we do, but read this thoughtful article from the Center For Migration Studies.

Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board Dismantled. In 2011, the Georgia General Assembly established the Immigration Enforcement Review Board to consider complaints related to immigration enforcement compliance against local governments. The Board has been largely ineffective and Governor Kemp has signed legislation dissolving it. 

There’s An App For That! There is an app for everything, but how about an app to help integrate refugees and new comers into a new country. A graduate student at Washington State University is working on an application to help refugees integrate into England. Why could we not develop one for Georgia? Just a thought.

ICYMI — Trying to Help Immigrant or Refugee Children and Their Families But Don’t Know Where to Find Resources. There is a wealth of awesome resources from Bridging Refugee Youth and Children Services website https://brycs.org/

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 274

Questions About Citizenship? What does a legal permanent resident need to do to obtain U.S. citizenship? Go to a free citizenship clinic at Gwinnett College on May 11 to obtain information.

In addition, if you know a lawful permanent resident (“Green Card” holder) who talks about applying for citizenship, but never gets started, a free webinar from Justice for Immigrants might help you motivate him/her.

Gwinnett County 287(g) Participation. The federal program known as 287(g) authorizes a state law enforcement agency to enforce immigration laws. Not all county or city agencies in Georgia have chosen to participate, but the sheriff of Gwinnett County has announced that his Sheriff’s Department will actively participate. Currently, the counties of Cobb, Floyd, Gwinnett, Hall and Whitfield are the only participating counties in Georgia.

Bishops Opposing Rule Changes That Make Asylum More Difficult. Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso continues to speak out for the protection of immigrants. This time, he testified how the diocese and other border communities are serving asylum seekers. “It is an honor for the Church and for Christians in general to serve these vulnerable people…. We do not begrudge the opportunity, but our resources and our volunteers are being significantly strained by the scope and duration of the high arrival rates.”   See his full written testimony here.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) For Venezuelans. TPS was established by Congress through the Immigration Act of 1990 to protect foreign nationals in the United States from being returned to their home country if, during the time they were in the U.S., it became unsafe from violence, disease or death. Because of the political upheaval in Venezuela, the country should be designates for TPS to protect Venezuelans living in the United States, but the Administration has not yet acted. See more details here.

ICYMI – Have You Missed a Justice for Immigrants Webinar? Have no fear. JFI archives their webinars and makes them available to all.   

ICYMI – Want to Dig Into the Legal Details of Immigration? The best place to learn all the current immigration legal practice is CLINIC’s annual convening that will be held in Pittsburgh, PA from May 29 to 31.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 273

Stations of the Cross With Pope Francis. On Good Friday 2019, Pope Francis presided over the stations of the cross with meditations written by Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, 80, a long-time advocate against human trafficking. Read the text of the meditations and the closing prayer written by the Holy Father himself here.

Have You Missed a Justice for Immigrants Webinar? Have no fear. JFI archives their webinars and makes them available to all.

Citizenship Has Benefits. Do you know lawful permanent residents (“Green Card” holders) who talk about applying for citizenship but never get started. A free webinar from Justice for Immigrants might help you motivate them.

Want to Dig Into the Legal Details of Immigration? The best place to learn all the current immigration legal practice is CLINIC’s annual convening that will be held in Pittsburgh, PA from May 29 to 31.

Tax Season For Those Without Immigration Documentation. Even without documentation, taxes are due this time of the year. Many individuals without documentation do pay income tax either by filing returns or failing to claim over paid withholding. Why would they file returns and pay? Read more here.

What Is It Like On The Immigration Front Line? We hear a lot of statistics and arguments, but what is involved in working face to face with immigrants on the front lines of an immigration law practice? Read a reflection from a Miami Catholic Charities attorney.

Comprehensive Immigration Report No. 272

USCCB Chair Supports Federal Legislation to Extend Temporary Protective Status and To Give Path To Citizenship For Dreamers.  Speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joe Vásquezcontinues to advocate for a legislation benefiting immigrants. The bishop endorsed two pending bills that support hardworking individuals who have spent years of their live in the United States – Dreamers who were brought to this country as children and those who have contributed to our country after coming from countries ravaged by war or natural disasters. “We need a permanent legislative solution for those who have spent their lives contributing and living in the United States, the country they know as home.” 

ICYMI – Stations of the Cross – Rome or Atlanta. If you cannot join Pope Francis in Rome for the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, come to the urban Stations of the Cross sponsored by the Justice and Peace Ministries of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. The theme of the meditations will be human trafficking in the light of the Cross. Stations in Atlanta will begin at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 8:45 a.m. and end at the King Center. Get more information here.

Pope Francis has asked Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, 80, a long-time advocate against trafficking, to prepare the texts for the evening service.

“A Crime against Humanity.” Speaking to a Rome conference on migration, Pope Francis characterized human trafficking a “crime against humanity” and “an unjustifiable violation of the freedom and dignity of the victims.” Read more here.