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.
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).
Important – ICYMI – Protect Archdiocesan Ministries! Please carefully read and heed Archbishop Gregory’s letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese regarding House Bill 605, now pending in the Georgia General Assembly. If it passes, it can affect our services to immigrants as well as others in need.
The Journey Continues. Please remember Share the Journey, the two year campaign initiated by Pope Francis, to draw world-wide attention to our migrating sisters and brothers. It is not too late to join the journey! Even the Lenten toolkit is still available. Chose whatever your parish or community feels called to do.
Pray the Stations of the Cross. Please pray the Stations of the Cross as we approach Holy Week, as well as written meditations related to human trafficking. Jesus began earthly life as a refugee from oppression and His passion and death brought Him to the peripheries of society.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Re-Interviews. USCIS is sending refugees notices to appear for interviews. If you or someone you know receives a notice, do not ignore it. Seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney. Read this information sheet to prepare for the interview.
Protect Archdiocesan Ministries! Please carefully read and heed Archbishop Gregory’s letter to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Atlanta regarding House Bill 605 now pending in the Georgia General Assembly. If it passes, it can affect our services to immigrants and others in need.
Congratulations to Sister Norma Pimentel! The University of Notre Dame announced that Sister Norma Pimentel will be awarded the prestigious Laetare Medal for her work with migrants. Pope Francis commended her by name in conjunction with his pilgrimage to the United State in 2015.
Important Information for Burmese Refugees. If you are a Burmese refugee or work with one and have received a strange letter that appears to be from the government, please click here to read an update from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).
National Catholic Call Congress for Dreamers Day. On February 26, over 48,000 Catholics called their congress representatives and senators to support Dreamers. If you did not get a chance to do it, there is still time to have your voice heard.
The Border is a Place for Encounter, Not a Place for Violence. As bishop of the border city of El Paso, Bishop Mark Seitz continued his advocacy work for Dreamers in Washington last week.
DACA and the Federal Government Shutdown. As of this writing, the federal government is in shutdown mode and the proposed DACA legislation is reputed to be the main sticking point. Follow the media for any changes.
National Migration Week Is Over, But Needs Remain. National Migration Week was January 7 to 14, but we still need to share the journeys of others. Pope Francis initiated the “Share the Journey” campaign as a two-year program. Stay current with the issues and find ways to participate. Information on National Migration week is still available online.
Pope Francis Calls on Unseen Warriors. Pope Francis called on “unseen warriors” – cloistered contemplative religious – to pray in a spirit of missionary prayer for those engaged in direct outreach to the poor, suffering and marginalized. Even those of us who do not live in a cloister must keep a spirit of prayer for all migrating peoples, particularly those in the United States during this time of political turmoil related to immigration policy.
Advocating For Immigrants and Refugees. Learn what you can do to support immigrants and refugees by attending the Catholic Charities USA webinar on Tuesday, January 23.
Georgia General Assembly Has Completed Six of Its Forty Legislative Days. As usual, the first few weeks of the General Assembly have shown little public activity. Nonetheless, we expect the tempo to pick up. Two areas of prospective legislative activity include restricting driver licenses for non U.S. citizens and a constitutional amendment requiring all state documents be written only in English.
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.
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.
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/
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