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 (email@example.com).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Stay Up to Date on Executive Orders. Although the status of executive orders related to immigration changes frequently, avoid rumors and panic. Follow webinars from the Catholic bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign. http://justiceforimmigrants.org/news/webinar-executive-order-dhs-memoranda/
Advocacy Actions. While waiting for governmental action from Washington, there are actions that can be taken now, with some being more than writing to Congress. http://justiceforimmigrants.org/2016site/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/WHAT-YOU-CAN-DO-3.1.17-FINAL.pdf
Local Governments Have an Impact on Immigrants. Comprehensive immigration reform must come from the federal government, but the lives of immigrants and community life can be helped by local action. Take time to join a webinar discussing local government activities on Wednesday, March 8. https://cliniclegal.org/civicrm/event/info?id=546&reset=1
Who Are the Refugees and Asylum Seekers? Support refugees and asylum seekers through encountering their stories. Look for the faces of migration. http://justiceforimmigrants.org/faces-of-migration/stories-of-migration/
Easter in a Detention Center. While some children hunt Easter eggs at the White House, advocacy groups will be directing attention toward the children and mothers who the United States government is harshly keeping in detention centers http://us8.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d1e29c8d7ab34d84237ecd8ee&id=d74478c189&e=dc6326b6e0.
Research Contradicts Political Claims. Candidates for public office are making many claims related to immigrants but objective research produces different results. For example, even though comprehensive immigration reform remains stalled in Congress, not everyone opposes a path to citizenship http://ht.ly/ZQEn5.
Pope Francis Speaks to Refugees and Migrants During Holy Week. On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis washed the feet of several refugees, including Muslims, Hindus and Copts https://cnstopstories.com/2016/03/24/pope-to-refugees-despite-differences-all-people-are-gods-children/. There is a video on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVjHt13RJ9A.
Georgia Proposed Legislation. As we had hoped, the General Assembly did not adopt either SB 6 which would have required restricted driver licenses or SR 675 which would have proposed a constitutional amendment limiting the use of non-English languages in government activity.
The General Assembly did, however, adopt to allow State and local governments to appoint as members of policy making bodies only persons who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and legal residents of the State of Georgia.
The General Assembly also adopted SB 269 which will make it mandatory, rather than optional, that certification is required for local governments to comply with the previously enacted sanctuary cities policy.