Undocumented K through 12 Children. As schools in Georgia re-open, keep in mind that they cannot require proof of immigration status for admission to grades K through 12. If children are denied admission, parents must be encouraged to demand admission so that their children can receive the education which will help them progress.
Pope Francis Has Texas Immigrants on His Mind. “Always look towards the horizon, don’t let life put walls in front of you.” As Pope Francis departed from Rome for World Youth Day, he sent a message to young immigrants in Texas who were unable to travel to Poland. Read the whole story: https://cruxnow.com/world-youth-day-krakow/2016/07/27/pope-francis-leaves-poland-hes-thinking-texas/.
Refugees or Asylees Seeking Answers About Citizenship. Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) has made available an innovative way for refugees and asylees to learn about obtaining citizenship – through texting on their telephones. #text4refugees Get more information at https://cliniclegal.org/citizenshipnavigator/texting.
Case Backlog Affects Immigration Court Cases. The case backlog in Immigration Court continues to increase despite efforts to recruit and train new judges and court personnel http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/07/20/federal-immigration-court-backlog-tops-500000-pending-cases.html. Delays can hurt the prosecution of cases but may also help some who continue to wait with no resolution. Cases may languish for seven or eight years and, by then, the character of the case may have changed. Over 500,000 cases are now waiting action.
ICYMI -Attorneys for Immigration Court. When it is necessary to appear in Immigration Court (or any court), the potential for success is much, much better if you have a qualified attorney. Here, however, is guidance created in Spanish for the Immigrant Justice Corps to distribute at the New York City Immigration Court to the Central American asylum-seeking mothers and children in deportation proceedings. This guidance is helpful for all. https://cliniclegal.org/sites/default/files/cara/EL%20PROCESO%20EN%20LA%20CORTE%20DE%20INMIGRACI%C3%93N.pdf
U.S. vs. Texas – DAPA and Expanded DACA Still Await Supreme Court Action. The Supreme Court’s decision regarding the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA will likely come in the next two weeks. What are the options for those who may be affected? Look at this useful flow chart from the National Immigration Law Center for a summary of options: http://www.nilc.org/how-to-prepare-for-us-v-texas/. Pay particular attention to suggestions to protect yourself: http://www.nilc.org/protectyourself/.
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey Continues to Resonate. Read this interesting reflection in the June edition of St. Anthony’s Messenger: http://ht.ly/FkSb30134fv.
Law Students and Young Lawyers. Legal training can benefit immigrants. The chances of a favorable outcome in immigration court are immeasurably increased when a client has qualified legal assistance. Read a success story at https://cliniclegal.org/news/detention-asylum-undocumented-immigrants/guest-blog-more-grade-how-our-salvadoran-asylum-client.
DACA Anniversary. It has been four years since U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, initiative so that unauthorized immigrants who came to the country before age 16; were under age 31 at the time of the announcement; and had been in the country for five years when the initiative was announced are eligible to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit. More than 728,000 people have received DACA, out of an estimated 1.16 million people who are currently eligible to apply. The ongoing Supreme Court case does not affect the original DACA program. If you know anyone eligible for DACA, encourage them to apply as soon as possible.
Pope Francis has a Dream. Evoking the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope Francis said “I dream of a Europe where being a migrant is not a crime, but a summons to greater commitment” to help those in need. The Holy Father has been a consistent and visible advocate for migrants even in the face of widespread migration in Europe, a situation which is much more extensive than undocumented immigration in the United States https://cnstopstories.com/2016/05/06/pope-tells-struggling-europe-he-has-a-dream-for-its-future/.
H-2B Visas. Congress members from states that rely on immigrant labor are seeking to include language in this year’s federal funding bills to renew controversial provisions from last year’s omnibus spending measure that effectively quadrupled the number of low-skilled worker visas. The provisions may not help those already in the United States but may provide a secure though temporary path for some seeking work in the United States. Any expansion that affects foreign workers will be controversial in Congress http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/h2b-riders-222737#ixzz47ssaJv5D.
Graduation … Then What? Graduation from high school, college or any other program always brings joy as well as apprehension for students as they prepare for the next stage of their lives. For undocumented students or even those on student visas, the planning is complicated by their status under immigration law http://thedailycougar.com/2016/04/27/immigrants-have-a-reason-to-fear-a-republican-president/. As with all planning, it is important to face issues head-on and get solid advice. In the case of non-citizens residing in the United States, that advice should include legal advice to seek ways of avoiding future problems.
Pope Francis. On his short trip to the island of Lesbos, the Holy Father used both words and actions to demonstrate his commitment to a humane resolution to migration issues. As he left the meeting, he arranged to bring twelve refugees to Rome on his plane https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-francis-arrives-on-lesbos-in-visit-intended-to-prick-europes-conscience/2016/04/16/b0a66c08-fd09-11e5-813a-90ab563f0dde_story.html. Indeed, the whole trip was a plea for mercy and a moral challenge to Europe and the United States. For Pope Francis, the trip was not about politics but humanitarian values https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/pope-francis-to-lay-down-a-moral-challenge-for-europe-in-visit-to-refugee-island/2016/04/15/2f5c86aa-fd09-11e5-813a-90ab563f0dde_story.html. Refugees are a gift, not a problem http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2016/refugees-are-not-a-problem-they-are-a-gift-pope-says.cfm.
U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of United States v. Texas on April 18. By the end of June, the Court is expected to decide whether the Administration can implement the DAPA and expanded DACA programs. The media expressed many opinions trying to decipher how the Court might rule but, in reality, no one outside the Court knows the answer. Archbishop John Wester of New Mexico, however, put forward the reality of the case in an article describing the people who are behind the legal rhetoric http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/18/opinions/obama-immigration-actions-supreme-court-wester/.
Pope Francis. On April 16, Pope Francis travelled to the island of Lesbos, a central arrival point for migrants and refugees in Greece, to highlight his concerns for those people and others throughout the world. He joined with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens to show the universal importance of caring for migrating people. The trip had a humanitarian, not political, emphasis http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2016/04/15/pope-francis-aims-to-cash-in-political-muscle-with-stop-in-greece/ ; http://americamagazine.org/content/all-things/popes-trip-lesbos-teaching-moment-europe?utm_content=buffer14538&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer.
Family Detention Center, Dilly, Texas. It seems to have dropped from the headlines but here is a first person account from a volunteer lawyer helping women and children detained in the largest immigrant detention center in the United States. The article gives a real flavor for the place https://medium.com/@clairerthomas/how-to-pack-for-the-other-refugee-crisis-a6c4775a7661#.7bukf2ss5.
Act Locally. Take inspiration from parishioners of Holy Trinity Church in Peachtree City who have answered the plea of Pope Francis to sponsor refugees by adopting a family of 11 fleeing persecution in Myanmar. Read the Georgia Bulletin article http://www.georgiabulletin.org/news/2016/03/plight-refugees-touches-hearts-holy-trinity-church-leading-action/.
Act Internationally. Deacons Bill Hampton and Steve Swope joined others in volunteering with Catholic Relief Services in Athens, Greece, and Belgrade, Serbia, in January http://www.myajc.com/news/news/national-govt-politics/georgians-travel-to-the-front-lines-of-syrian-refu/nq2X9/.
U.S. Supreme Court. The long awaited argument in the case of United States v. Texas will be held on April 18. By the end of June, the Court is expected to decide whether the Administration can implement the DAPA and expanded DACA programs.
Pope Francis. Pope Francis continues to focus the world’s eyes on the refugee crisis around the world. On April 16, the Holy Father will visit the island of Lesbos which is the epicenter of the refugee crisis in Europe http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-to-visit-the-greek-island-of-lesbos. Care for refugees and migrants is a hall mark of Pope Francis’ ministry.
Protests at Georgia Universities. More than 90 protesters from a dozen colleges — including U.S. citizens and people who were illegally brought here as children — had joined sit-ins at UGA, Georgia Tech and Georgia State University. All three schools are closed to immigrants without legal status under a policy covering state institutions that have not admitted all academically qualified applicants for the two most recent school years http://ht.ly/108qhp.
Holy Week Pilgrimage In Georgia. For the eighth year, about 40 people joined a pilgrimage to focus on the plight of those in immigration detention. The pilgrimage started in Macon and finished by joining the Good Friday urban ecumenical Stations of the Cross sponsored by the Archdiocese Office of Justice and Peace Ministries http://www.georgiabulletin.org/news/2016/03/eighth-year-holy-week-walk-focuses-immigrants-detention/.
U.S. Supreme Court. During the past week the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected a legal effort to reinterpret the “one person, one vote” constitutional rule by ruling that states may rely on total population when drawing their legislative districts. Plaintiffs sought to reinterpret longstanding precedence to require that only registered voters be included in the population, thus, diluting the significance of non-voting adults, children, non-citizens and others http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/04/evenwel-ruling-supreme-court/470280/.
Words Are Important. Following a petition by several student groups from Dartmouth College, the Library of Congress has agreed that is will no longer use the terms “illegal” or “alien” to describe immigrants http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/30/politics/library-of-congress-illegal-alien/index.html.
IMPORTANT – ICYMI If You Are Eligible, Become a U.S. Citizen. It can be a long and difficult journey but, if you are eligible, give serious consideration to becoming a citizen of the United States. Read the perspective of someone who see thousands of people arriving in this country every day for a variety of purposes. http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article67840232.html
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.
Pope Francis Continues to Reflect on the Migration of Peoples. Pope Francis spoke of the sufferings caused migrant people because of “closed door and closed hearts” https://cnstopstories.com/2016/03/16/closed-doors-hearts-cause-suffering-to-innocent-migrants-pope-says/. The Pope reminded all that even in apparent abandonment, God is always present. “The true and radical return from exile and the comforting light after the darkness of the crisis of faith is fulfilled in Easter, in the full and definitive experience of the love of God, a merciful love that gives joy, peace and eternal life,” he said.
Also, in a powerful symbolic gesture that is sure to resonate across the globe from Europe to the United States and Australia, Pope Francis will wash the feet of 12 refugees on Holy Thursday in Rome http://ht.ly/ZxOPx.
St. Patrick was a Refugee and Immigrant to Ireland. We often speak of the contributions of immigrants to the United States and elsewhere but the Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Emmon Martin, reminded his people that St. Patrick came as an immigrant but ultimately brought untold grace to all Ireland http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2016/03/16/message-for-saint-patricks-day-2016-from-archbishop-eamon-martin-2/.
Immigrants Need to Pay Taxes. Regardless of one’s immigrations status, those who earn money in the United States must pay income taxes. Remind those with whom you are working of this requirement. https://cliniclegal.org/tax-preparation-assistance
Georgia Proposed Legislation. As expected, several adverse immigration bills made progress in the Georgia General Assembly.
As of this writing, neither SB 6 which would require restricted driver licenses nor SR 675 which would propose a constitutional amendment limiting the use of non-English languages in government activity have advanced in the General Assembly.
The State Senate is still waiting to consider HB 781 (which is now identified as SB 83) 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.
Pope Francis In Mexico. It is very difficult to summarize the Holy Father’s apostolic visit to Mexico. Pope Francis addressed many issues pertinent to Catholic life in Mexico and met with political and Church leaders. Among the issues getting media attention in the United States was the migration issue in general and the issue of immigration into the United States. The most significant event related to immigration was Mass and surrounding event occurred at Ciudad Juarez and was supported by others across the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas. See the Catholic News Service Report at https://cnstopstories.com/2016/02/18/pope-francis-vips-gather-in-el-paso-to-welcome-pope-to-u-s-mexico-border/ There are also multiple additional reports of the Pope’s visit from Catholic News Service, America Magazine, CLINIC and others. http://americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/pope-border-juarez-prayer-migrants
Georgia Proposed Legislation. The Rules Committee of the Georgia State Senate has recommended a constitutional amendment to make English the official language of State government. SR 675, if adopted by the General Assembly and favorably voted upon by the electorate would declare English as the official language of the State of Georgia; provide that official state actions be in English; prohibit any requirement that any language other than English be used in any documents, regulations, orders, transactions, proceedings, meetings, programs, or publications; and prohibit discrimination, penalties, or other limits on participation against persons who speak only English.
Pope Francis In Mexico. Pope Francis has begun his apostolic trip to Mexico. While he may touch on many issues during the trip, migration from Central America through Mexico and immigration into the United States are prime topics. In an interview, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, Texas, made the point: “It’s not wrong to think the pope is coming to the border to make a statement about the human dignity of immigrants,” acknowledging that such a statement has clear political consequences http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2016/02/08/el-paso-bishop-says-popes-border-stop-is-pastoral-but-with-a-political-edge/?s_campaign=crux:rss?s_campaign=crux:email:ja.
Georgia Proposed Legislation. The Georgia General Assembly has been in session for sixteen of its forty legislative days and there has been little discussion of issues directly related to immigrants. Nonetheless, we are keeping watch over several bills that could impact immigrant peoples. For example, Senator Josh McKoon has proposed legislation to create a new driver’s license for DACA recipients to brand them as “illegal aliens.” http://news.wabe.org/post/ga-senator-wants-separate-driver-cards-illegal-aliens. We are also watching a constitutional amendment to make English the official language of Georgia.
ICYMI -Citizenship. For those who are eligible, advocates encourage immigrants to seek U.S. citizenship. Among the benefits of citizenship is the right to vote and, thus, impact public policy. http://ht.ly/XTpW4; http://ht.ly/XNRqt