Category Archives: Human Rights

IMMIGRATION: PCUSA signs onto letter to stop deportations

547712_10151386507149157_1947364312_nPax Christi USA signed onto the letter below, being circulated by the United Methodist Church, asking President Obama to take action to stop deportations.

Dear President Barack Obama,

Your Administration has now deported two million individuals. The mass number of deportations comes in spite of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memorandum, issued in 2011 regarding prosecutorial discretion with the purpose of focusing resources on individuals who pose a threat to public safety. The prosecutorial discretion policy has not worked.

We are dismayed that record levels of deportations continue, including valued members of our congregations and communities. Many individuals continue to be apprehended, detained, and placed into removal proceedings despite exhibiting severe vulnerabilities. These include individuals who are parenting children, who have severe mental health issues, and who are survivors of torture or persecution. Further, we recognize that many of those who have been deported would likely have been eligible for citizenship under most of the immigration reform bills currently being considered in Congress.

Mass deportations have not created public safety. On the contrary, they have terrorized entire communities through separating families and creating fear and distrust of law enforcement officials. Mass deportations have not brought about momentum for immigration reform in the House. Movement has stalled and deportations serve no purpose in the drive for genuine, solution-based reform. Therefore, we ask for the deportations to stop.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy has been largely successful for the individual beneficiaries, their communities and the nation. We urge the Administration to renew DACA status for those who have it, to extend the application timeline, and to implement a similar process for the family members of DACA recipients and for all undocumented immigrants who make contributions to their communities. These contributions should include parents of minor children, regardless of immigration status; those who volunteer in local organizations in their communities; those who serve or provide assistance to others in need; those who hold memberships in congregations or places of worship; those who might have criminal records in the past but who have showed a change in character and behavior; and those with criminal records or who are currently incarcerated, but who have participated in victim/offender mediation programs. Expanded DACA recipients should also include those who are unable to work due to social, physical, or emotional challenges. We also urge the Administration to include DACA recipients in Affordable Care Act implementation and to clarify that DACA recipients should not be restricted by state policies or practices from receiving driver’s licenses or access to higher education.

Only by instituting this kind of open and transparent process can healing come to a community that has suffered so much under the past five years.

IMMIGRATION REFORM: Pax Christi USA signs onto letter opposing private prisons

Pax Christi USA has added its endorsement to a sign-on letter being circulated from Grassroots Leadership. The letter expresses that the signatories oppose any additional funding for Bureau of Prisons-contracted “Criminal Alien Requirement” private prisons.  

“We, the undersigned organizations working to ensure civil liberties and human rights in our communities, urge that you do not appropriate funding for any additional Bureau of Prison ‘Criminal Alien Requirement’ (CAR) contract confinement beds beyond those that now exist,” the letter begins.

It goes on to say, “CAR prisons use taxpayer funds to incarcerate non-violent, ‘low security’ federal immigrant prisoners, primarily prosecuted for immigration violations through the highly controversial program, ‘Operation Streamline’ and related prosecution programs. These facilities are substandard, privately-owned, privately-operated segregated immigrant prisons. For the reasons set forth below, we call upon you to redirect funding from the wasteful prosecution and incarceration of low-level immigration violations and focus resources instead on correctional programs that will better prepare federal prisoners for constructive lives when they are released from confinement…”

For more information, visit http://grassrootsleadership.org/.

PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL: 2014 Peace Award recipient named

pcilogonewfrom Pax Christi International

The 2014 Pax Christi International Peace Award has been granted to the Jesuit Refugee Service Syria (JRS Syria) for its outstanding dedication in providing emergency relief to Syrians since the war began in 2011.

Established in 1988, the Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honours contemporary individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and non-violence in different parts of the world.

JRS Syria belongs to an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS programmes are found in more than 50 countries, providing assistance to refugees in camps and cities, individuals displaced within their own countries, asylum seekers in cities and to those held in detention centres.

In the Middle East and North Africa, JRS began its work in 2008 in response to the huge number of Iraqi refugees fleeing the conflict in their country. Following the violent events in Syria from 2011 onwards, JRS Syria is now mainly focusing on emergency relief to those in greatest need, medical support and educational activities to enhance reconciliation and co-existence amongst people of different socio-economic and faith backgrounds…

Click here for more information on the award.

 

REFLECTION: Millions of refugees with no place to call home

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

Emergency: Syria! Emergency: South Sudan! Emergency: Democratic Republic of the Congo!  These are the alarming messages being displayed on the homepage of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (www.unhcr.org).

According to the UNHCR, Syria has more people forcibly displaced than any country on earth. Over 9 million Syrians have been uprooted from their homes due to civil war – over 2.5 million of them have fled to neighboring countries as refugees. And most distressing, more than half of the displaced are children.

Syrian refugees protest against President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian refugees protest against President Bashar al-Assad.

In South Sudan, UNHCR reports the civil war and growing food shortages there has led to approximately 2,000 people crossing into nearby countries per day. Many of these refugees have been arriving exhausted, nutritionally weak and in poor health.

According to UNHCR, armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has caused about 450,000 people to cross into neighboring countries as refugees.

And armed conflict in the Central African Republic has created a refugee population of more than 312,000. While its number of refugees is not the continent’s largest, the violence there is so overwhelming that Steve Hilbert, foreign policy advisor for Africa at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, believes it is Africa’s most desperate nation.

These tragic examples highlight the massive refugee crisis throughout much of the world. While many poorer countries are stretching their meager resources to accept and aid refugees, most rich nations are not adequately responding.

For example, UNHCR reports that Lebanon continues to host nearly 1 million refugees from Syria, while according to legislative specialist Jill Marie Gerschutz-Bell of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. took in only 30 Syrian refugees in 2013. She said CRS is urging the Obama administration to allow 15,000 Syrians into the U.S. this coming year.

The number of Syrian refugees hosted in Lebanon would be equivalent to over 73 million refugees in the U.S, reports UNHCR.

Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explained that the U.S. must set the example, so that other rich nations will follow. He said we need to significantly increase financial refugee assistance to the UNHCR, and allow many more of the world’s refugees into our nation.

Appleby said on average the U.S. takes in 60,000 refugees per year. He noted that during the height of the Vietnam War the U.S. took in 132,000 Vietnamese in a single year. He said the U.S. could easily take in at least 100,000 annually.

Please email and call your two U.S. senators and congressperson (Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121) urging them to significantly increase funding for international humanitarian assistance. Such an increase would provide much needed added assistance to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees’ efforts in aiding refugees.

Also, urge your congressional delegation to push for a significant expansion of the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. each year.

You can provide additional help to refugees by sending a check to Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, Md. 21203-7090. Kindly earmark your check “refugee aid.” Or you can donate online http://crs.org/donate/.

Soon to be canonized Pope John Paul II said, “Concern for refugees must … highlight universally recognized human rights,” and “that the effective recognition of these rights be guaranteed to refugees.”

During Lent, when are called to remember the poor in a special way, we would do well to remember that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were once refugees.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. Please contact your diocesan newspaper and request that they carry Tony’s column. Tony is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

TAKE ACTION: Ask the USCCB to support undocumented mother

from Dream Activist

Herminia Gallego, an undocumented mother from Arizona is now seeking sanctuary inside the Tucson’s Saint Augustine Cathedral Parish. Herminia made this decision because of recent retaliation from ICE in response to her advocating against the wrongful detention of her 20 year old daughter, Rosy Rojas.

sanctuary2Just three days ago, during visitation at the Eloy Detention Center, Herminia was told she would be banned from visiting her daughter for 2 months. She was told this ban was a result of her recently launching a 14-day hunger strike to bring help get attention to Rosy. “I don’t know why they are doing this to me, I just want my Rosy home.”

Rosy’s only hope is to have the support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. As it happens there are 8 U.S. Bishops currently right here in Arizona, they have come here as part of the Conference’s Committee on Migrants.

Click here and ASK THE U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS TO SUPPORT ROSY ROJA’S IMMEDIATE RELEASE.