Category Archives: Human Rights

TAKE ACTION: Protect deserving, carefully vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees and their families fleeing violence and death

from Justice for Immigrants

jfiBackground: In the aftermath of the violent attacks on Paris, 31 governors made public statements that they wanted resettlement of Syrian refugees halted in their states. Days later, the U.S. House of Representatives, with comparable intentions, passed H.R. 4038, The American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which would effectively halt all resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States for a protracted time.

The week after Thanksgiving, the same bill or similar legislation will likely be introduced and voted on in the U.S. Senate, and even worse legislation may continue to be introduced. Meanwhile, some federal lawmakers may also try to use the Omnibus appropriations bill that must be passed by December 11th as a vehicle for securing passage of the SAFE Act or similar legislation.

On November 17th, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement which said, in part, “I am disturbed…by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.”…

Click here to read this full alert and take action now.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Israeli occupation is all this generation has known

by Drew Christiansen and Ra’fat Aldajani, NCR

Mural at Aida Refugee Camp, West Bank

Mural at Aida Refugee Camp, West Bank

The latest upsurge of violence in Israel/Palestine has raised fears that a third Palestinian intifada is breaking out. In just this past month, eight Israelis and 42 Palestinians have been killed in the Jerusalem area alone. News coverage in the United States has largely adopted the Israeli government’s narrative of the violence — Palestinians, enraged by incitement in their media regarding malevolent Israeli intentions for the Haram Sharif/Temple Mount compound, have reacted violently by embarking on a spate of knife attacks against Israelis.

Knife attacks against Israeli civilians are horrific and deserve the condemnation that they receive. However, these attacks do not occur in a vacuum, independent of the wider context in which they periodically flare up. Focusing narrowly and exclusively on one element of a much larger complicated and nuanced issue neither addresses the cause nor protects Israelis from future violence.

Instead, it serves only to further delay the possibility of any durable and serious resolution to the conflict, allows Israel to react to the violence in disproportionate ways that further fuels the cycle of violence between the two sides, and continues the dangerous slide from a political conflict that is resolvable to a religious one that is not.

Although the stabbings are a new element and Palestinian protests are an old story, the protests today involve a post-Oslo (1995) generation of Palestinians who never experienced the brief hope that Oslo brought. Instead, this new generation, in their teens and early 20s, has grown up experiencing nothing but stifling and often brutal Israeli occupation, settler violence and an impotent Palestinian Authority it barely relates to.

This current wave of violence wasn’t unexpected: in September 2015, 44.5 percent of Israelis polled said that they believed a third Palestinian intifada would break out within a year if there is no progress towards peace…

Read the rest of this article by clicking here.

REFUGEES: Pax Christi USA ED signs onto letter calling on Congress to welcome Syrian refugees of all faiths

Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees

Pax Christi USA’s Executive Director Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN signed onto a letter to Congress calling on the United States to welcome Syrian refugees from all faith traditions. The letter has more than 400 signatories thus far, and is being sent to the Senate and House in advance of hearings and discussions around refugee resettlement and Syrian refugees. The letter was initiated by Church World Service.

Click here to read the letter.

SYRIA: Pax Christi USA signs onto letter to help Syrian refugees

refugeesPax Christi USA recently signed on to an organizational letter to help Syrian refugees being circulated by the Refugee Council USA. The letter was sent to President Obama.

The letter reads, in part:

Our recommendations are as follows:

1. In light of the continuing escalation of the dire refugee crises in the Middle East, contributing to the largest number of refugees since World War II, we urge the United States to increase the number of refugees that we resettle to 200,000 for FY 16, with 100,000 of them being Syrian. This would not be the first time that the United States proudly carries out our historic tradition of welcoming refugees in large numbers. After the end of the wars in Southeast Asia, the United States resettled 111,000 Vietnamese refugees in 1979 and then essentially doubled that number to 207,000 in 1980. The United States’ rising to the occasion now would both encourage European nations to live up to their refugee protection obligations, and help to prevent further deterioration in the protection climate in the countries bordering on Syria that are currently hosting millions of Syrian refugees…

To read the entire letter, click here.

IMMIGRATION: Pax Christi USA signs onto solidarity letter in support of pro-immigrant policies

Pax Christi USA has signed onto this letter being circulated by the Immigrant Justice Network.

Justice and dignity for all immigrantsOur organizations stand behind the hundreds of state and local policies protecting localities from intrusive collusion, monitoring, and policing by federal immigration authorities.

These policies emerged after years of reasonable discussion and debate amongst community groups, local officials, and police and sheriff departments, as hundreds of cities, towns and states grappled with the harm of deportation programs, like the failed Secure Communities (S-Comm) now renamed the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP). Our communities rightly concluded that local pro-immigrant policies not only protect public safety and constitutional rights—they are integral to fostering diverse and thriving communities.

The scapegoating of immigrant communities and attacks on local pro-immigrant policies and the officials who enacted them reflects a hardening racism and xenophobia in American politics that we must eliminate, not foster. These attacks may score some political points in the short-term but strike against good governance and inclusive democracy…

Click here to read the entire letter.

SYRIA: Waves of displaced Syrians only “tip of the iceberg” in larger crisis

from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor

Geneva – As EU officials continue to squabble over how to respond to the growing wave of migrants and refugees, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor is releasing an in-depth report using Lebanon as a case study of the larger crisis increasingly facing the global community.


“Most of the current debate has focused on the immediate crisis of the moment: how to stop smugglers and which countries should accept how many asylum seekers,” states the executive summary of the report. “However, there is an ever-growing problem that in the long run will exact an even higher price: the expanding proportion of refugees and forced migrants for whom displacement has become a chronic state.  In fact, the average period of time that a refugee spends out of his or her country now is 10 years.”

The Euro-Med report focuses on Lebanon because it now hosts more refugees per capita than any other country in the world (232 per 1,000 inhabitants), as well as the oldest population of long-term refugees (the Palestinians, living in limbo for 60 years now).

“Syria is currently the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people and refugees,” notes Pam Bailey, the researcher for Euro-Med who compiled the report. “And Lebanon is home to an estimated 1.5 million of these refugees—the highest per capita number of all the countries serving as haven. This huge influx is stressing local economies and generating xenophobia in Lebanon and other host countries, thus intensifying the drive to take tremendous risks by crossing the Mediterranean to try their chances in Europe.”…

Click here to read the rest of the story and the report.