Category Archives: Immigration

STATEMENT: Pax Christi USA official statement on the delay on an immigration plan

Pax Christi USA joins its voice with the many that had great hopes that President Obama, in September, would use his executive authority to address the broken U.S. immigration system as he had promised. Those hopes have been seriously dashed over the weekend by the President’s announcement that he will delay his decision until after the November elections, lest the decision have an impact on those seeking re-election. In essence, the President has yielded to political pressure and has bartered with the lives of immigrant children and families.  PCUSA finds this not only profoundly disappointing, but also unacceptable for a country that boasts such high ideals.

This delay simply means more hardship and suffering for those who have endured more than their share of trauma: threats of deportation for those who have lived here for years, returning children to countries of origin amidst death threats, the continuation of 1,000+ daily deportations and the inhumane conditions and screening at detention facilities.

We ask President Obama to have a change of mind and heart, to put an immediate end to splitting apart immigrant families, and to provide safety and care for the children who are alone.

TAKE ACTION: Urge your Senator to uphold protections for migrant women and children!

from the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

childrenattheborderbutton-smallBefore leaving for August Recess, the House of Representatives voted on a supplemental funding bill that beefs up border security instead of supporting the agencies most in need of additional funding—the ones that are providing for the basic needs of women and their children who are fleeing widespread violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The House also voted to strike down a key provision in the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008 that requires U.S. agencies to screen unaccompanied minors from Central America as possible victims of human trafficking. Expediting this process will ensure that many of the children will be sent back to their traffickers or to the violent, abusive situations from where they come. Already, children as young as 18-months are being brought to “rocket docket” hearings, without an attorney, in order to be quickly deported.

Now, the ball is in the Senate’s court and they need to know that although they have been on August Recess, their constituents continue to work to show hospitality to and stand in solidarity with migrants fleeing from violence and aggression, especially children who are traumatized and cannot advocate for themselves.

Call this number:  1-866-940-2439 to leave a message for your Senators.

Sample Script:

Hello, my name is [your name] and as a person of faith living in Senator [name]’s state, I am deeply concerned about the House of Representatives’ response to migrants fleeing violence in Central America. Women and children especially are targets for sexual abuse, aggression, and trafficking and need special protection.

It is for this reason that I urge you to uphold protections for children traveling alone from Central America in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008; to increase funding for humanitarian agencies that are responding to the basic needs of these refugees; and to not rush to deport migrants, especially women and children, who have legitimate claims for protection.

God calls us to act with compassion toward those who are suffering. I implore you to make this a moment of pride for our country.

IMMIGRATION: Faith, labor and rights organizations urge reform of border enforcement

from the Southern Border Communities Coalition

NOTE: Pax Christi USA signed onto this letter.

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Seventy-six organizations including the Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) and the American Civil Liberties Union delivered a letter in late August urging the Obama Administration to implement common-sense policy reforms in the borderlands as part of its “humane enforcement review” of the Department of Homeland Security.

The border regions are home to tens of millions of residents whose rights are frequently abused by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  President Obama must not perpetuate second-class status for border communities: the time is now for comprehensive reforms addressing CBP’s scope of authority, improved transparency, and critical oversight and accountability measures.

The letter outlines priority policy recommendations designed to reform CBP, the nation’s largest law enforcement agency which is in crisis due to systemic problems, including widespread excessive force and corruption.  Since 2010, for example, SBCC has tracked 29 incidents of deadly force by CBP officers and agents, yet not a single CBP agent has been held publicly accountable or prosecuted.

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

IMMIGRATION: Pax Christi member Bob Cooke does CD at White House

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More than 140 protesters, including Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore’s Bob Cooke, were arrested on August 28th outside the White House while staging a sit-down rally to demand protection from deportation for millions of illegal immigrants.

The demonstrators, representing more than 20 organizations, said the arrests were part of a civil disobedience campaign aimed at putting pressure on President Barack Obama to enact broad leniency for illegal immigrant families and workers as part of his announced review of U.S. immigration policies…

Read the entire article from The Washington Post by clicking here.

CHILDREN AT OUR BORDER: National religious leaders to Obama: “Don’t trade kids’ lives in immigration action”

National faith leaders urge Administration to preserve protections  for children in any upcoming executive actions on immigration

NOTE: Pax Christi USA Executive Director Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN signed onto this letter.

childrenattheborderbutton-smallWASHINGTON – Forty national religious leaders have delivered a succinct, one-sentence message to President Barack Obama urging him not to compromise the lives of children fleeing violence in Central America as the Administration considers its next steps on immigration.

With new reports of Honduran children being killed following their deportation from the U.S. and Mexico, this incredibly short message underscores the critical importance of protecting children and families seeking safety. The full letter reads:

While we celebrate the potential of executive action to alleviate the suffering caused by our nation’s broken immigration system – particularly in light of political inaction in Congress – it must not come at the cost of due process and access to humanitarian protection for children and families fleeing violence in Central America.

Following the sending of the letter, national leaders spoke on a press teleconference to stress the urgency of their message and why the Administration must not compromise on critical protections for children in any executive actions.

Click here to see the letter with signatories.

IMMIGRATION: Ann Coulter, Cardinal Dolan, and the discourse surrounding migrant children

by Scott Alessi, US Catholic

childrenattheborderbutton-smallThe waves of migrant children fleeing their homeland in search of safety and stability within the United States’ borders has been a major news story in recent months, but now it seems as if our public debate (or in some cases, shouting match) about the situation has become the bigger story.

Some Americans were ashamed and angered to see fellow citizens protesting the arrival of busloads of migrant women and children in California, chanting things like “go home” and “U-S-A” as the buses approached. Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert has called the children’s arrival an “invasion” and compared it to D-Day. We’ve even seen protesters use the slogan “Not our children, not our problem.”

Then came what the New York Times dubbed “the backlash to the backlash,” as religious leaders–especially Catholics–took a strong stand against this kind of rhetoric. The Catholic response to the migrants has been consistently one of welcome and aid, as Catholic Charities offices have been offering assistance along the borders and church leaders like Cardinal Francis George of Chicago have even offered up facilities to help house some of the children. Even Pope Francis weighed in, calling for unaccompanied child migrants to be “welcomed and protected” while condemning “racist and xenophobic attitudes” toward immigrants.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote a blog post expressing his shame over the crowds of angry protesters, saying of their actions, “It was un-American; it was un-biblical; it was inhumane.” Dolan called for the recognition of the human dignity of the migrants, repeating the same stance the U.S. bishops have held throughout the immigration debate. “We might argue and yell about policies, processes, and politics,” Dolan wrote, “(but) we can never argue about the dignity of the human person or the sacredness of life, or yell at people who need our help.”…

Click here to read the rest of the article.

CHILDREN AT OUR BORDER: Where is the compassion for the children at our border?

Lopez-Hughes-Dianeby Diane Lopez Hughes,
Pax Christi Illinois

In light of the current humanitarian crisis at our borders, each of us would do well to think like a parent.

Fleeing from hunger and violence in their home countries, we can only imagine how frightened the children must be, leaving behind everything they know to make the harsh and dangerous journey across Mexico to the U.S. border.

childrenattheborderbutton-smallImagine the terrifying conditions that must necessitate parents sending their children into life-threatening circumstances for the possibility of safety, security and a better future. How demoralizing it must be for some of the parents not to have the resources to feed their children or insure their safety, For their parents who already are here, how hard it must be to make the decision to send children on this grueling journey.

The problem is not new. In June 2008, during the Bush administration, I had an opportunity to travel to Guatemala with Witness for Peace for the purpose of learning about the roots of migration from Central America to the United States.

One 13-year-old teen shared his story of detention. It sounded similar to the conditions we hear about today: a lack of health care and only minimal food and water offered to those detained. At that time, many of the detention facilities were run by the same private mega-industry that warehouses U.S. prisoners today…

Read this entire article by clicking here.