Category Archives: Immigration

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.

REFLECTION: Pope Francis – “It’s violence to build walls to keep out people seeking peace”

from Zenit

Pope Francis at the apartheid wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories

Pope Francis at the apartheid wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Pope Francis says that it is “violence” to build walls to keep out those seeking peace, and to widen the gulf between those who have so much they waste what’s extra and those who lack what they need.

The Pope said this in a message dated Aug. 29 and directed to the International Meeting for Peace, organized each year by the Sant’Egidio Community.

The meetings, as Pope Francis’ message recalled, follow in the wake “traced by Saint John Paul II with the first historic Meeting of Assisi in October of 1986. Since then a pilgrimage of men and women of different religions has developed.”

This year’s meeting was held in Tirana, Albania, and the Pope’s message recalled his own visit there.

“In no other country of the world was the decision so strong to exclude God from the life of a people: just one religious sign was enough to be punished with prison if not death. This very sad primacy marked the Albanian people profoundly, until the moment of their rediscovered freedom, when the members of the different religious communities, tried by the common suffering endured, met again to live together in peace,” he said.

Living together in peace is the spirit of Assisi, the Pope said, adding that “prayer is always at the root of peace!”…

Click here to read the entire article.

REFLECTION: Millions of refugees have no place to call home

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

The heartbreaking photo of the little Syrian refugee boy washed up dead on the shore of Bodrum, Turkey (see picture: strikingly illustrates the tragic plight of desperate refugees – mostly Syrian – fleeing for their lives from the Islamic State and other violent groups in the Middle East and Africa.

The 3-year-old boy, named Aylan, along with his 5-year-old brother, Galip, and their mother, Rehan, drowned after the raft carrying them capsized near the Turkish coast.

Millions of refugees are scrambling to escape from the life-threatening civil wars plaguing several countries from Nigeria to Pakistan.


According to the British newspaper The Independent, half of Syria’s population – approximately 11 million people – have been forced to flee; with four million living as refugees in foreign nations. And approximately 2.6 million Iraqis have been displaced, both due to civil wars and the barbarism of the Islamic State.

Matt Wilch, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) refugee policy advisor for Migration and Refugee Service, told me that of the four million Syrian refugees, 1.8 million are being hosted by Turkey, Jordan has 1 million, Egypt has 200,000, tiny Lebanon is hosting over 1 million, and ironically even war-torn Iraq has opened its doors to 200,000 Syrians.

But according to U.S. State Department figures, since March of 2011 – when the Syrian conflict started – only 1,554 Syrians have been admitted through the U.S. refugee resettlement program. This is shameful.

Wealthy Europe and the U.S. have a moral obligation to offer far more help.

Germany is providing an excellent example here. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that any Syrian arriving in Germany would be granted asylum.

With 800,000 refugees expected to arrive in Germany before year’s end, Merkel has been urging Germans to rise to the challenge. She said, “There can be no tolerance of those who question the dignity of other people.”

Wilch said if the U.S. and other wealthy nations would provide much more aid to Syria’s neighboring nations, not only would refugees be able to benefit from improved services, but most would not feel compelled to take the long dangerous journey to Europe.

Wilch said only 37 percent of the needs of refugees are being funded in these neighboring host countries.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, approximately 2,500 people have perished en route to Europe since the beginning of this year alone.

The USCCB is urging Congress to increase the number of refugees allowed in the U.S. to 200,000 annually – 100,000 from Syria and 100,000 from other nations. Please contact your congressional delegation urging them to honor the bishops’ plea. And urge them to greatly increase aid to the Middle East nations hosting millions of refugees. The resources of these generous nations are stretched to the limit.

Also, to be of further help please go to this link,, at the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA to easily submit (click submit twice) a letter to your senators and congressperson on behalf of our suffering refugee brothers and sisters.

And to go the extra mile, kindly consider making a donation to Catholic Relief Services by going to this link,, and clicking “European Migrant Crisis Grows.” Then click “Donate Now.”

Pope Francis has strong words for those who would turn away refugees: It is “violence to erect walls and barriers to block those seeking a place of peace. It is violence to push back those fleeing from inhuman conditions in the hope of a better future.”

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 San Clemente, CA to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at

PETITION: Stop Congress from targeting sanctuary cities

from Church World Service

Children at our border

Children at our border

Faith leaders across the country are standing together in solidarity with immigrants and demanding that Congress oppose any legislation that would force local police to serve as immigration enforcement officers or repeal local community-based policing ordinances.

Join us in telling Congress to respect the efforts of local law enforcement to build trust and protect all members of our communities.

We cannot allow the tragedy in San Francisco to undo the intentional efforts of law enforcement to create trust and safety in all communities, regardless of immigration status.

Add your name and congregation so that we can demonstrate strong faith community support for our immigrant sisters and brothers.

Deadline to sign: 1PM EST Wednesday, July 22, 2015

IMMIGRATION: Report on the abuse of solitary confinement in immigration detention in NJ

from New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees

NEWARK, N.J. – An investigation of the use of solitary confinement in New Jersey’s immigration detention centers finds an unnecessarily harsh and unfair system that violates state and international standards. The report “23 Hours in the Box, Solitary Confinement in New Jersey Immigration Detention” is released by New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees, a coalition of community-based groups that support immigration and detention reform, and NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic.

23HoursInBox_1The investigation examined hundreds of documents from public record requests and found that solitary confinement is applied far too often and far too long to immigrant detainees in New Jersey. Investigators also found an unnecessarily harsh system severely limiting due process and fraught with violations of state regulations and international standards.

“This task force has done a good job bringing these complex issues to the forefront. I look forward to working with all of the interested parties to improve the overall system. These complex issues deserve proper attention,” said Assemblywoman Nancy J. Pinkin (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of an Assembly version of a legislation to reform solitary confinement in New Jersey, A. 4510.

“As we continue to advocate for change in the way counties use disciplinary confinement, we need to remind counties and the federal government that immigrant detainees are held on civil violation of immigration laws and that they should not be detained in the first place. We are calling for an end to the use of solitary confinement in immigration detention,” said Alix Nguefack, Program Coordinator for American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program and the New Jersey Advocates for Immigrant Detainees.

These initial findings include the analysis of data from hundreds of documents provided by Bergen, Hudson counties and the Department of Homeland Security in response to the investigator’s public records requests. A second set of findings will be published later this year based on Essex County’s recent compliance after six months of repeated refusals to comply with our records requests. The report also raises serious due process concerns, highlights the civil nature of immigration detention and the noncompliance with state regulation and prison’s hearing procedures related to solitary confinement.

“Using solitary confinement on immigrant detainees is an additional affront to the human dignity of people which the state has no legitimate interest in incarcerating. Further after reading the report one can only conclude that the county jails are engaging in torture which is an intrinsic evil,’’ said Kathy O’Leary Region Coordinator for Pax Chisti New Jersey, a region of Pax Christi USA.

Specific recommendations include the renewed call to remove these civil detainees from detention especially from county jails which are designed as short term penal facilities. Interim recommendations include the need to strengthen NJ law, which would further limit the use and duration of solitary confinement, implementing mental health screenings and providing meaningful and authoritative community and state oversight to the county jails.

“In 2015, solitary confinement should not and must not be used without proper justification” said Senator Peter J. Barnes III (D-Middlesex), a prime sponsor of legislation to reform solitary confinement in New Jersey, S. 2588. “There are too many cases where solitary is becoming the default punishment for relatively minor infractions, this is not justice, this is inhumane.”

The research for the report was conducted in New Jersey through open records requests to Hudson, Bergen and Essex County jails. While Bergen and Hudson timely responded to the requests, at the time the report was written, Essex had failed to comply with records requests.

“There are so many reasons not to use solitary confinement: the often permanent mental trauma, the increased violence, the added difficulties prisoners face upon reentry,” said Bonnie Kerness, director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Program. “The isolation and lack of human contact is considered no-touch torture, and for the sake of human rights, civil rights, and political rights, we must abolish it. The report contributes to the growing number of advocate organizations protesting the use isolated confinement.”