Category Archives: Immigration

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.”

INTERVIEW: Sister of Charity’s ministry has always involved serving the vulnerable

Interview with Mary Beth Moore, Sister of Charity
Assistant coordinator of Centro Corazon de Maria, Long Island

by Sr. Camille D’Arienzo

SR. CAMILLE: Mary Beth, you are a recognized leader of Pax Christi on Long Island and a longtime supporter of Spanish-speaking immigrants, many of whom are migrant workers.

Let’s start by exploring your relationship with that community, often victims of injustice. How, when and why did you begin ministering to them?

MaryBeth1MOORE: In 2010, I was invited to join the sponsored ministry of the Religious of the Sacred Heart that was directed to immigrants in Hampton Bays on Long Island’s East End. The RSHM have a long history the East End, and they founded Centro Corazon de Maria in 2002 as a response to a congregation general assembly decision. They had no way of knowing that the immigrant population in Hampton Bays would mushroom at that very time (154.7 percent increase between 2000 and 2010). I was delighted to work again with the Latino people. I feel a deep connection with them.

SR. CAMILLE: What prepared you to become a successful advocate for this population?

MOORE: I worked in our congregational mission in Peru from 1982 to 1992. It was a life-changing experience. We had a team of seven — sisters, priests and lay missioners — in a crowded barrio just outside the coastal city of Chiclayo.

The Peruvian people are well-characterized by their compatriot theologian Gustavo Gutierrez as a suffering, believing people. The people’s warmth, their faith, their persistence, and their love for life remain great gifts for me. The emphasis on empowerment helped me to develop a mindset of advocacy and accompaniment

To read the entire interview, click here.

IMMIGRATION: Pax Christi USA signs onto letter calling for an end to family detention

from the Coalition on Human Needs

childrenattheborderbuttonMothers and children shouldn’t be jailed for seeking asylum in our country. And yet, that’s exactly what’s happening. Vulnerable mothers and children fleeing extreme violence in Central America have come to the U.S. to seek asylum – only to be locked up in deplorable family detention facilities by our government. It’s wrong, and it has to stop.

For years, families seeking asylum met their legal requirements without the harm of detention. A very high percentage of the families who have had a chance to present their stories have been granted asylum or have been found to have a credible fear of persecution. None of these families should be incarcerated in woefully inadequate facilities while they wait for the chance to tell their stories.

Pax Christi USA has signed this letter urging President Obama to end the practice of family detention.

TAKE ACTION: Faith leaders’ open letter against family detention

from the Interfaith Immigration Coalition

Pax Christi USA has signed onto this letter and we encourage faith leaders within our network to add their signatures.

A “Faith Leaders’ Letter Against Family Detention” has been developed by partners affiliated with Detention Watch Network’s “Faith Based Family Detention Strategy” working group.  This team includes clergy/faith leaders within Texas, as well as additional denominational partners in other locations, and some of us who are members of the IIC, too.  The letter is directed towards President Obama, and is cc’d to Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Dept. of Homeland Security.

The letter will be delivered in a meeting with the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships on Monday, May 4th.

Click here to sign the letter.

LENT 2015: Opportunities for prayer, study and action on immigrant rights during Lent

from Justice for Immigrants

jfiPax Christi USA is a partner in Justice for Immigrants, a project of the USCCB.

This Lent, Justice for Immigrants is offering a toolkit to be used during the season. The toolkit is available online at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/JFI-Lenten-Toolkit-2015.pdf

A Spanish-language version of the toolkit is also available on the site.

Also, Justice for Immigrants is hosting national call-in days to Members of Congress’ district offices on Ash Wednesday through the end of the week. We are asking that you use this toll-free number to call Congress, 1-855-589-5698, and leave this message:

“Please oppose including language in a DHS funding bill which reverses the President’s executive actions on immigration and please pass comprehensive immigration reform.”