Tag Archives: Immigration

BORDER CRISIS: Mexican bishop calls for resolving the root causes of migration

from Zenit

“The phenomenon of migration can be addressed and resolved at the root only when the causes that force men, women and children to leave their countries in search of the ‘American dream’ are dealt with,” says Bishop Ruy Rendón Leal of Matamoros. Matamoros shares the US-Mexico border with Brownsville, Texas.

The bishop said this at the inauguration of a home to provide care for migrants, established in the border town of Reynosa.

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As reported by Fides, the prelate urged at the inauguration that “reflection and interventions today must go beyond mere material aid or a better treatment of migrants.”

“Economic injustice and social inequality in our Latin American countries are the main causes of this migration,” Bishop Rendón Leal affirmed. “In fact, families do not find the basic conditions to meet the basic needs of life in their countries of origin.”

The bishop observed that at times multinational companies are part of the root cause of the immigration phenomenon, as they “come to our country to seek only labor at low cost.”

“But wages should be fair,” he insisted, saying that it is “necessary to ensure better economic and working conditions.”

Click here to read the entire article.

BORDER CRISIS: Do not deport the children!

Scott Wrightby Scott Wright
Pax Christi Metro D.C.-Baltimore

A Church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what Gospel is that? – Archbishop Oscar Romero

There is a refugee crisis on the US-Mexico border, and a war in Central America and Mexico against children. It is being waged by gangs and drug cartels, corrupt police and corrupt government officials complicit with these non-state actors or governments unable or unwilling to fulfill their obligations to protect children from the violence directed against them.

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Children as young as two and their families are making a perilous journey north, fleeing violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and seeking to reunite with their families in the United States. The numbers may approach 90,000 this year, and even more in the year to come, and they are fleeing from the countries with the highest murder rates in the world.

There is clearly a moral crisis in our nation, as Congress refuses to pass comprehensive immigration reform and President Obama asks Congress for more money for border enforcement and a change in the law that protects unaccompanied children so that he can expedite their deportation without judicial review.

Above all, there is also a spiritual crisis in the nation. Undocumented children have become the new scapegoats. Communities of faith, on the other hand, have been among the first responders offering these families and children shelter, and advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. Now we are being asked to take a stronger stand on immigration, and those who are asking are the children who are fleeing the furnace of violence in their home countries and crossing the border to reunite with their families.

bordercrisis2The bottom line is: do not sacrifice these children on the altar of a broken immigration system, political expediency, and the lack of moral courage. Do not deport these children. Protect them. Help them reunite with their families. Welcome the stranger. Welcome the children. Fix the broken immigration system so that families may reunite with their children who are at risk. But don’t sacrifice the children, and don’t pretend we are doing them a favor by deporting them back to the violence they are fleeing. Isn’t that what the Gospel asks of us in this moment? And isn’t that what the heroes of our faith ask of us as well?

 “The great need today is for Christians who are active and critical, who don’t accept situations without analyzing them inwardly and deeply. We no longer want masses of people like those who have been trifled with for so long. We want persons like fruitful fig trees, who can say yes to justice and no to injustice and can make use of the precious gift of life, regardless of the circumstances.” – Archbishop Oscar Romero

Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular – but one must take it simply because it is right. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are many reasons for this crisis, and they have political and economic roots going back decades and generations: support for military governments, free trade agreements that undercut local farmers leading to more poverty and increased migration, a military coup in Honduras, and the violence of corrupt police, drug cartels and youth gangs.

Every day an immigrant dies in the Arizona desert, and 1,100 immigrants are deported. Every day 34,000 immigrants are detained to fill a bed quota, many in for profit prisons, awaiting deportation. Every year, for the past several years, on both President Bush’s and President Obama’s watch, 400,000 immigrants are deported.

Immigrant-led movements, such as Fast4Families, targeted Republicans in Congress and called for comprehensive immigration reform, fasting for weeks on the National Mall last December. The National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON) joined with faith communities and led protests across the nation last spring calling on President Obama to stop the deportations that were dividing immigrant families. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) brought together African Americans from the Birmingham children’s march fifty years ago with the children of undocumented immigrants today who took their message to the White House in late spring and were arrested, calling on the conscience of the nation to do more.

Our immigration system is broken, and there is plenty of blame to spread around. Congress has failed to act, but so has President Obama. His strategy of reinforcing the US-Mexico border did not produce a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented in the country. Now he proposes to send more money to enforce the border and speed up administrative action to process and eventually deport the children.

Our message as people of faith must be unequivocal: do not deport the children. Protect them, offer them temporary protective or refugee status, and protect their families. Address the roots of the crisis in Central America and failed U.S. policies on immigration. Don’t blame the children. Press Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Take administrative action to end the deportations of immigrants until Congress acts. But don’t deport the children.

Thirty-five years ago, the martyred archbishop of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, in the midst of a difficult and bloody civil war, reminds us that something more is at stake here than politics:

 “Nothing is so important to the church as human life, as the human person, above all, the person of the poor and the oppressed. Besides being human beings, they are also divine beings, since Jesus said that whatever is done to them he takes as done to him. That bloodshed, those deaths, are beyond all politics. They touch the very heart of God.”

IMMIGRATION: Texas bishops issue statement calling for compassion for unaccompanied child-immigrants

from Zenit

Below is a statement from the Texas Catholic Bishops on the situation with unaccompanied minors at the border.

Child detainees sleep in a holding cell at a US Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas.

Child detainees sleep in a holding cell at a US Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas.

Texas’ Catholic Bishops are deeply concerned about the increasing number of unaccompanied children and mothers from Central America and Mexico who are crossing into the United States through our state. Some of these children, as young as four years of age, are reportedly being held in crowded conditions in Customs and Border Protection detention facilities until they can be processed and accepted into a temporary living shelter. So far this year, some 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended, with estimates that the number could grow to 90,000 by the end of September.

The Catholic Charities agencies across Texas have expanded their commitments with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency–who has been tasked with leading the federal effort–and the Federal Office of Refugee and Resettlement to provide for the basic needs of these mothers and children while their cases are being resolved or they are reunified with their families. Not only does this include opening new temporary shelters, but also providing social workers, immigration lawyers, and medical personnel to meet immediate needs…

Click here to read the entire statement.

HONDURAS & IMMIGRATION: Conference call with Honduran Mercy Associate TODAY at 10am EDT on border crisis, Honduras violence

from the Sisters of Mercy

Hear first-hand about the critical human rights situation in Honduras and how this is resulting in the unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied minors fleeing that country to the U.S.

  • Who:  Mercy Associate Aida Gonzalez Melana from Honduras
  • What: Aida will share via conference call how extreme violence in Honduras is impacting herself, her fellow Hondurans, and how this is leading to the unprecedented influx of unaccompanied minor crossing the U.S.-Mexico border
  • When: Tuesday, July 1 at 10 a.m. (Eastern Time)
  • How: Call 1-800-977-8002 and input participant code 43195722#

Please RSVP here. It is important that we know the number of people participating in each call so that we can have enough phone lines open.

Note:  Presentation will be spoken in Spanish and simultaneously translated into English.

*This presentation will be recorded for those unable to participate in the original airing. A link to this recording will be shared following the presentation.*

Background: 

The current crisis on the border involving a huge influx of unaccompanied minors is highlighting the situation of extreme violence that is engulfing several Central American countries, especially Honduras. Since a coup in June 2009 that removed a democratically elected president, Honduras has seen an upsurge in politically motivated killings and a militarization of Honduran society.

Mercy Associate Aida Gonzalez Melana from Honduras

Mercy Associate Aida Gonzalez Melana from Honduras

Aída is the Administrative Director of Misericordia Tejedoras de Sueños (Mercy Dreamweavers) ministry in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras which has become known as “the murder capital of the world.”  Dreamweavers works with impoverished women throughout the region and has sponsored the formation of a credit union and cooperative store.

Aida is on a speaking tour in the United States, sponsored by the Quakers’ Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), for which she is a facilitator.  She will be at the Sisters of Mercy Institute offices June 30 and July 1, as well as visiting with Mercy communities in Chicago, Omaha and Belmont.

Our conversation with Aida will help us to better understand the conditions that force people to leave their home countries to escape violence and oppression. Our work on immigration reform is directly related to the realities facing the people of Honduras and other Central American countries.

IMMIGRATION: Pax Christi USA signs open letter regarding new immigrant family detention beds

Child detainees sleep in a holding cell at a US Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas.

Child detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas.

Pax Christi USA has signed onto an open letter opposing the administration’s announcement that it will be opening new family detention beds in response to the humanitarian crisis at the border.

The letter reads, in part:

We, the undersigned civil rights and civil liberties, human rights, faith, immigration, labor, criminal justice, legal, and children’s rights organizations, write to strongly urge you to end plans to open new immigrant family detention centers.  

We are gravely concerned by the Obama Administration’s announcement that it will expand the use of family detention and deny families full access to protection under U.S. and international law.  Family detention profoundly impacts the emotional and physical well-being of children and breaks down family relationships. While the administration is understandably under pressure to respond to the current humanitarian crisis at the border, locking babies in prison cells and deporting women and young children to dangerous situations are not the solution…

For a full copy of the letter and to sign your organization on, click here.

TORTURE: Please sign this petition to help torture survivors

from TASSC

As torture survivors flee for their lives, most of them carry the heavy weight of multiple and cumulative traumas in addition to the on-going traumatic experiences that can be associated with being a refugee. Receiving asylum in the United States can be a lifeline to safety and provide a path to healing. However, when asylum seekers arrive at a U.S. border or port of entry, they are frequently shocked at the treatment they endure upon reaching a perceived destination of safety and protection, as they are arrested, shackled, and confined.

Due to the long-term impacts of torture and trauma, the fact of being detained at all is often retraumatizing for survivors of torture. Further, particular elements inherent in the detention experience—including a profound sense of powerlessness and loss of control—may recapitulate the torture experience. Beyond this, the indefinite nature of immigration detention is a blanket over it all, contributing to severe, chronic emotional distress. In less than three years – from October 2010 to February 2013 – the United States detained an estimated 6,000 survivors of torture as they were seeking asylum protection.

Given the extreme hardship, particularly in light of less expensive and more humane alternatives, survivors of torture should not be detained. Once detained most asylum seekers do not have access to legal information and representation. Only 14% of the asylum seekers in immigration detention have access to the legal orientation program (LOP) or some form of legal assistance. Most of the asylum seekers including torture survivors forced to represent themselves and some lose their legal battle and deported to the country where they were tortured or persecuted…

Click here to read more and see the entire petition.

IMMIGRATION: This is what America looks like

Tom Cordaroby Tom Cordaro
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace

For years immigrant communities and their supporters have been marching, canvasing, writing letters, lobbying politicians, holding educational events, telling their stories and praying for an end to the pain, suffering and fear caused by our broken immigration system.  In spite of all this effort nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants have been forcibly deported leaving nearly 3 million children without a parent.

In the face of so much preventable human suffering there comes a time when good order must be interrupted so the cries of children can be heard. This is why I joined 141 immigrant activists in blocking a major intersection in downtown Chicago on November 6th. We are calling on the Obama Administration to suspend deportations and we are calling on Speaker John Boehner to allow a vote on the bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that passed in the Senate.

It was a privilege for me to participate in this action with so many gifted young immigrants and other supporters of immigration reform. As we sat in the street awaiting arrest we joined in many familiar chants.

The one that struck me the most was the chant, “This is what democracy looks like!” I have joined in this chant on many occasions for many different causes. It is a powerful reminder that citizenship in a democracy is more than a spectator sport. It is a solemn commitment to engage in the political process in order to form a “more perfect union” in our communities, our nation and around the world.

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But in the midst of this chant a new variation arose. This mostly young immigrant crowd began to chant, “This is what America looks like.”  Yes indeed! As I looked over this multi-cultural community of social justice activists it was clear to me that these are the faces of America’s future; and to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear – these young activists are the future of our Church.

These gifted young organizers of color and their white allies represent the best of who we are. They are the ones we have been waiting for. As a middle-aged white male activist it is clear to me that my role is to follow their lead; to trust in their judgment; and to offer what wisdom I have if asked.

See more photos here.