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Missionary Oblates Welcome Executive Action for Migrant Families

November 24th, 2014

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Immigration Reform Rally, Capitol Lawn; photo taken on April 10, 2013; Cool Revolution on Flickr, Some rights reserved
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Missionary Oblates JPIC applauds President Obama’s Administration for taking bold action to protect migrant families. On November 20, President Obama announced an historic action to provide deportation relief to an estimated 5 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

It is an historic victory that could not have been accomplished without the determined advocacy efforts of religious communities, immigrants and human rights groups. The executive action on immigration is welcome news for millions of immigrant families who have been living in the shadows for a long time.

The executive action will provide protection against deportation and will provide work permits to parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) who have resided in the country for five years. It will also expand legal status protection to young people who came to the United States as children, but who were not able to qualify for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) when it was first announced in 2012.

“Due to the failure of Congress to move on comprehensive immigration reform, President Obama was right to act to stop deportations, which would lead parents to be separated from their American-born children,” said Fr. John Cox OMI, Pastor of Most Holy Redeemer parish in Ogema MN and a former member of the U.S. Province JPIC Committee.

“I remain very disappointed in President Obama, though. This executive order does little. And I don’t see where it will undo the harm caused to immigrant families by deportations during his administration prior to this executive action,” Fr. John added.

President Obama has also announced termination of the problematic “Secure Communities” deportation program. “Secure Communities” required local law enforcement to share the fingerprints of arrested individuals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Many faith leaders raised concerns about Secure Communities, saying it was undermining the hard earned trust between immigrant communities and local police.

Reacting to the termination of Secure Communities, Fr. Bob Wright, OMI, a former member of U.S Province Oblate JPIC Committee said, “This is very important news. Secure Communities has been a major disturbance in local communities, and a major channel of getting people ticketed for misdemeanors hauled away by Immigration.” Fr. Bob went on to say, “Under the Secure Communities’ program, hard-working families and students who have lived here for more than a decade have been turned over to immigration agents by local police for the most minor infractions, some of which they have no possibility of rectifying.”

We are also concerned that more resources will continue to flow towards the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. A genuine understanding of the realities faced by border communities would yield the best policy. Fr. Bob Wright OMI says, “The border sheriffs in South Texas, the local police force, and the residents are dismayed with the swarm of patrol officers from all over Texas – often with no knowledge of local culture — harassing all drivers for the most minor alleged infractions.”

Moving forward, some Members of Congress have threatened to stop the Executive action on immigration through legislation, legal action or blocking funding for its implementation. It is essential for your Member of Congress to hear from people of faith that you support and stand with President Obama in expanding deferred action for undocumented parents and children.

For more for information on previous Oblates advocacy actions on immigration reform visit: http://omiusajpic.org/topics/immigration-resources/

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