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USCCB Delegation Examines Massive Youth Exodus from Central America January 27th, 2014
A delegation from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently traveled to Central America and Mexico to examine and understand why unaccompanied migrant children are fleeing the region in such record numbers. The situation has reached crisis level. Whereas the number of children apprehended on the U.S./Mexico border averaged 6,800 between 2004-2011, it jumped to over 13,000 children in 2012 and over 24,000 children in 2013. The projected number for fiscal year 2014 is 60,000-70,000. Most come from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. There are many factors that prompt these children to undertake such a perilous journey, and the delegation delves into those in their report. But simply put, these children are fleeing violence: generalized violence at both the state and local levels, which has led to a breakdown of the rule of law and created a culture of fear and hopelessness.
The delegation was led by Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso, and included Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); Reverend Daniel Groody, Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, and consultant to the USCCB Committee on Migration; Jane Bloom, Director, Washington Office of the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); Kristyn Peck, Associate Director of Children’s Services, MRS/USCCB; Ashley Feasley, Immigration Policy Advisor, MRS/ USCCB; and Kevin Appleby, Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, MRS/USCCB.
National Migration Week 2014: Out of the Darkness December 20th, 2013
The theme for the 2014 National MigrationWeek is “Out of Darkness”. This theme is an invitation to the faithful community to reflect and recommit in its support of migrants, especially the most vulnerable: the undocumented, refugees, asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking. These migrants are the most vulnerable and run the risk of violence and exploitation on the daily basis.
As part of the National Migration Week celebration, the USCCB Justice for Immigrants initiative will launch a postcard campaign, a national call-in day and a social media day. We encourage you and your local community to use the resources at the National Migration Week website at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Immigration Call-in day and November Webinars November 4th, 2013
The following is adapted from an article in the November-December 2013 issue of the Maryknoll NewsNotes, and is used with their permission.
On Wednesday, November 13, the feast of St. Frances Cabrini, an Italian immigrant who became the first canonized U.S. citizen, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is sponsoring a national call-in day to Congress. On that day, callers from the U.S. using the toll-free number (855-589-5698) will hear a short recording instructing them to give the following message to their member of Congress: “Support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE Act.” After the recording, callers will then be prompted to enter their zip code on their telephone keypad and will be connected directly to their representative’s D.C. office.
[The Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, HR 2278, passed the House Judiciary Committee on June 18. Among other things, it would permit state and local law enforcement officers, untrained in federal immigration law, to issue an immigration hold and detain an individual indefinitely, resulting in prolonged detention for U.S. citizens and lawfully permanent residents. The proposed detention policy calls for an increased number of detention facilities, an increase in the population to be detained (including all individuals awaiting a decision for removal) and an increase in funding for state and local governments to detain individuals in local jails, at a total cost of nearly $1 billion per year. Provisions in the SAFE Act would criminalize religious leaders and houses of worship that provide humanitarian assistance to all persons regardless of immigration status. Section 314 of the SAFE Act would make it a crime to transport undocumented immigrants and “encourage or induce a person to reside in the United States” if that person lacks immigration status. The penalties for engaging in any of these activities are steep, ranging from three to 20 years in prison.]
The USCCB and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) will host a series of free webinars held the first four Fridays in November, 2-3:30 pm Eastern/11 am-12:30 pm Pacific.
These webinars are for immigrant and social justice advocates, legal service providers, faith leaders, community organizers, and others working with and on behalf of immigrants and will address the following important issues:
The first webinar was on November 1: Comprehensive immigration reform 2013-2014: The road forward from the Church’s perspective, Nov. 1: This webinar looked at the legislation and politics which will shape the debate on immigration reform in the House of Representatives, explaining the Church’s position on individual bills.
Recent trends in state and local immigration enforcement, Nov. 8: This webinar will provide an overview of collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement agencies through the Criminal Alien Program, 287(g) Partnerships, and Secure Communities as well as the use of ICE detainers to identify potentially deportable individuals in state or local custody.
Immigration detention: Perspectives from D.C. and the field, Nov. 15: This webinar will address immigration detention, including the federal mandate requiring the detention of certain immigrants, the recent rise of immigration detention, and alternatives to detention. Additionally, the panel will include local perspectives on the effects of detention facilities on communities and how local stakeholders can help combat this national phenomenon.
State and local immigration laws: Recap of 2013 and outlook for 2014, Nov. 22: This webinar will review some of the anti-immigrant and pro-immigrant laws passed by states in 2013 on topics including state-issued identification and driver’s licenses, refugee resettlement, immigration enforcement, and access to higher education. Panelists will also address the state-level immigration policy outlook for 2014.
“U.S. Poverty and Our Catholic Response” – Webinar on September 19 September 12th, 2013
Is poverty on the rise in our country? How are children, the elderly, and other vulnerable groups faring? Policy experts with the Domestic Social Development office of the U.S. Catholic Bishops are broadcasting a webinar to explore recent poverty data and what it means for national and local advocacy efforts.
This free webinar is set for Thursday, Sept. 19, from 2-3 pm (Eastern). Register for the webinar here.
2013 Labor Day Statement & Resources by U.S. Catholic Bishops August 20th, 2013
Every human being enjoys a basic right to be respected, not because of any title, position, prestige, or accomplishment but first of all because we are created in the image and likeness of God. From an ethical and moral perspective we embrace the exhortation of St. Paul “to anticipate one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:10).
Labor Day is an opportunity to take stock of the ways workers are honored and respected. Earlier this year, Pope Francis pointed out, “Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person…. It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one’s own nation.”
Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, unjust wages, abuse, and exploitation.
- For parish resources, check out: Labor Day Statement Supplemental Aids (PDF)
- Catholic Social Teaching on Labor: A Primer (PDF)
- Primer on Poverty, an Option for the Poor, and the Common Good (PDF)
- Income Inequality – A Catholic Concern (This is an excellent interactive video resource on income inequality in the United States and the Church’s response)
Thanks to the National Catholic Rural Life Conference for this alert.
Farm Bill Action Reminder June 5th, 2013
In conjunction with the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference, we continue to urge Congress to enact a Farm Bill that alleviates hunger, supports vibrant farms and healthy communities, and protects God’s creation.
This week, the Senate is voting on amendments and then will hold a final vote on their version of the Farm Bill. There is still time to contact your Senators and ask them to support a fair and just Farm Bill. Here is a review of some of the policies and programs that Catholic Rural Life, of which the Oblates are a member, and other faith groups are supporting in reauthorization of the Farm Bill: