Category Archives: Immigration

Advent 2021: The Moral Demands of Migration

Advent 2021: The Moral Demands of Migration

Ronnate Asirwatham
December 3, 2021

The Second Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith or Love with the “Bethlehem Candle” reminding us of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. In this week’s Advent reflection, Ronnate Asirwatham, NETWORK of Government Relations Director, looks at how the journeys surrounding the birth of Jesus align with the suffering of migrant people in our world today:

Advent Evokes the Moral Demands of Migration

Jesus entered the world as a victim of forced migration with nowhere to go. Just as Joseph and Mary traveled far from home and were turned away, so too our world faces a refugee crisis that manifests itself across different continents and intersects with crises and conflicts sparked by political oppression, drug trafficking, and climate change.

As Jesus spent his first night in a cave used to shelter livestock, countless families around the world have spent years in refugee camps, living in conditions that most people in the U.S. cannot fathom. And just as the Holy Family fled into Egypt, so also the people at our border flee unimaginable violence and other threats to their well-being.

On Christmas Eve 2017, Pope Francis preached on this stark reality and its religious dimensions:

“So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones. In many cases this departure is filled with hope, hope for the future; yet for many others this departure can only have one name: survival. Surviving the Herods of today, who, to impose their power and increase their wealth, see no problem in shedding innocent blood.”

We should ask ourselves this Advent with whom we’re identifying, the refugee child who is God incarnate or the insecure tyrant who devalues his existence. One example of this is the Biden administration’s continued use of Title 42, a Trump-era policy used to expel an unknown number of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, putting them in harm’s way and denying them the opportunity to seek life-saving protection. The coming of Jesus at Christmas is an urgent present day reality when we choose to recognize his presence in those who still seek refuge today.

Take Action!

Title 42 Livestream

Stay Tuned!

Livestream will begin Friday December 3 at 10:00 AM Eastern.

Contact the White House 

Email the White House about this event – Tell them to Rescind Title 42 

The White House comment line is only open Tuesday-Thursday from 11 AM-3 PM Eastern. 
Dial 1-888-496-3502 to call the comment line. 

Write a Letter to the Editor about Title 42  

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 7:00 PM Eastern

Register for NETWORK’s Title 42 LTE Training here.

Post on Social Media 

Use the Title 42 Social Media Toolkit and share to your, or your organization’s, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook Accounts.  

What’s In the Latest Build Back Better Framework?

What’s In the Latest Build Back Better Framework?

Audrey Carroll
November 10, 2021

On October 28, President Biden unveiled the framework for his Build Back Better Plan. The $1.75 trillion package includes key provisions such as permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit, closing the Medicaid coverage gap in the 12 non-expansion states, a $150 billion investment in affordable housing and vouchers, $100 billion for immigration system reforms, four weeks of paid family leave, and more.


Source: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/28/build-back-better-framework/

Here’s a breakdown of the NETWORK priorities included in the Build Back Better framework:

Health Care

*Expand Medicaid coverage in 12 non-expansion states
*Address the Black maternal health crisis

The $130 billion health care investments in the Build Back Better framework will expand Medicaid coverage to 4 million uninsured people in 12 non-expansion states. Medicaid expansion will help elders, rural communities, low-income communities, and other folks with health care accessibility issues receive care. Also included in the package are historic maternal health equity investments to address the Black maternal health crisis.

Tax Credits

*Permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit
*One-year extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit

The proposed Build Back Better framework includes permanent refundability of the Child Tax Credit, and will provide more than 35 million households with the expanded Child Tax Credit of up to $3,600 per child for one year. Full refundability of the Child Tax Credit means that low-income families who do not typically file a tax return will still qualify for the credit and get the support they need.

The framework also extends the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for about 17 million low-wage workers. The American Rescue Plan tripled the credit for childless workers, many who  are essential workers, and the Build Back Better framework will extend this provision to work towards alleviating poverty.

Housing

*$150 billion for housing investments including: $25 billion in new rental assistance; $65 billion to preserve public housing infrastructure; and $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund 

President Biden’s plan would invest $150 billion in housing affordability, especially for rural communities. These investments will fund more than 1 million new affordable homes, rental assistance, public housing, and expand housing vouchers to hundreds of thousands of families in the U.S. This is one of the biggest affordable housing investments in history and will help eliminate the racial wealth and income gap by allowing first-generation homebuyers to build wealth.

Paid Leave

*Four weeks of paid family and medical leave

After initially being gutted from the original Build Back Better framework, four weeks of paid family and medical leave is now included thanks to the tireless advocacy of workers and families across the country. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world without a national paid family and medical leave program. A federal paid leave program will allow low-income workers and workers of color to access paid leave for the first time. Workers will no longer have to choose between a paycheck and caring for themselves or their family members.

Immigration

*Reforms to our immigration systems
*Work permits and deportation protection for undocumented people in the U.S. 10 years or longer

The Build Back Better framework includes a $100 billion investment for immigration systems reforms, contingent on a Senate parliamentarian ruling. While the current framework includes access to work permits and deportation protections for nearly 7 million undocumented people living in the U.S. for a decade or longer, it disappointingly does not include a pathway to citizenship Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers, and other essential workers despite strong bipartisan support.

Additional Investments in Children, Families, and Our Communities

In addition to these NETWORK priorities, additional investments the Build Back Better plan will establish universal and free preschool for more than 6 million 3- and 4-year-olds, expand access to high-quality, affordable child care, improve Medicaid coverage for home care services for seniors and people with disabilities while improving the quality of caregiving jobs, and provide $550 billion of investments in clean energy and other climate change initiatives.

How will the Build Back Better plan be paid for?

The Build Back Better plan will be paid for by requiring ultra-wealthy millionaires and billionaires and corporations to pay their fair share. The framework reverses some of the 2017 Trump-era tax cuts for the wealthy to raise revenue for families and workers in the U.S. The tax justice provisions include:

  • A surtax of 5% on personal income above $10 million, and 3% on income above $25 million.
  • A 15% minimum tax on corporate profits of large corporations with over $1 billion in profits.
  • A 1% tax on stock buybacks.
  • A 50% minimum tax on foreign profits of U.S. corporations.
  • Closing loopholes that allow wealthy taxpayers to avoid Medicare taxes, and more.

Unfortunately, the Billionaires Income Tax was left out of the framework. With the tax changes in the Build Back Better framework, we will raise more than enough revenue to pay for the $1.75 trillion plan.

It’s time to pass Build Back Better!

The Build Back Better framework outlines transformational investments in workers and families that will work towards eliminating the racial wealth and income gap and building a new, equitable society. The framework falls short by not including a pathway to citizenship, but is overall a significant step towards dismantling systemic racism in our federal systems. House Democrats are currently working on moving the Build Back Better plan across the finish line before the end of the year. Email your Representative today or dial 888-738-3058 to call your Representative and tell them you support the Build Back Better framework!

164 Catholic Organizations Call on President Biden to End Title 42 on Vatican World Day for Migrants and Refugee

164 Catholic Organizations Call on President Biden to End Title 42 on Vatican World Day for Migrants and Refugee

Ronnate Asirwatham
September 23, 2021

164 Catholic organizations joined together to send a letter to President Biden ahead of the World Day for Migrants and Refugees demanding he end the misuse of Title 42. Title 42, first invoked by the Trump administration and affirmatively continued by the Biden administration, has been used to expel an unknown number of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, putting them in harm’s way and denying them the opportunity to seek life-saving protection.

After a federal district court ordered the Biden administration to stop using Title 42 to expel migrant families with children on September 16, giving the Administration two weeks to comply, the Biden administration doubled down on its support for this unjust policy by immediately appealing the decision. President Biden can and must take action to stop the misuse of the policy once and for all.

The letter calls on the President to listen to and act on Pope Francis’ message to the world for this Sunday’s  107th World Day for Migrants and Refugees, to make, “no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”

The letter was co-lead by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. Notable signatories include: Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, National Black Sisters’ Conference, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Pax Christi USA, Kino Border Initiative, Hope Border Institute, the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, Catholic Charities Atlanta, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana, and many more. See the letter and full list of 164 signers here.

Still Advocating a Pathway to Citizenship

Still Advocating a Pathway to Citizenship

Virginia Schilder
September 22, 2021

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee approved the inclusion of a pathway to citizenship in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill. This pathway would allow an estimated 8 million undocumented neighbors — including Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers — to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. Without this pathway, there is no way for those 8 million people, who already live and work in the U.S. under threat of deportation, to change their immigration status.

In order to pass through the budget reconciliation process, the Senate parliamentarian must agree that the immigration provisions have a direct fiscal effect. On Sunday September 19, the parliamentarian rejected Democratic leadership’s initial proposal to include the pathway to citizenship, on the grounds that its impact goes beyond the budget — even though that’s true of everything in the bill! This news is frustrating, but not the end of the line for establishing the pathway to citizenship. As we hope the parliamentarian will realize in the forthcoming meetings, the status of immigrant workers and families is acutely relevant to the budget. Moreover, the Senate (even when it has been Republican-controlled!) has included immigration provisions in the budget reconciliation before.

The COVID-19 public health crisis has made our nation’s reliance on immigrants and their labor even more visible than before. More than 5 million undocumented immigrants have been risking their lives as “essential workers” throughout the pandemic.  To call immigrant workers in front-line jobs “essential” to the functioning of the U.S., while failing to provide them with the basic safety and dignity of a secure immigration status, is hypocritical, exploitative, and unjust.

Yet the necessity of creating a pathway to citizenship is about more than labor: it is about human dignity. The millions of undocumented immigrants in our communities have a right to protection not because of their valuable economic contributions, but because of their invaluable humanity. Pope Francis (himself the son of an immigrant) affirmed this in his message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees:

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

Catholic teachings have long affirmed the rights of immigrants and refugees and the responsibility of nations like the U.S. to welcome and support them. Pope Francis and the U.S. Bishops, alongside Catholic Sisters and laity in the U.S., have made responding to unjust immigration policies a priority of the 21st century. Our call to protect immigrants and their families draws not only from Church teaching and lived tradition, but also from the myriad scriptural references to the treatment of migrants:

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NIV).

At the core of our faith is the command to love our neighbors as ourselves — and immigrants are our neighbors, integral to the fabric of our communities. Immigrants and their families are made in the image of God, with loves, hopes, and rights, and deserve according treatment. No one should have to live in constant fear of being ripped away from their family, home, job, and community. As human beings, we all have a right to safety, and those with security have a particular obligation to ensure the security of others.

Creating a path to citizenship is a moral imperative, full stop. But passing a budget reconciliation bill that offers a way to citizenship for many immigrants will also boost economic growth, create jobs, and increase wages for all people in the U.S. This makes clear that promoting the good of our immigrant neighbors promotes the good of everyone. Catholic Social Justice, especially the principle of the common good, teaches us that we live in an interconnected society in which individual and communal flourishing are inseparable. Pope Francis expressed this idea directly to U.S. lawmakers during a joint session of Congress in 2015:

“Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

When we treat our immigrant neighbors as human beings with intrinsic and immeasurable dignity — which includes taking structural action to ensure their care and protection — our society becomes more humane for everyone.

After the recent federal district court ruling in Texas threatening DACA, the need to create a path to citizenship is increasingly urgent. Luckily, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of voters — including Independents and Republicans — support Congress creating a pathway to citizenship. What’s more, the budget reconciliation process only requires 50 Senate votes to pass.

NETWORK calls on all Senators to support including a pathway to citizenship in the recovery package. If we are truly committed to protecting workers, families, and those who are most marginalized by our systems and structures, then we must pursue just immigration policies. Including a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation will help ensure that our recovery is equitable and humane. Now is the time to align our policies with our values and enact a path to citizenship.

Read NETWORK’s press release following the release of the Senate Parliamentarian’s initial guidance.

Due Process Denied: New Report from Kino Border Initiative and NETWORK

New Report from Kino Border Initiative and NETWORK

Trey Espinosa
August 25, 2021

Due Process Denied,” a new joint report from Kino Border Initiative (KBI) and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, documents patterns of abuse by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency in the Nogales sector.  The purpose of this report is to provide a snapshot of what occurs at the border and to press for external oversight to end CBP’s systemic culture of abuse of migrants.

The report details 35 cases of complaints against CBP agents. The abuses range from migrants being denied due process, such as not given an opportunity to seek asylum or destruction of documentation, to outright physical violence. The victims are men, women, and children and all from Latin America or the Caribbean. Almost all of the abuses documented here are in the Arizona sector but both Kino and NETWORK can say with confidence that this snapshot is the latest of numerous reports highlighting CBP’s systemic pattern of abuse which violates U.S. laws and regulations, as well as international law all along the border.

All of the immigrants who were interviewed in this report came to the United States hoping to escape persecution or violence in their home countries. Many of them directly told the CBP agents that they are desperate to evade abusive partners, organized gang activity, extortion, and/or political strife. However, none of them, were referred to an Asylum Officer of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as is required by law.

As members of Congress continue to push for increased funding for CBP and the Biden administration increasingly relies on CBP to do the work of asylum officers and trained Health and Human Services (HHS) employees, this report demonstrates that CBP is not the appropriate agency to afford migrants the due process guaranteed to them by law; rather, it is woefully inadequate in such a role. The Biden administration and Congress must exercise all their powers and initiate external oversight mechanisms over CBP that will end impunity and change the systemic culture of abuse within the CBP.


Trey Espinosa is a summer volunteer on NETWORK’s Government Relations Team. Trey is originally from Louisville, KY and is in grad school at University of Maryland studying public policy.

Recovering Together: Creating a Pathway to Citizenship

Recovering Together: Creating a Pathway to Citizenship

Achieving an Equitable and Inclusive Recovery through Budget Reconciliation
Ronnate Asirwatham
August 3, 2021

This week, Democratic Congressional leadership continues debating what will be included in the $3.5 trillion recovery package. The transformational recovery package will be passed through the budget reconciliation process, which only requires 50 Senate votes for a bill to pass and become law. This provides a unique opportunity to create a pathway to citizenship for millions of our undocumented community members that cannot be missed.

We are calling on all Senators to support including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farm workers, and essential workers in the recovery package.

With a simple majority vote, Democrats can finally deliver a pathway to millions of undocumented people who have lived and worked in the United States under the fear of deportation for too long.

It is a moral failure that today in the U.S. millions of immigrant workers are considered “essential” and “deportable” at the same time. Congress has a moral imperative to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrant essential workers and their families through the reconciliation process.

A pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers has overwhelming bipartisan support. Now is the time to extend a pathway to citizenship to millions of our neighbors.

Take Action

Call your Senators at 888-738-3058. Tell them to support including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farm workers, and essential workers in the recovery package.

We Need A More Just and Humane Immigration System

We Need a More Just and Humane Immigration System

Mercy Adoga
August 26, 2021

At NETWORK, we are advocating for a more just and humane immigration system especially at our southwestern border for all immigrants including Haitian, Afro-Caribbean, and African immigrants. 

However, some of the Biden administration’s actions do not support such a system. On August 2nd, President Biden indefinitely extended Title 42 of the U.S. Code to prevent asylum seekers from coming to our borders . This is a flagrant violation of U.S. asylum lawstreaties, and the Constitution. The Biden administration’s misuse of Title 42 to expel asylum seekers puts all expelled immigrants especially black immigrants in grave danger of gang violence, kidnappings, and separates families. Since Biden took office in January of this year, NGOs have tracked at least 6,356 kidnappings, sexual assaults, and other violent attacks  against people blocked at ports of entry or expelled.

President Biden also unveiled a blueprint that has been created for a fair, orderly, and humane immigration system. the Department of Homeland Security has followed up with proposed administrative regulations to flesh out the blueprint. NETWORK welcomes some of the proposed regulations such as those that will expand the categories of asylum seekers eligible to have their cases decided before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These interviews allow asylum seekers to present their claims in a less traumatizing, non-adversarial setting and will contribute to reducing the immigration court backlog. 

However, both the blueprint and proposed regulations allow the government to expand its use of expedited removal, provide only an immigration court “review” rather than an actual hearing, and end the essential life-saving safeguard of asylum office reconsideration of negative credible fear determinations.

These are harmful policies that have been tried, tested, and failed. NETWORK and other organizations have written to the Attorney General the reasons why expedited removal should not be used. These policies frequently lead to the unlawful deportation of people seeking asylum, who are often denied the chance to request protection by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.

A new NETWORK and Kino Border Initiative joint report provides a snapshot of the CBP abuse at the border. All 35 cases recorded in this report say they asked for asylum but the CBP denied them their right to pursue their asylum cases and expelled them instead.  The Administration’s choice of a deterrence policy over a just and humane one will needlessly subject families to abusive treatment and inhumane conditions in CBP and ICE detention cells as the government seeks to deport them

NETWORK Recommendations

At NETWORK we recognize that the current immigration processes occurring at the southwestern border are detrimental to immigrants. We would like to spread awareness about the dangers while also proposing potential solutions to address some of the concerns surrounding the immigration system. 

Asylum seekers should enter into a welcoming, timely, and effective system rather than being subjected to rushed and inefficient screening and adjudication procedures. We ask for: 

  1. The right to seek asylum restored at all points of entry at our southern border 
  2. End the misuse of Title 42 at the U.S. Mexico border
  3. Improve the fairness of asylum office interviews and refer asylum seekers for full asylum interviews at their destination locations without the use of expedited removal — a fundamentally flawed process that endangers refugees   
  4. Ramp-up case support initiatives and funding for legal representation, use legal parole authority and do not send people seeking U.S. refugee protection to immigration jails while their asylum cases are adjudicated.
  5. Support faith and community-based welcome organizations to provide welcome and temporary care in border towns and in the interior of the U.S. 
  6. End immigration detention. 
  7. Ensure that all asylum seekers have the right to legal representation not only legal orientation programs.

We hope that taking these steps among others will lead to a more timely, just, and effective immigration system that positively affects all immigrants including those who are Haitian, Afro-Caribbean, and African. 

Welcome to NETWORK’s Summer Immigration Education

Welcome to NETWORK’s Summer Immigration Education!

Mercy Adoga
July 31, 2021

This summer NETWORK offers a series of educational videos providing information about the United States’ Immigration system. In this video series, NETWORK’s Government Relations Director Ronnate Asirwatham will be discussing various topics surrounding the U.S Immigration system such as Title 42, MPP (Migration Protection Protocols), the difference between the asylum process and refugee process, and more. To learn more, please watch the videos below.

 

 

Mercy is a graduate student. She is one of the summer volunteers at NETWORK this year and has been working on the Summer Immigration Education and Advocacy Initiative.

Community Conversation: Sisters on the Border

Community Conversation: Sisters on the Border

Mercy Adoga
July 21, 2021

On June 29, 2021, NETWORK hosted a community conversation with the “Sisters on the Borders.” Sr. Doreen Doreen, CSJ, and Sr. Patrice Patrice, CSJ engaged in conversation and shared their experiences.

Sr. Doreen began by mentioning a question she received prior to this conversation. The question was, “How did I become involved in this work?” Sr. Doreen expressed her gratitude for this question as it helped her reflect on her many years of service. She later went on to speak about her experience after Vatican II and how that time pushed her toward direct service. She visited jails, volunteered in homeless shelters, and taught ESL in Spanish-speaking communities. Sr. Doreen said when speaking about her work, “My commitment to living the Gospel led me to this.”

Sr. Patrice spoke next and also shared Sr. Doreen’s experience of reflecting prior to this conversation. Sr. Patrice spoke about her work with refugees in Cambodia, the border of Sudan and Ethiopia as well as Haiti. Sr. Patrice explained that all refugees want to stay in their home countries but their home is no longer safe for them for a variety of reasons including environmental concerns, gang violence, or government mismanagement. Sr. Patrice also joined other Sisters and volunteers in El Paso, Texas to assist migrants. She explained that one, “had to be open to what the needs were.”

With her most recent work in San Diego, CA, Sr. Patrice expressed her gratitude for the different organizations that came together regardless of background to assist refugees. She was also aware of the fact that refugees’ arrival in the states is just the beginning of their journey and that they face many challenges in the immigration process in the United States.

The latter half of the evening was led by Ronnate Asirwatham, NETWORK’s Government Relations Director, who took to explain immigration policies that the Sisters discussed such as Title 42 and MPP(Migrant Protection Protocols) After Ronnate explained these policies, viewers were given reflections questions to discuss in the breakout rooms. These questions included, “What has been your experience with immigration in your community?” “How have certain policies or laws impacted the situation at the border?” “What narratives about immigration do you hear in general? How do those compare to your experience?”

If you would like to learn more or re-watch this conversation, find the recording on NETWORK’s YouTube channel.


Mercy is a graduate student. She is one of the summer volunteers at NETWORK this year and has been working on the Summer Immigration Education and Advocacy Initiative.