Category Archives: Immigration

Advent 2023, Week One Be Vigilant

This Advent Calls for Vigilance 

NETWORK Lobby offers Advent reflections

This Advent Calls for Vigilance

Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM
December 1, 2023

Advent 2023, Week One Reflection: A Call for Vigilance

Readings for the First Sunday of Advent, December 3

Is 63: 16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7
Ps 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Cor 1: 3-9
Mk 13:33-37

The readings on the First Sunday of Advent call for vigilance. In the Gospel, Jesus instructs his disciples to be alert and watchful, careful not to be found sleeping when the time is nigh.  

This year, the NETWORK community has had countless opportunities to stay awake and to practice the virtue of vigilance. At a moment’s notice, we have called on faith-filled justice-seekers to protect the rights of asylum seekers in the United States. From the racist and problematic U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s CBP1 App, to the threat to cut funding to programs that serve asylum seekers, some Members of Congress continually proposed drastic changes to the asylum process. And how did you respond? Nearly 10,000 of you signed on to our letter calling on Congress to invest in welcoming communities. You have also called your Members of Congress and visited them. 

To receive all of NETWORK’s Advent 2023 reflections in your email inbox, sign up here!

We cannot grow complacent; we must stay awake and vigilant. Just this week, some Members of Congress are trying to decimate the asylum system in order to pass a funding bill. We cannot ignore their attempt to re-institute an asylum ban.  

In this Sunday’s first reading, Isaiah tells us the story of the people who longed for God to come down from on high with a force that would shake the mountains, but, instead, we are reminded that “we are the clay and you are the potter: we are all the work of your hands.” To participate in the building up of Welcoming Communities, we, too, seek to do the work of God. With the Psalmist, we turn our face to God, eager to have God show us the way to the building up of the Kin-dom here on Earth.  

To do this, we must all participate in the work to bring more abundant life to all of God’s people, because the hope for abundant life does not end at our borders. It does not stop to decide if someone has the proper documents. Abundant life is God’s hope for all of us—and we will continue to be vigilant and respond to any threat to take away someone’s chance at abundant life. 

To receive all of NETWORK’s Advent 2023 reflections in your email inbox, sign up here!

Fortunately, we are not alone in this work. Fortunately, the NETWORK community lives out this mission together. Our Spirit-filled community of justice-seekers has significantly influenced elected officials this year to ensure the federal government makes room for the people most in need in our communities.   

We draw strength and encouragement from living this shared mission together, and we draw our hope from the God who, according to St. Paul, remains faithful and will keep us firm to the end. 

Advent 2023, Week One Be Vigilant

Call to Action:

Congress is now back in session, and their first order of business is passing a package to meet the President’s supplemental funding request for aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. Unfortunately, some Members of Congress are pushing to decimate asylum in the U.S. as a condition of this deal.

Tell your Senators to protect asylum in the United States and not give into demands to change asylum law in order to get a funding deal passed. 

To receive all of NETWORK’s Advent 2023 reflections in your email inbox, sign up here!

The legislative priorities not passed before the end of the 117th Congress will continue to be priorities of NETWORK in 2024 and beyond!

Build Anew Series – Immigration

Build Anew Series — Part 2

Virginia Schilder
September 28, 2023
Welcome back to our new Build Anew Series, with weekly posts covering the people, policies, and values at the heart of the issues we work on. Today, in our second installation of the series, we’re focusing on Immigration.
Our Present Realities
NETWORK Government Relations Director Ronnate Asirwatham, a woman in a pink jacket, holds a microphone and speaks from behind a podium with a sign, "Invest in Welcoming Communities." Many other advocates with similar signs stand behind her.

NETWORK Government Relations Director Ronnate Asirwatham at the September 2023 Welcoming Communities press conference on Capitol Hill

A lot has been happening in U.S. immigration policy, so NETWORK’s staff and faith-filled supporters have been hard at work. Over the summer, NETWORK opposed the Biden administration’s “asylum ban”  and condemned the horrific mistreatment of migrants at the southern border. On August 31, NETWORK and our partners released a report detailing the horrors of the implementation of the new CBP One app, which US Customs and Border Protection has made the almost sole avenue for the asylum process. Please read the full report here, which includes several first-hand stories from people impacted. Then, on September 13, Catholic Sisters from across the U.S. joined NETWORK, members of Congress, and partners from the #WelcomeWithDignity Campaign on Capitol Hill at a press conference, where we called on Congress to invest in welcoming communities and divest from the militarization of the border. We presented Congress with a letter signed by over 7,000 Catholics(!), urging Congress to continue to fund the Shelter and Services Program (SSP).  

We do this work because our broken immigration system fails to meet the needs of our siblings and make our communities truly safe. Right now, asylum seekers are forced to wait at the southern border in inhumane conditions, subject to assault, torture, kidnapping, and rape — violence to which Black, disabled, and LGBTQ+ migrants are particularly vulnerable. Many immigrants are detained in uninhabitable detention facilities, often torn from their families. 

On top of that, racism in immigration policy persists, as Black and Haitian asylum seekers in our country are still being expelled and deported without a hearing. For those who have been granted paperwork to remain in the U.S., racist policies and practices make it more difficult for immigrants of color to access care, transportation, and other basic needs than white immigrants. As The Center for Health Progress explains,  

“Until we clearly root out the inherent racism that is the foundation of our immigration policies, we will unlikely create an immigration system that is fair, just, and that creates a viable pathway for more immigrants to call the US home—something a vast majority of us, regardless of our political views, say we want.” 

These conditions, and the policies that create them, continue because of fear — what Pope Francis calls “alarmist propaganda.” Politicians in power scapegoat immigrant families and create a fabricated competition for jobs and resources — even though our economy relies on immigrant workers, who comprise 17.4% of the U.S. workforce. This xenophobia creates a culture of fear and scarcity that hurts all of us.  

The reality is, immigrants are already our families and our communities. A quarter of children in the U.S. have at least one immigrant parent. Yet, some people in power do not want to recognize immigrants as belonging to our communities, because that would mean acknowledging a responsibility for their wellbeing.  The refusal to welcome immigrants is a refusal to share power; a refusal to extend to others the same rights, powers, and privileges we enjoy; a refusal to open our hearts to another and accepting the possibility of being changed. 

Our Call to Welcome  

 As members of the human family, we are called to extend compassion interpersonally and structurally to people in need. In the same way that God’s love is not limited to country, our central commandment to love one another cannot stop at national lines. We cannot use borders to justify exclusion, to decide who “belongs” and who is an “alien.” Our faith invites us past the illusions of disconnection created by structures of oppression, and to instead recognize that we are of one global community, all children of God.   

Scripture explicitly calls us to welcome and love migrants and refugees: When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev 19:33-34). Borders should never be used as an excuse to turn away and ignore the real cries and suffering of our siblings.   

The Catholic view of the human person validates the strivings of each person to seek a safe and good life for themselves and their families. The Catholic tradition is clear that all people have a right to migrate, and that all nations have an imperative to welcome and accept them. Pope Francis, himself the child of an immigrant, told a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress:  

“On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.” 

Catholic Social Teaching affirms that each person belongs to a single, interconnected human family, irrespective of country of origin or immigration status. We are all neighbors, and our health and wellbeing depend on each others’. The unequal and unjust treatment of our immigrant siblings is a critical area to build anew if we hope to shape a more just and inclusive democracy for everyone.  

Ongoing Advocacy  

Gratefully, we have the work of justice-seekers like NETWORK Government Relations Director Ronnate Asirwatham, who continues to work to ensure that both immigrants and the communities who welcome them will not be divided by racism and xenophobia. Currently in D.C., the bipartisan Senate is desperately trying to keep the government open. Meanwhile, some Republicans in the House are threatening to shut down the government unless H.R. 2 becomes law. H.R. 2 is a bill that separates families at the border and will hold unaccompanied children in jail-like conditions. No Democrat voted for H.R. 2 in the House, and it has not even made it to the Senate. Asirwatham explains,

“Many of our Representatives today are telling us that unless we throw our neighbors into the fire, they will shut down the government, and cut programs that help our children eat or go to school. We will not be divided. We will continue to tell our Members of Congress that we are for policies that lift us all up, and they should be, too.” 

Join us again next week for our next installation of the Build Anew Series on a just economy. And, stay tuned for our upcoming Build Anew Series videos on Instagram (@network_lobby) and Facebook.  

WATCH: Click here to watch a recording of NETWORK’s Congress, Keep Your Promise webinar about our current campaign to ensure Congress funds critical human needs programs and to learn how you can get involved.
Manufactured Crises in Politics Hurt Vulnerable People.

The Smoke of Manufactured Crises

The Smoke of Manufactured Crises 

When Fearmongering Clouds Our View, We Risk Embracing Terrible Policy  

Ronnate Asirwatham
August 8, 2023
Ronnate speaks into a microphone at an outdoor event. She wears a coat and a red hat. Behind her is a board with heart-shaped sticky notes with writing on them.

Ronnate Asirwatham is NETWORK’s Director of Government Relations

When we see smoke where it shouldn’t be, for instance in a residence or other building, our survival mechanisms kick in, and we move as quickly as we can in the opposite direction. This is a natural, even understandable response. But in Washington, the old saying “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” could be replaced with a new formulation, which goes something like, “Where there’s smoke, there’s somebody trying to goad you into doing the wrong thing.”  

A fire is an emergency. But a fake fire, a manufactured crisis, is more like a virus that has infected our politics. This year has seen several of them playing out, all of them set intentionally, all of them engineered to try to get someone else to do the wrong thing, whether out of fear or other questionable motives. When someone buys into the toxic narrative of a manufactured crisis, they hasten the harm they sought to avoid. Anthony De Mello, a Jesuit priest, once noted that reality cannot hurt us, but our reaction to it can. That wisdom applies here. 

Most recently, we witnessed the debt ceiling debacle, in which House Republicans demanded a budget that slashed vital human needs programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, and WIC in exchange for raising the debt ceiling and keeping the U.S. from defaulting on its debt. Never mind that the same Members of Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling without any conditions three times during the Trump administration. The threat of default was a purely manufactured crisis employed by these members to get President Biden and Democrats to do something that their constituents didn’t want them to do.  

While the deal struck between the President and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy could have been far, far worse, it will still impact millions of people who rely on SNAP for their basic food security. And placing the burden on people living in poverty is a morally abhorrent way to reduce deficits in the federal budget, especially when raising revenue through taxes on the ultra-wealthy and corporations would be far more effective.  

Sadly, making life more difficult for communities of people who need support is an element all of these fake crises have in common. At the state level, we have seen this year a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills (over 400 as of April!) introduced in legislatures across the country. These bills stoke a narrative of hysteria that presents drag queens and transgender people as the greatest threat to children. Not gun violence or Christian nationalism. It’s especially alarming because manufactured crises at the expense of marginalized groups of people is a well-documented tactic of authoritarian regimes in their efforts to grab and consolidate power against the will of the majority.  

Finally, we have the U.S.-Mexico border and the insistent bad faith chorus decrying the very conditions that they made possible by inconsistent and inhumane policies at the border. By not wishing to be portrayed as weak on the border, the Biden administration has perpetuated enforcement-only measures, such as the asylum ban, which exact a terrible human toll on people fleeing violence and other dangerous situations in their home countries. NETWORK and our immigration coalition partners opposed these rules by the Administration, as we also oppose bad bills in Congress, such as the Secure the Border Act (H.R.2) and a bipartisan Senate bill aimed at replacing Title 42.  

What then can we do? We must stay awake and vocally oppose the efforts of those trying to goad us into doing the wrong thing. The more we change our behavior out of fear of what bad actors might say or do, the more we ensnare ourselves in those webs. We owe the vulnerable people targeted by these manufactured narratives a response of true solidarity. That is the healthy defensive response that needs to be developed in our politics. Rather than the smoke of fake crises, we should be devoting our energy to kindling the fire of justice, renewing the face of the earth. 

Ronnate Asirwatham is NETWORK’s Director of Government Relations. In 2023, Washingtonian Magazine named her among the 500 most influential people in Washington for the second year in a row. 

This column was published in the Quarter 3 2023 issue of Connection. 
Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM, speaks at a reparations vigil in Cleveland in June 2022.

The Welcoming Call

The Welcoming Call 

Solidarity with Migrant People is Intrinsic to the Vocation of Catholic Sisters

Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM
August 1, 2023
Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM, pictured with Eilis, amember of the Congolese community in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM, pictured with Eilis, a member of the Congolese community in Cleveland, Ohio.

For generations, Catholic Sisters in the U.S. have served alongside immigrant communities. Time and again, we have responded to the call to open our homes and hearts to meet the needs of families seeking asylum or newly arrived refugees. Our sisters and our communities have sponsored refugees, opened service agencies, taught English as a second language (ESL), served along the border, accompanied individuals and families, represented them in court, and advocated for just immigration policies. In so many ways, we have lived the call in Scripture to welcome the stranger and love our neighbor as ourselves.  

My own story of ministry is a part of this multi-generational call. In 2010, I began my own journey working with the Somali refugee community in St. Cloud, Minn. In subsequent years, I ministered alongside people from Bhutan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma (Myanmar), Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, and so many other countries. I learned about the asylum system in Immokalee, Fla. and witnessed the conditions that force a person to flee their homeland in Haiti or Guatemala. My own community, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, remains connected through the sponsorship of Mary’s House in Cleveland. This work connects me with generations of sisters who have felt this call.  

Ministering alongside asylum seekers, refugees, DACA recipients, and other immigrants has shifted the way many of us Sisters understand immigration policy. We can no longer distance ourselves from the dangerous anti-immigrant rhetoric that has energized lawmakers to pass legislation to shut down and militarize the border, expand Title 42, deport asylum seekers from Haiti, or create an app that only recognizes white faces. 

These horrible policies impact the people who are a part of my extended community. They affect our neighbors. They affect members of our own family. We no longer have the luxury of waiting for Congress to fix the broken immigration system; we must do our part to ensure that a just and equitable immigration system remains at the forefront of our representatives’ minds.  

It was this sense of urgency that drove over 100 sisters and associates and their sponsored ministries to Washington DC in December 2021 to march for, pray for, and call for the end of Title 42. At that event, Sisters shared stories of ministering at the border, in Florida with the Haitian community, and in cities across the country. We shared a common understanding that our lives are forever changed by time spent ministering in El Salvador, Honduras, and many other countries. 

We shared with each other our own experiences of accompanying a family seeking asylum, only to watch helplessly as they were turned away by Border Patrol, or telling an individual that, according to current policy, they do not have a valid asylum claim even though a return to their home country would most certainly result in death. We also shared about moments of community — of shared meals of pupusas or beans and rice that made the Body of Christ a tangible offering that widened our understanding of community. All of these moments further strengthened our deeply held belief that the country’s immigration system needs an overhaul. 

As women religious, our individual community’s charism informs how we respond to the call to minister alongside our country’s diverse immigrant communities and advocate for justice. While our ministerial actions might vary, we all believe that all people, no matter their country of origin, economic status, family composition, gender or sexual orientation, or reason for migrating, deserve the opportunity to apply for asylum.  

This is the foundation of our belief as Christians: that all people reflect the Imago Dei — the image of the loving God who created them. Therefore, we will continue to call on our elected officials to stop playing politics with the lives of our immigrant siblings and create an immigration system that works for all people. 

Sr. Eilis McCulloh, HM is NETWORK’s Education and Organizing Specialist and a co-host of the podcast Just Politics, produced in collaboration between NETWORK and U.S. Catholic magazine.  

This column was published in the Quarter 3 2023 issue of Connection. 
Biden's Aggressive Asylum Ban Causes Great harm

Care for the Border

Care for the Border 

True Investment Means a Move from Militarization to Community 

Briana Jansky
July 25, 2023

A child wearing a cap walks with a backpack and a stuffed animal at the US-Mexico borderWhen the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the world in its path in 2020, the Trump administration used it as an excuse to prevent asylum seekers from coming through at the U.S.-Mexico border. These policies aggressively restricted access to ports of entry for those who were fleeing imminent danger. Now, three years later and with the state of emergency officially ended, migrants still face unjust policies and unethical barriers that prevent them from safely seeking asylum in the United States. 

Asylum is a necessity and a human right. In his message for the 2023 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis writes that “even as we work to ensure that in every case migration is the fruit of a free decision, we are called to show maximum respect for the dignity of each migrant; this entails accompanying and managing waves of immigration as best we can, constructing bridges and not walls, expanding channels for a safe and regular migration. In whatever place we decide to build our future, in the country of our birth or elsewhere, the important thing is that there always be a community ready to welcome, protect, promote and integrate everyone, without distinctions and without excluding anyone.” 

In contrast to a witness like this from the world’s most prominent religious leader, in the U.S., policymakers struggle to provide ethical and welcoming pathways and policies for migrant people. The U.S. government refuses to enforce the law, where asking for asylum is legal regardless of the manner of entry to the country, and continues to focus on more militarization. Increased militarization at the border continues to make life even more difficult for incredibly vulnerable people and harms the fabric of solidarity in communities. 

Policy Breakdown  

The Title 42 expulsion policy, a pandemic rule put in place by President Trump and continued under President Biden, allowed U.S. officials to swiftly turn away migrants seeking asylum at the border. While Title 42 ended on May 11, when President Biden ended the public health emergency, the Administration has expanded and enacted other policies to further attack the right to asylum, despite President Biden’s promise to put an end to such practices. The new laws are the most aggressive ban on asylum the U.S. has seen in almost 30 years, preventing access to protection for migrants at the border by over 50 percent.  

A May 11 statement from 16 Catholic organizations — including NETWORK, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Hope Border Institute, Kino Border Initiative, Franciscan Action Network, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, and Pax Christi USA — gave voice to Catholic outrage over the move: 

“Through continued restrictions on asylum and the militarization of the border, the U.S. government has shut the door to many of our siblings who are calling out for help. This failure to provide welcome sends a clear message to the rest of the world that the U.S. will not keep its previous asylum promises and instead continues to turn away from those most in need,” the statement said.  

The Biden administration’s new rule — the “Asylum Ban” — guts current asylum law. Currently, it is legal and right for people seeking asylum to come into the U.S. and ask for asylum at the border or after crossing it and encountering any government agent. The Biden administration has superimposed the Asylum Ban onto this law.  

“The current Asylum Ban policy is set for one goal and one goal only — to keep people out. Policies supporting asylum must uphold the national and international protection norms, and this rule does not do that,” says Ronnate Asirwatham, Government Relations Director at the Network.

The current rule makes setting up an appointment via app the sole means of accessing asylum in the U.S. Use of the CBO One app disproportionately affects Black, Brown and Indigenous immigrants because their access to technology is harder, and they are discriminated against three times as much as lighter skinned immigrants.  

“The proposed rule seeks to make migrants passing through other countries first claim asylum in those countries, and in most cases, especially for Black, LGBTQ+, and Indigenous immigrants, that is impossible,” notes Asirwatham. “The ways in which these laws are applied target the only way that people can seek asylum and this truly affects the most vulnerable.”  

“These people who are migrating are still there, and still need our help,” points out Marisa Limon Garza, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy center. “It’s troubling that so many people are unclear about their path forward. We’re still unclear about a lot of the logistics and what will come next.”  

“In our attempt to provide fundamental humanitarian aid to those most vulnerable, our community gets policed as though we are criminals for being good Samaritans.”
—Patrick Giuliani

Many migrants face dangerous conditions in their home countries, including extortion and torture, only to be met with resistance and restraint at the border. Turning them away from safety and security doesn’t make those problems go away, and deterring and detaining them only leads to a host of other issues.  

“People on the move face lots of dangers,” says Mayte Elizalde, communications specialist at the Hope Border Institute. “Migrants in different countries are targets for violent attacks. In Mexico, there are reports of people being extorted by authorities.”  

The Footprint of Militarization 

Instead of creating policies that result in an intricate system of oppression of human rights, the government could enforce the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which clearly states that seeking asylum is a legal right regardless of the way one enters the United States. The U.S. government could also fund and train more people to help evaluate asylum seekers’ applications and assist the organizations at the border and in the interior that welcome migrants with food, water, and adequate shelter, and promote agency and well-being. The U.S. government aids detention centers significantly more, funding them up to 200 times more than organizations that are focused on serving and caring for migrants.  

In Mexico, there is a lack of transparency around the conditions of the detention centers, and the human costs are catastrophic. The sordid conditions rose to U.S. national news back in April, when 40 migrants died in a fire that broke out at a detention center in Ciudad Juárez.  

“Based on reports of the detention center in Ciudad Juárez, it showed that the center was lacking clean water, food, or hygiene products,” notes Elizalde. “What happened in these detention centers was a reflection on what our immigration system does. Mexico has now become a host country and has not met the humanitarian needs of the people they have accepted to host. … The U.S. creates policies that force people to be in a country where they are not taken care of, but instead put in danger.” 

It is not only detention centers outside of the U.S. that are failing to meet the basic needs of immigrants, but ones within the U.S as well. There have been repeated warnings and reports of inhumane and illegal policies and practices that take place in CBP custody, and yet the U.S. government has not done anything. In May, Anadith Alvarez, an 8-year-old Panamanian girl, died at a U.S. detention center in Texas. She was the third child to die in U.S government custody in six months.  

“These people who are migrating are still there, and still need our help.”
—Marisa Limon Garza

As NETWORK lobbies Congress and the Administration to move the U.S. government away from militarization and toward building community, organizations such as the Hope Border Institute, Kino Border Initiative, and the Haitian Bridge Alliance see first-hand how current policy harms everyone.  

“We often welcome groups from all across the country to learn about the binational community at the border and what people migrating today are facing. Last year we had to complain to port officials because we noticed that students of color were being more frequently sent to secondary inspection or asked more questions, even though they were born in the U.S.,” says Sr. Tracey Horan, Associate Director of Education and Advocacy for the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Ariz. “It is frustrating to see how my coworkers of color who cross the border regularly face more checks and interrogation both at the ports and at checkpoints in the interior.”  

Patrick Giuliani, policy analyst at the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Texas, concurs: “We see the U.S. surge resources that are used to further criminalize migrants and police not only the border but our community. In our attempt to provide fundamental humanitarian aid to those most vulnerable, our community gets policed as though we are criminals for being good Samaritans.”  

Briana Jansky is a freelance writer and author from Texas. 

This column was published in the Quarter 3 2023 issue of Connection. 
Restore and Protect Asylum - -watch the NETWORK Lobby Webinar, Sign-on the the Letter to Congress, and more

Take Action to Restore and Protect Asylum

10,000 Signatures Needed from Catholic Advocates!

We are no longer accepting signatures for the letter.

Watch: Restoring Asylum & Dignity for Immigrants

The Restoring Asylum and Dignity for Immigrants webinar makes it clear — our country needs a well-funded, law-abiding asylum process that respects people seeking a new life in the U.S. All immigrants deserve dignity — no exceptions! Catholic justice-seekers*, we are collecting 10,000 signatures to let Congress know that NOW is time to invest in better, equitable immigration policy.

*NETWORK is offering another immigration justice action — in addition to the sign-on letter — for all justice-seekers. With one click, you will be taken to a letter that you can personalize, or just send, immediately. Click here to send an email to your Member of Congress. 

Help friends, family, & parishioners sign-on, too.

Action Everyone Can Take for Immigration Justice

Resources to support you when you take action to restore and protect asylum

Images from the Catholic Immigration Letter press conference in September 2023

Keep Up with NETWORK

Just Politics Catholic Podcast Season One

Catholic Organizations Urge Safety and Rights of Asylum Seekers as Title 42 Ends

Catholic Organizations Urge the U.S. Government to Promote the Safety and Rights of Asylum Seekers as Title 42 Ends

May 11, 2023

As Catholic organizations serving asylum seekers and people seeking safety, we urge the U.S. to promote the safety and rights of asylum seekers as Title 42 ends.

Today, we mark the termination of Title 42, a policy that critically limited or denied access to asylum for thousands of individuals and families seeking refuge and protection. But with the end of Title 42, we are appalled by the continuation of asylum restrictions through different measures enacted and proposed both by the Biden administration and Congress. With the new rules and proposed Congressional policies, the U.S. government is changing the asylum system as we have known it since 1980 and is failing to improve and provide protection to people seeking safety in a just and humane manner. Despite the government’s previous promises to protect the right to seek asylum, the new measures make asylum seekers pay the ultimate price.

We are deeply concerned by the Administration’s announcement yesterday that the Title 42 expulsion policy will be replaced by the final asylum ban rule. This rule will further restrict access to asylum by requiring individuals to first seek asylum in another country before coming to the U.S. It also includes extremely limited exceptions that will place many individuals and families in dangerous and life-threatening situations.

The Administration will continue to require that asylum seekers apply through CBP One application, a process that limits access to asylum due to its language, technical glitches, and requirement that individuals have a smartphone in order to seek protection. We also fear the use of Title 8, paired together with the new policy on credible fear interviews in CBP custody and other rushed processes of adjudication, will gut due process for immigrants all together.

The Administration’s announcement that 1,500 additional troops will be sent to the border raises additional concerns. We fear that further militarization of the border may compromise the safety and rights of those seeking safety and traumatize communities who live at the border.

In late April, the Biden Administration announced a new proposal to manage regional migration. We recognize that the Administration is taking steps to expand refugee resettlement and family reunification parole, measures that will provide a life-saving pathway for individuals and families in need of protection. Yet these expansions are part of a proposal that further restricts access to asylum for those arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, in Congress, we oppose bills in both the House and Senate that would severely cut access to asylum and limit the rights of asylum seekers. We call upon Congress to find long-term solutions to ensure that the U.S. has the processes in place to welcome and provide refuge for asylum seekers.

As organizations guided by Catholic values, we see it as our duty to welcome those in need of refuge. As recently stated by Pope Francis, “How sad and painful it is to see closed doors. The closed doors of our selfishness with regard to others; the closed doors of our individualism amid a society of growing isolation; the closed doors of our indifference towards the underprivileged and those who suffer; the doors we close towards those who are foreign or unlike us, towards migrants or the poor.”

We urge the U.S. government to promote the safety of asylum seekers and protect their rights. Through continued restrictions on asylum and the militarization of the border, the U.S. government has shut the door to many of our siblings who are calling out for help. This failure to provide welcome sends a clear message to the rest of the world that the U.S. will not keep its previous asylum promises and instead continues to turn away from those most in need.


NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Jesuit Refugee Service – USA
Hope Border Institute
Kino Border Initiative
Franciscan Action Network
Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico
Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns
Dorothy Day Catholic Worker – Washington DC
St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace and Ecology
Pax Christi – USA
Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology
Franciscan Network for Migrants – USA
Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services Inc
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team
Catholics Against Racism in Immigration (CARI)
Quixote Center

Photo of produce on grocery store shelves.

End of Health Emergency Will Impact Immigration, Other Human Needs

End of Public Health Emergency Will Impact Immigration, Other Human Needs

JoAnn Goedert, Ignatian Volunteer Corp Member
Government Relations Special Contributor
May 8, 2023

President Biden has announced that the federal government’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) will end on May 11. The Emergency has been in effect since early 2020, and its termination signals a welcome easing of the tragic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for millions of our neighbors who struggle at or near the poverty in the U.S., and for those hoping to enter the country at our borders, the implications of the PHE’s end will be significant.

Impacts on Domestic Human Needs

In recognition of the economic devastation of the pandemic, benefits were added and eligibility and reporting requirements were suspended for many federal programs, but only until the end of the PHE. For individuals and families living at or near the poverty level, the consequences of terminating these protections will be serious, especially in the areas of health care and food assistance.

“Unwinding” of Medicaid Continuous Enrollment Protections: Pandemic legislation provided enhanced Medicaid funding and authorized Medicaid recipients to keep their coverage until the end of the PHE without having to re-certify their eligibility on a regular basis. Not surprisingly, enrollment in Medicaid grew by over 23 million during the pandemic. However, in December Congress prematurely ended this enrollment protection and instead allowed states to begin “unwinding” the continuous enrollment in April.

Some states already have aggressively begun disenrolling Medicaid recipients, many of whom may be unaware that their enrollment is in jeopardy and even more who will struggle to rapidly document their current eligibility. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that up to 15 million individuals will be disenrolled in the coming months, and that nearly half of those who lose coverage are in fact eligible but unable to surmount the bureaucratic challenges of proving it. As a result of the unwinding of Medicaid continuous enrollment, the number of uninsured adults and children in the U.S. is predicted to soar, with tragic consequences for families and massive new burdens on health care system.

Restoration of SNAP Benefit Limits for Individuals Without Jobs: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has strict and complex work requirements for “able bodied adults without dependents” under age 50 that terminate their benefits after three months unless they can prove that they are employed or in a job training program. In response to widespread unemployment during the pandemic, the government suspended that three-month limit. With the end of the PHE, however, this suspension will cease for most SNAP participants on June 30, and these individuals will once again be limited to only three months of SNAP eligibility while unable to meet the work requirements in any three-year period.

March 1 Termination of SNAP Emergency Benefit Allotments: It is important also to note that increases in SNAP benefits provided as pandemic relief were ended nationwide by March 1. This substantial reduction in benefits amounted to an average of approximately $90 per month per individual and over $200 per month for most struggling families. Soup kitchens and food banks nationwide already have reported an overwhelming increase in need since the cut.

Phase-out of SNAP Benefit Expansion for Students: In addition, pandemic legislation extended SNAP eligibility to many more higher education students. With the end of the PHE, their eligibility will be phased out over the next year. Here is an explanation of this change in student SNAP eligibility.

Impact on Immigration

Termination of Title 42: Title 42 expulsion policy is a Trump administration order issued in 2020, purportedly as a public health measure, that allowed border authorities to expel migrants without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum. Public health experts have long declared that Title 42 is not related to any health measure. Reports are that the rule has been used more than two million times to abruptly turn back immigrants since 2020.

Title 42 will expire with termination of the PHE, and the expulsions are set to end on May 11. However, NETWORK is deeply alarmed that, the new measures announced by the Biden administration to purportedly ease pressures at the border, comes at the expense of the right to seek asylum at our southern border and does not support a just and humanitarian immigration policy.

NETWORK is monitoring the critical impacts of these policies and protections that end with the termination of the PHE. We will share this information with you, along with any calls for action that they may require to safeguard the welfare of our neighbors in the U.S. and at the southern border.

Your Public Comments Against the Asylum Ban are Appreciated

Your Public Comments Against the Asylum Ban are Appreciated

Your Public Comments Against the Asylum Ban are Appreciated

NETWORK’s Spirit-filled community submitted over 850 public comments in response to President Biden’s proposed asylum ban. Thank you, this is the largest response we have ever had to a call for our supporters to write an immigration comment!  And you did not act alone. Supporters of our faith and secular partners, and individuals across the country, also contributed to the 51,952 total submissions (as of Sunday, April 2).

It’s not too late to let President Biden know that justice-seekers demand a fair asylum — or tell hime again. Will you use the form below to let President Biden know that you oppose his asylum ban?

Thank You!

NETWORK justice-seekers recently came together to submit public comments against an immigration ban proposed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (officially called Circumvention of Lawful Pathways). The ban is essentially a retread of the asylum ban that President Trump instituted and was found to be in violation of immigration law. Together, nearly 900 NETWORK supporters made their voices heard on this issue.

As an immigration lobbyist and passionate advocate for a safe and dignified asylum process, I am awed and humbled. But we must continue our efforts to protect people seeking safety in our country — the asylum process as we know it is still in jeopardy!

This is not the end. Continue to Take Action!

The Biden Administration is doubling down on anti-asylum policies. After the Title 42 expulsion policy expires on May 11th, the Administration is highly likely to push through parts, if not all, of this rule. We cannot remain silent about the deterrence policies that do not work and lead to great harm, and even death, of people who are seeking protection.

Let President Biden know that his asylum ban must be rescinded, and that justice-seekers like you oppose any asylum policy that creates new barriers for vulnerable people seeking freedom and security in our country.

The U.S. has been a beacon for fair and humane asylum for people seeking refuge and opportunity. Thank you for acting to preserve this shared, honored value.

In solidarity,

Ronnate Asirwatham

Take Action!

Take Action: Let President Biden Know, Justice-seekers oppose harmful asylum changes!

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Write a Public Comment to Oppose the Proposed Biden Administration Asylum Ban

Write a Public Comment to Oppose the Proposed Biden Asylum Ban

Write a Public Comment to Oppose the Proposed Biden Asylum Ban


The Biden Administration is taking comments on a proposed asylum ban. NETWORK justice-seekers recognize it as a new version of a harmful Trump-era anti-asylum seeker policy and are coming together to oppose the proposed asylum ban. Join us and write a Public Comment to oppose the proposed Biden asylum ban!

March 9-27


This campaign is to oppose a proposed Biden Administration asylum policy change that would violate our faithful call to welcome our neighbor and decades old U.S. immigration law. Write a Public Comment to oppose the proposed Biden Administration asylum ban to stand in solidarity with our siblings seeking safety from harm at the southern border.

  • Introduce yourself. Be sure to include your religious order, career title, or any involvement in your community, including a house of worship you may attend.
  • Choose a reasons or two why you oppose the policy.  Need some help? Scroll below for Talking Points, but don’t rely too much on them!
  • Highlight why you oppose the proposed ban Share any immigration support work you’ve done, share a moral tale, use examples of Jesus welcoming travelers or God sending people on safe passages.
  • If you have a story to share, share it! Asylum seekers have found safety in our communities, churches, workplaces, etc. Do you have a personal story, or will you share one that belongs to a friend or family member?

Here’s what to do after you’ve written your public comment:

  • Check for uniqueness. Before you press send, check to be sure that at least one-third (33%) of your public comment is original to you. Submissions that are copy and paste regurgitations of talking points will not be considered by reviewers.
  • Share your submission on social media:  After you submit your form, you will see a prompt to share your advocacy action on Twitter or Facebook. It’s important that our words spread, so please take the time to share on one your social media accounts.  #ImmigrationPublicComment or #NoAsylumBan or @NETWORKlobby. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at

More Talking Points

  • President Biden’s Administration has proposed a new asylum ban that is eerily similar to one that existed in the Trump era. It will close the southern border to asylum seekers and change asylum law and practice as we know it. During the Trump era, the court declared such a ban illegal. This ban will separate families, expose asylum seekers to violence at the border, and discriminate against black, brown and indigenous asylum seekers
  • Our neighbors seeking asylum are amongst the most vulnerable people in the world and we are called by faith, and our sense of the common good, to welcome them to safety. U.S. immigration law provides a legal process to apply for safety in our country. Sadly, President Biden’s revival of an asylum ban similar to President Trump’s is a moral failure that disregards decades of settled law.
  • NETWORK supporters will come together to show solidarity to migrants and oppose the Biden Administration asylum proposal by writing a Public Comment against the harmful policy.
  • While the administration has attempted to distinguish its asylum ban from Trump’s policies, it still has the same effect: denying asylum seekers the protection they need in the United States. The rule they are proposing would ban many refugees from asylum protection in the United States based on their manner of entry into the United States and transit through other countries.
  • This asylum ban, like Trump’s, will separate families and lead to the return of asylum seekers to harm and possible death. It will disproportionately harm Black, Brown, and Indigenous asylum seekers requesting safety at the U.S. southern border – who often cannot afford to arrive in the U.S. by plane.
  • Indigenous women and girls, many of whom will likely be barred by the rule, are at heightened risk for sex and human trafficking, extortion, and violence due to the continued erasure of their Indigenous identities, language exclusion, and ongoing discrimination they face throughout their journeys.
  • Our U.S. laws and treaties protect asylum seekers and prohibit their return to persecution and torture. Our laws also explicitly guard an asylum seeker’s right to seek protection regardless of how they arrive in the United States.
  • The rule would unlawfully deny protection to asylum seekers and require them to seek asylum in countries that do not have functional asylum systems and where they may still be in harm’s way.

Join the Campaign!

This campaign has ended.

Our Values Root Our Call to Welcome Our Siblings

Our communities are enriched by the diversity of experiences, cultures, and traditions that all of us, including people who are immigrants, bring to our neighborhoods. All of us want to provide our family with the food and shelter needed to live a thriving life. For too long, our immigrant siblings at the southern border have been harmed by a broken U.S. asylum system. Instead of enacting policy to build anew an equitable asylum process, the Biden Administration has chosen to make life dangerous and difficult for people seeking safety and freedom — especially Black, Brown, and indigenous people. People of faith must demand better.

More Details

The Administration is asking the public to share opinions on this rule and will consider our comments before issuing the final version. Please write a unique comment to tell them how this rule will harm asylum seekers.

The government is required to review and respond to comments in writing in the Federal Register. You can see in this proposed asylum ban that there are dozens of pages with anonymized summarizations and responses to public comments, including rules changes that were made in response to public comments. To make sure the government counts and considers your comment, please edit our pre-drafted text to make it unique – duplicate comments will otherwise be lumped together and responded to as one.

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