Category Archives: Policy Update

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.

NETWORK Letter to President Biden on the Debt Ceiling

NETWORK Letter to President Biden on the Debt Ceiling

Download the PDF of letter here

The Honorable Joseph Biden
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden:

On behalf of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and our 100,000 justice seekers around the country, I write to commend you for your strong stance in budget discussions against cuts to programs that children, older Americans, veterans, and people struggling to afford their basic needs from harmful cuts. Your commitment to protecting policies that decrease poverty and sustain health care and food assistance for low-income Americans is greatly appreciated and urgently necessary.

Our shared Catholic faith calls us to put those struggling on the margins of society at the center of our concern. As you have noted throughout your Administration, for far too long, the wealthy and well-connected have used their power to benefit themselves, leaving our communities and families vulnerable. Your Administration has changed this trajectory by investing in building our communities anew and asking the wealthy to contribute their fair share to support the common good. This is Catholic social justice in word and in deed.

Nearly two decades of Republican leadership have added trillions of dollars to the national debt through the budget-busting Bush and Trump tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefited the rich and major corporations.  Now, those same leaders are using that debt ceiling as an excuse to hold the nation, hostage, by threatening a catastrophic default unless your Administration agrees to cuts to health care, food assistance, resources for cracking down on wealthy tax cheats, and more.

Your Administration is fighting against those who have foisted one of the biggest lies on the American people – that as rich people get richer, we all benefit. This well-funded effort is attacking a cornerstone principle of your agenda, one that calls for robust federal investment in people and community while asking the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes.

Your Administration’s policies have resulted in historic gains in employment for marginalized communities, investment in infrastructure, and stemmed economic collapse during the COVID pandemic. This cornerstone is what House Republican leaders reject and what this debate is really about.

We urge you to hold strong on your promise to protect programs like MEDICAID, SNAP and TANF from cuts or new time limits. Your Administration has fought too hard to create a better today for our children, our veterans, and our seniors to allow millions to go hungry, to lose healthcare, or to lose income support.

As Catholics, we believe that those who have the most must contribute to the common good. It is immoral for our national debt to be shouldered by children, veterans, seniors, and those struggling to put food on the table and a roof overhead.

Our prayer is for your continued commitment to justice.


Mary J. Novak
Executive Director

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

Biden Administration Restored Pre-Trump Era Public Charge Regulations

2023 Immigration Policy Update

Ronnate Asirwatham, Government Relations Director
February 9, 2023

The 118th Congress has been sworn in and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (CA-22), who presides over the House with a slim four-person majority, has completed his House Chair and Committee assignments. While there is a shift in power in Washington D.C., this immigration policy update will show that when it comes to immigration policy in 2023, things are much the same.

We all want to live in safe communities with our families and friends, and our faith compels us to help our neighbors when they are in distress. Recent activity and policy proposals from Congress and the Administration will lead to harm for our siblings fleeing violence in their communities (and hoping for a chance to thrive in the U.S.) as well as people without legal status. In this blog, I will look at immigration policy activity in Congress, the Administration, and give you next steps.  

A Win for Immigration Activists and Just and Humane Policy 

This year, the House led off with a bill aimed at discouraging people from certain countries from seeking asylum in our country. Republican Congressman Chip Roy (TX-21) sponsored H.R.29, The Border Safety and Security Act as the first of ten pieces of legislation to go to the floor. H.R.29 would effectively seal the southern border to all asylum seekers.  

Due to the slim majority in the House, this bill, that is an affront to our sacred call to welcome the stranger, would have will most likely passed in the House, but Democratic control of the Senate made it highly unlikely that it would pass in that chamber. 

Immigration advocates knew that H.R.29 would set the stage for attacks on immigration – especially those thinly veiled with racism, like this one. Faith-based and secular immigration advocates aggressively lobbied against Roy’s bill. Several letters were sent to Congress noting that this bill would kill the right to seek asylum at our southern border and breach U.S. and international law, including letters signed by:   

  • 300 immigrant advocacy organizations (including NETWORK)   
  • Faith-based organizations (including NETWORK)
  • Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration Committee, a ministry started 100 years ago, which got the attention of several members of the House Republican Caucus. 

Justice-seekers united to stand up to power guided by the knowledge that a fair asylum process can only be built on just and humane policies. A significant number of Republican legislators signaled that they would not support H.R.29, and realizing that there were not enough votes to pass the bill, House Leadership pulled the harmful legislation from the floor,  

This was a huge victory for people seeking asylum and activists who support their freedom to seek asylum under U.S. law. And for NETWORK advocates, and all concerned with the common good, this win is evidence that when we work together to protect vulnerable people seeking a better life, we can defeat harmful, racist policy proposals. 

Interestingly enough, after the failure to pass H.R.29, some House Republicans tempered their anti-immigration rhetoric. Even Rep. Chip Roy took a pause. In public remarks he said, “Nobody is against asylum.” Friends, we cannot rest on our laurels. This is a momentous but, temporary, victory.

H.R.29 is not dead, it has limped off to the House Homeland Security Committee, where amendments can be made. As part of the legislative process, if it passes out of committee, we can see it again (that is, it receives enough yes votes in the smaller group that it is passed along for a full chamber vote). And NETWORK, and our coalition partners, will be ready to act against it if it returns to harm our siblings in the borderlands. 

Impeachment Talk for Secretary Mayorkas 

The Republican-led House has vowed to impeach Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. As a first step, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing called “Biden’s Border Crisis – Part I” on February 1st and the House Oversight Committee also held a hearing the first week of February. The purpose of these hearings is to gather evidence to impeach Secretary Mayorkas.  

On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats are working to stop President Biden from enacting rules banning asylum and an expanded Title 42 policy. More on that below. 

The Administration

On January 5, President Biden announced four policies that affect persons seeking safety in our country: 

  1. A parole program for Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans that sets up a series of ‘hoops to jump through’ for nationals from these countries – to find safety in our country’s borders. If they have a passport, can pay for their own ticket to the U.S., have not crossed into Panama or Mexico without papers, and fulfill eligibility criteria (including having a sponsor who can support them financially for two years), they may be granted a U.S. visa. It’s more of a lottery than a legitimate program, since the total number of visas granted across all nationalities is capped at 30,000 per month. 
  2. Expanded Title 42 expulsion policy to include Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans.
  3. Increased use of a Customs and Border Protections app (called CBP One) for asylum seekers waiting at the border to get an appointment at the port of entry. This is for land border crossers only.  
  4. A proposed update to the asylum ban similar to a Trump-era policy. The new rule prevents people from presenting their case for asylum if they enter between ports of entry at the southern border, and if they do not seek asylum in a third country that they have crossed through, to reach the United States. When President Trump issued a similar rule, it was deemed illegal in court because under U.S. law, anyone can ask for asylum regardless of how they enter the country. They are not guaranteed asylum but are guaranteed a right to seek asylum. It is appalling that President Biden is seeking to re-instate this ban that destroys due process at our southern border. Congressional Democrats are in opposition and are trying to discourage President Biden from officially proposing the rule. 

NETWORK opposes these proposals.

The expansion of Title 42 expulsion policy keeps vulnerable people in dangerous conditions as they wait to plead their case for immigration status. And attaching Title 42 to narrow parole programs that favor immigrants with the most resources does not support fair American values, and it fails to protect those most in need.  

The CBP One app favors asylum seekers with a phone and a data connection. The majority of people fleeing their homes and communities don’t have the means for such a luxury. And the app is fundamentally racist. It has consistently not recognized the faces of Haitian and other Black migrants, because it does not allow them to take their photographs. Effectively, racism in the technology has meant that a majority of Black migrants do not get CBP appointments.  

What’s Happening in the Courts? 

On March 1, the Supreme Court will hear (and hopefully decide) if states have the right to intervene at this late stage in the Title 42 case that has been working its way through lower courts. If they rule yes – the case will continue if they rule no it will be the end of Title 42 in April.  

There also might have DACA ruling that might come down. Read JoAnn’s blog for the present state of DACA in the courts (as of February 3, 2023) DACA is Under Immediate Threat from my NETWORK colleague, JoAnn Goedert. 

What’s Next for NETWORK? 

The Government Relations team is focused on the Biden proposals mentioned above, and I spend considerable time tracking committee action, keeping an eye out for bills in the making. This work to defend our freedom and justice is not ours alone. We are in coalition with secular and religious groups, and we follow the lead of Pope Francis. 

“Through his deeds and messages, the pope has placed the issue of migration—and the human rights of persons forced to migrate—at the center of his papacy.” America Magazine 

And, of course, NETWORK will call upon you for your advocacy to help us stop harmful bills and polices that violate the dignity of people seeking a life where they can work to pay their bills and raise their children in peace. We will also ask for your help to promote policies restore the right to seek asylum at the border.  

DACA is Under Immediate Threat

DACA is Under Immediate Threat

JoAnn Goedert, Ignatian Volunteer Corp Member
Government Relations Special Contributor
Updated June 15, 2023
Previous posts appeared on January 23, 2023 and October 27, 2022

In  JoAnn Goedert’s most recent DACA update, we learn that  Judge Andrew Hanen’s final order on the policy under which Dreamers have built homes, attended schools, and raised children is imminent. 

June 15, 2023

There may soon be a decision in the court case brought against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). In previous updates (see below), NETWORK has shared why DACA is under threat and the progress of Texas v. U.S., et al., the continuing court battle waged by a group of Republican state attorneys general to have DACA declared unlawful. On June 1, Judge Andrew Hanen held another hearing. The judge’s final order could come any day—or it could take months. The timing is entirely up to his discretion.

In 2021, Judge Hanen issued his first ruling in this case and agreed with these anti-immigrant officials that DACA is unlawful. His order barred the approval of any new DACA applications but included a stay that allowed current participants to remain in the DACA. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Hanen’s reasoning, returned the case to him for further proceedings, and continued to stay the enforcement of the decision against current DACA participants.  The Fifth Circuit’s actions resulted in last week’s hearing and will end with a final order by Judge Hanen.

For now, the status of the DACA program is unchanged, with no new approvals permitted and current DACA participants able to continue to benefit from it. Unfortunately, most legal immigration experts and advocates expect that Judge Hanen will once again declare DACA unlawful when he issues his next decision. Assuming that disappointing outcome, DACA will surely remain closed to new applicants and the government will appeal the decision to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Since the Fifth Circuit has already taken the position that DACA is likely unlawful, it is sadly likely that the Administration’s appeal of a negative decision by Judge Hanen will be unsuccessful, and that the case will then be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Judge Hanen is expected to continue to allow current DACA participants to continue in the program while the appeal process takes place. Otherwise, the Administration will rapidly seek a continuation of the current stay that protects their participation, and experts believe that the Fifth Circuit will allow it. If the Fifth Circuit were to change its position, the Administration would likely seek an immediate continuation of the stay in the Supreme Court. Few expect the courts to end DACA protections for current participants for at least as long as the current case is winding through the appeals process.

An appeal through both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court almost always takes many months to be resolved. Thus, it is possible that the Supreme Court would not rule on the legality of the DACA program until well into 2024 and, perhaps, until 2025. Meanwhile, there is some hope that the Administration will attempt to provide alternative, partial safeguards for Dreamers, and that there may be renewed interest in Congress to finally protect them with legislation.

Be assured that NETWORK will continue its efforts to promote positive immigration reform that offers permanent protection for our young immigrant Dreamers. And, we will alert justice-seekers and supports of developments in the DACA court case–  and any potential responses to it by the White House and Congress.

Updated on January 23, 2023 

Previously, JoAnn Goedert shared that DACA was under immediate threat. Sadly, the message in this update remains the same — the policy under which Dreamers have built homes, attended schools, and raised children remains on course to be struck down.

Whether Dreamers are teachers, landscape artists, or doctors, they are integral members of families, churches, and communities. Some people with political and judicial power fail to see their humanity, but we know they are our siblings in God’s beloved community and should not suffer as pawns in court proceedings. 

As JoAnn writes, “Once Judge Hanen issues his final decision, the case almost certainly will be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court.” As people of faith, we must be vigilant in our efforts to protect DACA. Working together, we can overcome the forces who want to remove our neighbors and family members from our country.

NETWORK will let you know when there is action you can take. For now, read on for JoAnn’s update and scroll further for her original blog. 

Texas v. U.S., et al.: In response to Texas v. U.S., a lawsuit challenging DACA’s legality by a group of Republican state attorneys general, Judge Andrew Hanen in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Texas ruled in 2021 that DACA is unlawful. He held that DHS failed to follow required regulatory process when it established DACA and that the agency did not have the power to create the program without Congressional legislation. The judge issued an order barring DHS from approving any new DACA applications but he allowed current participants to retain protection under DACA for now. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Judge Hanen’s reasoning and returned the case to him for further proceedings.

In October 2022, Judge Hanen held a hearing where he stated that he would likely decide to end DACA in the near future. His ultimate decision has been delayed, however, to give the parties an opportunity to file additional briefs in the case. At this time, we don’t expect movement until mid-Spring. DACA is under immediate threat and daily life for DACA recipients remains in jeopardy.

What Happens Next: In the October hearing, Judge Hanen reiterated that current DACA participants can continue in the program and apply for renewals, but that DHS cannot accept any new DACA applications. This means that current DACA holders still have all of the program’s protections. Once Judge Hanen issues his final decision, the case almost certainly will be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court. This process will likely extend into 2024, and it is hoped that, at least, the courts will allow the program to continue for current DACA participants during this time. Meanwhile, we know the Biden Administration is exploring alternative protections for Dreamers in preparation for negative court actions.

Congress’ Failure: As in earlier Congresses, legislation was introduced in 2021 to give DACA recipients permanent U.S. residency status. There was some hope, too, that Congress would act to ensure the program’s future during the final weeks of 2022. But once again, legislative efforts failed. There is little optimism that the program will fare better in the 118th Congress. Given the worrying signs from both the courts and Congress, we must all heed the warning of DACA advocates at United We Dream: “DACA is dying.”

October 27, 2022

10 Years of DACA: After repeated efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system failed—for lack of adequate Republican support—President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. DACA has provided children brought to this country in violation of established federal immigration law protection from deportation, employment authorization, and access to Social Security and Medicare benefits.  It has been a lifeline to young immigrants, also known as Dreamers, who came to the U.S. as children with undocumented status. While 800,000 participants have been able to build a life in this country under the program, DACA is under immediate threat, its future is in jeopardy.

The Trump Administration’s Attack on DACA: In 2017, the Trump administration cruelly attempted to rescind DACA, but the Supreme Court ruled that the rescission did not comply with the federal Administrative Procedures Act and narrowly upheld the program’s continuation. DACA has endured with support from the Biden Administration which recently issued proposed regulations–scheduled to take effect on October 31–under the APA to continue DACA permanently.   

The Current Threat to DACA in the Courts: Nonetheless, a group of Republican state attorneys general filed yet another challenge to DACA in a federal district court in Texas. In July 2021, Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that DACA is unlawful on the grounds that DHS did not follow proper APA procedures when it established the program, and that the agency lacked the authority to establish the program without Congressional authorization. The judge issued an injunction barring DHS from approving new DACA applications, but allowed current participants to continue in the program.

On appeal, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, known for its conservatism, upheld Judge Hanen’s decision. However, with the DHS’s new DACA regulations set to kick in on October 31, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to Judge Hanen for further consideration. 

What Happens Next:  In a hearing last week, Judge Hanen indicated that, despite the new regulations, he will very likely decide to end DACA in the near future. His final decision has not been issued yet, so current DACA participants can continue in the program and apply for renewals.  However, there is little reason for optimism.  As DACA advocates at United We Dream have warned, “DACA is dying.”

Judge Hanen’s signal makes it clear that DACA is under immediate threat. It is crucial that the Biden administration and Congress act to ensure the program’s future with immediate legislation. Congress will return shortly after the Midterm elections. Faith communities, and all people of good will, must advocate for DACA legislation this year to provide permanent protection for our nation’s Dreamers.

NETWORK Welcomes H.R.51 for D.C. Statehood Re-Introduction

NETWORK Welcomes H.R.51 for D.C. Statehood Re-Introduction 


On January 24, 2023, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, led a group of Senate Democrats in reintroducing S.51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, to make Washington, D.C. the 51st state and give Washington D.C. citizens full representation in Congress. This legislation is the Senate companion to H.R.51, introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia.

Minister Christian Watkins
January 18, 2023

On January 9, 2023, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) introduced H.R.51, the Washington D.C. Admission Act, to the 118th Congress. The bill was introduced with 165 original cosponsors, which Rep. Norton noted was the most cosponsors of any bill introduced that day.

Rep. Norton has introduced this bill on the first day of every Congress for decades. Each time it has gained more support. In June 2019, the D.C. Statehood Bill passed the House for the first time and it passed again in April 2021, with NETWORK Spirit-filled justice-seekers adding their voices to the call for D.C. Statehood.

NETWORK strongly supports the movement for D.C. statehood to uphold every citizen’s right and responsibility to participate in the political process as an expression of their inherent human dignity.

D.C. Statehood is a Racial Justice Issue

Voting representation is the foundation of our democracy, and if passed into law, this legislation would finally extend it to the people of D.C. With a majority Black and brown politically active population currently disenfranchised from representation, D.C. statehood is a racial justice issue.

The District houses nearly 700,000 citizens, a larger population than states like Wyoming and Vermont. All D.C. residents pay federal taxes and fulfill all other obligations of American citizenship and yet are denied full representation in our Congress and full local self-government.

As Rep. Norton noted when introducing the bill, “The United States was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot vote on the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live.” Many believe that establishing The District as a state will abolish the permanent seat of the federal government. But H.R. 51 does not abolish the national capital — it only shrinks it, making a new state of the District’s non-federal area.

Last year, the Biden administration committed its “strong support” for H.R.51 in a statement of administration policy and President Biden has promised to sign it into law if passed by Congress. Ending the continued disenfranchisement of a non-minority Black jurisdiction that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans without representation in Congress must become a reality. Congress must take this opportunity to correct this injustice and pass D.C. Statehood in both the House and the Senate during the 118th Congress.


* Currently, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton serves as a delegate, a non-voting representative to the United States House of Representatives. In the 118th Congress, the House has six non-voting members: a delegate representing the District of Columbia, a resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico, as well as one delegate for American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Delegates can introduce legislation and vote in committee, but generally cannot vote the passage of legislation in the full House.

Biden Administration Restored Pre-Trump Era Public Charge Regulations

Did Congress Strive for Economic and Social Transformation with the 2022 Omnibus Law?

As we begin a new year, NETWORK looks back to see whether Congress made inroads in economic and social transformation with the 2022 Omnibus Law. Every person in our country, whether they live on a sprawling estate, in a farmhouse along a country road, or in a public housing development, should have the resources they need to care for themselves and their families. Sadly, we know that lobbyists and dark money special interests work with some elected officials to block policies that would create just laws and equitable access to economic prosperity.

But NETWORK’s community of justice-seekers know that we can have just and equitable communities where all of us–not just the rich and powerful–can have thriving lives. When we work together and join our efforts with others who share our vision for a multi-racial democracy, we can bring about the economic and social transformation for which we strive.

One of the most important pieces of legislation for the Build Anew agenda last year was the $1.7 trillion FY2022 Omnibus. This bipartisan end-of-year spending package made significant investments in healthcare, housing, criminal legal systems reform as well as critical democracy reforms and investments in voting infrastructure to ensure free and fair elections.

For months, NETWORK advocates across the country (like you!) lobbied Congress to include policy priorities in the Omnibus package like the expanded Child Tax Credit, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented community members. Justice-seekers called, emailed, and tweeted to Congress, wrote Letters to the Editor, and attended rallies, to advocate for a federal budget that supports just and equitable communities where everyone can thrive. Thank you for your advocacy!

An Overview: Where did Congress Invest in Economic and Social Transformation with the 2022 Omnibus Law?

A Check List: Where did Congress Invest in Economic and Social Transformation with the 2022 Omnibus Law?Congress made significant progress toward eonomic and social transformational changes with the 2022 Omnibus in healthcare and housing. Medicaid recipients in Puerto Rico and U.S. territories, and Black mothers who are unable to pay for maternal healthcare receive more aid. For example, Medicaid coverage for new moms is guaranteed for 12 months and infants cannot be removed from Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, for a continuous 12 months, even if their family’s income changes.

Housing measures support people experiencing homelessness, public housing voucher recipients, people in rural communities, and homeowners.

Movement toward justice in the omnibus legislation is also noted in criminal legal system reforms where new laws bridge significant racial equity gaps in health care, access to housing, and equity in the judiciary and police forces. We hope the funding leads to improved health outcomes and treatment by the criminal legal system for Black, brown and indigenous communities.

The omnibus also includes critical democracy reforms that shore up Presidential elections (Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act of 2022) and a $75M investment in election security grants to ensure all votes are counted by continuing provisions from the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

Sometimes, Policy Not Included in a Bill is a Positive Result

NETWORK celebrates the harm avoided in the omnibus. For example, the continued misuse of Title 42 cannot be part of a fair, humane asylum process. It was not codified into law thanks to Democratic Members of Congress who rebuked attempts to incorporate outdated public health policy into permanent immigration law.

Movement Toward Justice in a Polarized Congress

We are disappointed that significant NETWORK priorities were left out of the package but appreciate that Congress took steps toward social and economic reform with some of the omnibus investments. Ultimately, the bipartisan passage of the FY2022 omnibus package was a significant accomplishment in a polarized Congress.

The leadership of Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), now retired, and House Appropriations Chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) allowed Congress to reach an agreement and fund the government before the end of the year. However, it is unacceptable that more Members of Congress did not support including needed policies like a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, the expanded Child Tax Credit, and the EQUAL Act.

NETWORK will continue making these issues top legislative priorities into the future and – with your help – continue building support for these common-good policies in the 118th Congress.

Reclaim Rev. King’s Dream, Repair What Has Been Broken

Reclaim Rev. King’s Dream, Repair What Has Been Broken

A Recommittal to Build Anew

After a restless and tumultuous midterm election year, we entered 2023 with bated breath and anxiety over what is to come. The initial days of this 118th Congress provided negligible relief. Four days of disputatious debate and back-room negotiations making international headlines, demonstrations of ineffective leadership, and stirring spectacles of brute disputes in the House chamber were newsworthy manifestations of similar occurrences on the local, state and federal level that we have seen for too many years to count. Not to mention remembering January 6th, the insurrection’s aftereffects, investigation, and repudiation thereof. Politically, these past 16 days have been a whirlwind, and we have 349 to go.

One of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s final socio-theological inquiries remains with us nearly 55 years after his ascent to the ancestral realm. “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?” This decades-long question needs a robust, faith-filled response THIS year. Ourselves, our children, and the whole of Creation deserve it. Future generations depend on it.

Beyond Rev. King’s Civil Rights movement accolades, and even beyond his consistently brilliant articulation and yearning for the church and society to realize what it means to truly be the “Beloved Community,” he helped us to understand more fully the essence of human dignity and worth, and the importance for these to be enacted among all of us if we will ever be all that God calls us to be.

The sacred interconnectedness of our diversely complicated existences cannot be ignored. Our nation and “world house” are in peril. The inescapable mutuality of our problems and robust solutions to resolve them for our destiny’s sake must be a priority. This holiday is not just to be a means for rest, but a day of remembrance and service towards that end. Moreover, we must not be so distracted and dismayed by the antics of this and previous years to forget the many accomplishments of yesteryear.

Some of the accomplishments towards building the “Beloved Community” include: 

Passage of the Inflation Reduction Act meant to curb inflation by reducing the deficit, lowering prescription drug prices, and investing into domestic energy production while promoting clean energy. Enactment of a  $1.2 trillion infrastructure package which drastically increased investment in the national network of bridges and roads, airports, public transport, national broadband internet, as well as waterways and energy systems. President Biden appointing the highest number of federal judges since Reagan. Re-joining the international Paris Climate Accord, which President Trump had parted ways with, allowing the U.S. to restart and improve its commitment to combatting climate change, working with global players to thwart the climate’s deterioration. We cannot forget that President Biden started his term signing into law the American Rescue Plan. The law kept millions of families housed while Covid-19 ravaged the country. The list of legislative accomplishments goes on, and none could have been possible without your commitment to the practice of caring for those people and families too often judged as “the least of these.” Reflecting on these achievements must refuel our fervor for faithful advocacy.

As we look forward to future acts of making Justice possible by the works of our hands, feet, and voices, we must recommit to repairing what has been broken through an unwavering recommitment to build anew. While NETWORK remains steadfast to the prevailing priorities of social justice and racial equity, our policy advocacy is rooted in repairing what has been broken since the Doctrine of Discovery was signed, for the benefit of future generations that will follow. We welcome your collaboration on ending poverty and a progressive pursuit of reparations, repairing and strengthening the Voting Rights Act, and advancing robust criminal legal system reforms. Your participation in working to eliminate hunger and houselessness, assuring that labor is not in vain and equitably compensated, guaranteeing the “more than haves” pay their fair share into our nation’s support systems to adequately care for those who have not, and more!

Rev. Dr. King’s legacy proclaims, “We are now making the choices which will determine whether we can achieve these goals in forthcoming decades. We cannot afford to make these choices poorly.” We are now making the choices which will determine whether we can achieve these goals in forthcoming decades. We cannot afford to make these choices poorly.

We can do better! Our existence demands we must do better! Will you journey with us until we realize what Brother Martin saw on the Mountain Top?

H.R.40 Re-Introduced in the 118th Congress

H.R.40 Re-Introduced in the 118th Congress


On January 24, 2023, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced S.40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, legislation that would establish a commission to consider proposals for reparations for African American descendants of slavery. The legislation is the Senate companion to H.R. 40, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18).

Jarrett Smith
January 11, 2023

On the first day of the 118th Congress, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) reintroduced H.R.40 with a speech on the House floor. In her speech, Rep. Lee noted, “H.R.40  is a crucial piece of legislation because it goes beyond exploring the economic implications of slavery and segregation. It is a holistic bill in the sense that it seeks to establish a commission to also examine the moral and social implications of slavery.

H.R.40 was first introduced in 1989 by former Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and has been introduced in every Congress since. In the last Congress, H.R.40 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee for the first time in its history, however, it failed to receive a vote on the House floor.

NETWORK, and our multi-faith coalition partners, strongly support the passage of H.R.40, however, given the reality of the divided Congress, we also call on President Biden to establish a commission on reparations via Executive Order.

A table in front of the White House holds a large letter with signatures at the bottom and candlesLast year, more than 2,000 Catholic Sisters and Associates sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to fulfil his campaign promise to support reparations. The letter followed a months-long campaign to build support for reparations with vigils organized by NETWORK advocates to pray and act for reparations. The vigils were held across the country in-person and online with local and national faith leaders.

Creating a commission to study and develop reparations proposals, as outlined in H.R.40, is the only policy that will lead to concrete proposals for repairing the damage that the United States government has inflicted on Black people. Its passage will allow us to move towards dismantling white supremacy and towards repair so that we can build anew together.

Catholic Social Teaching is clear: racism is a sin. Our faith teaches us to reject the immoral system of white supremacy and to work for truth-telling and repair. We can no longer deny the sins of the past and its ongoing implications Black people experience every day. NETWORK urges Congress to support and pass H.R.40 in the 118th Congress.