ISSUE AREA: IMMIGRATION

NETWORK believes that as people of faith and a nation of immigrants we are called to welcome the stranger. Immigrants should be welcomed into this country.

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Our Position

Catholic Social Justice calls us to “welcome the stranger,” recognizing that we were all once immigrants looking for a better life. Pope Francis has been a vocal supporter of welcoming immigrants, reminding Congress in September 2015 that “We the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”

Our current immigration system is outdated, backlogged, and broken. Because of this, millions of families are hanging in the balance until it is fully repaired. We must also treat migrants in a way that is “humane, just, and fraternal” by improving our detention and deportation practices and addressing the U.S. foreign policy causes of forced migration which lead immigrants to leave their homes in search of a better life for themselves and their families. We can do our part to welcome the immigrant who resides among us, but we must also ensure that U.S. policy is not forcing migrants to leave their homes.

NETWORK Advocates for Federal Policies That:

Repair our broken immigration system that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and protects family unity

Despite many attempted proposals, bills, and votes for comprehensive immigration reform, none have yet become law. Our outdated and dysfunctional immigration system does not reflect America’s current economic and labor-market needs. Because of this, opportunities for legal citizenship into the United States are overburdened and backlogged, if they exist at all. This results in ever-increasing numbers of people attempting to enter the U.S. through dangerous unofficial channels, oftentimes in attempts to reunite with family members already in this country. Elected officials act as if increasing the amount of money spent on militarizing the southern U.S. border will resolve our immigration crisis, when in reality such politics divert attention from the real solutions.

Repairing our broken immigration system requires that we acknowledge the positive contributions of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S. by providing a pathway to apply for citizenship. The United States must also provide reasonable opportunities for new immigrants to enter our country through family-based visas, humane and protected guestworker programs, and other visa-based systems based on data-driven need rather than arbitrary allotments and allocations.

Utilize alternatives to detention, increases safety measures for migrants at the borders, and promotes safer and more humane deportation practices

U.S. detention policy is rife with unjust treatment of immigrants, including violations of due process; verbal, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; and inhumane living conditions. Additionally, U.S. detention centers are largely run by private prisons, and result in detention bed quotas based on contracts with the U.S. government.

Alternatives to detention are more humane and restore dignity and humanity to immigrants rather than stripping them of basic human rights. These alternatives are also more economically viable, as they do not involve for-profit private prison contracts. Steps should be taken to strengthen oversight of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to increase accountability and reduce excessive use of force by agents. This includes the use of body-worn cameras to document officer activity.  In the few instances when it is legally determined in a fair and just process that an immigrant must be repatriated to his or her country of origin, we must do our due diligence as global peacekeepers to practice safer deportation practices. Deportation policies should work to reflect our nation’s values of keeping communities safe and keeping families together.

Uphold the national and international legal rights of refugees and asylum seekers at all levels of government

Human rights crises throughout the world have caused people to leave their homes in mass in search of respite from violence and oppression. As a global leader, the United States is calling on other countries to do their part in welcoming these refugees and asylum seekers. However, political leaders in the U.S. are instilling a politics of fear in our country, attempting to prioritize refugees of Christian backgrounds or a particular country of origin and bar others.

NETWORK strongly believes in the importance of protecting the rights of international refugees and asylum seekers regardless of their religion or country of origin.  U.S. policy must not create barriers to prevent people from seeking safety. This requires improving legal representation for asylum seekers, particularly the unaccompanied minors migrating north from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Identify and address the root causes of migration throughout the world

Myriad factors lead migrants to flee their homes in search of a better life for themselves or their families. These root causes range from gang- and organized crime-related violence, corrupt and abusive police forces, and a lack of educational or economic opportunity. Many of these push factors are direct results of U.S. foreign policy. Free trade agreements have diminished economic opportunity and weakened labor and environmental protections in developing nations. U.S. military policy has equipped foreign dictators, militaries, and militias with the tools and training to commit widespread human rights violations against their own citizens. These factors cause people to leave their homes, but also cause death and disruption to immigrants if they are deported after seeking peace in the United States.

A deliberate effort must be made by the United States to evaluate the factors that lead to migration and to lessen them so that migrants are not forced to leave their homes. The United States should use its influence as a global leader to promote better military, business, and environmental practices in the countries that are suffering.

From the Advocacy Toolbox:

Policy Solutions
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)
  • Fair Representation for Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • End Family Detention
  • Border Reform
  • Prosecutorial Discretion