For Immediate Release: May 18, 2023
NETWORK Lobbyist Named Among ‘Washington’s Most Influential People’ for Second Year in a Row
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the second year in a row, NETWORK Government Relations Director Ronnate Asirwatham has been named one of “Washington DC’s 500 Most Influential People of 2023” by Washingtonian magazine. Ronnate is recognized for her work advocating a moral, just, and compassionate immigration system.
“Defending the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers is central to who we are at NETWORK. Ronnate shares that commitment and lives it out in her vital, community-oriented and faith-filled policy advocacy,” said Mary J. Novak, NETWORK’s Executive Director. “Ronnate strengthens NETWORK’s role as a convener of faith, secular, and grassroots partners, as she did when she brought together a coalition of 13 Catholic social justice organizations to oppose the cruel Secure the Border Act of 2023.”
“The depth of Ronnate’s policy expertise is surpassed only by the depth of her passion for and commitment to protecting refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, Dreamers, and all migrants. Their lived experiences are the foundation of Ronnate’s work, and this grounding is what makes her advocacy powerful,” said Joan F. Neal, NETWORK’s Deputy Executive Director and Chief Equity Officer.
With growing violence against immigrants and the recent policies attacking the rights of asylum seekers, Ronnate’s work is more important than ever. Earlier this month, the Biden administration replaced the Title 42 expulsion policy with a rule that places stringent restrictions on refugees seeking legal asylum protections. On the Congressional side, the proposed H.R. 2 Secure the Border Act of 2023 criminalizes immigrant children and their families and hinders the ability of faith-based organizations to serve them.
Ronnate has been instrumental in mobilizing opposition to these harmful, discriminatory, and dangerous immigration policies. She organized a joint letter from 16 Catholic organizations serving asylum seekers urging the administration to protect the rights of asylum seekers after the end of Title 42. And, with Ronnate’s leadership, more than 850 NETWORK members submitted public comments in March opposing the Biden administration’s new rule—the greatest number of comments NETWORK has ever gathered.
Throughout her time at NETWORK, Ronnate has also led efforts including a prayer vigil and protest against Title 42 outside the White House, coalescing the coalition Catholics Against Racism in Immigration (CARI), and educating Catholic Sisters about how they can engage their experiences at the border in federal policy advocacy.
NETWORK believes, as the Catholic Church teaches, that welcoming migrants is part of what it means to love our neighbors. As Ronnate has said, “Everyone has a right to migrate, to escape persecution, or to seek better opportunities for themselves and their families.” Ronnate consistently calls out the injustice of racist, exclusionary, and militaristic U.S. immigration policies, and calls us into a more welcoming society of solidarity, inclusion, and protection. We are grateful for her steadfast witness and moral leadership.
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice – advocates for justice inspired by Catholic Sisters – educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. With a 50-year record of accomplishment and more than 100,000 supporters across the country, NETWORK advocates for federal policies that support those at the margins and prioritize the common good. www.networklobby.org