Migrant Tells of Desperate Attempt to Escape Gang Infested Neighborhood

What’s it like to be threatened by gang members high on drugs in your own neighborhood in San Salvador? What happens when you try to trek north to the U.S. and are kidnapped? Catholic Relief Services tells Pablo’s chilling story in a series of compelling video interviews. See CRS Migration Story for this story along with discussion of Pope Francis’ call for protection of the human rights of migrants.

First MCC Messenger of 2016

Missouri Catholic Conference’s quarterly publication, The Messenger, will appear in diocesan newspapers this weekend. This issue focuses on the Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS) department of Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNMO). Several former clients now work for RIS, and a few of their stories are shared in the first Messenger of 2016. 

Yusuf Mohammad is a Somali refugee who is now a caseworker for RIS. He fled Somalia after his father was killed. His story gave a chilling glimpse into the daily realities of many refugees. 

“Somalia is not a place to live,” he says. “It is a place to die.”

Along with these compelling stories, the publication includes an in-depth infographic that outlines the rigorous refugee screening process. We hope you find this issue of Messenger enjoyable and informing! You may read the full issue on our website. 

Bishops Call For Alternatives to Detention in Immigration Enforcement

The Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a report in cooperation with the Center for Migration Studies calling for the use of alternatives to detention when dealing with undocumented immigrants and refugees fleeing their countries because of terrorism or deep poverty. According to the report, detentions rose dramatically from 1994 to 2013. During these years the average daily detention rose from 6,785 to 34,260.

The report indicates that “[w]ell-managed programs have proven effective in ensuring high [court] appearance rates at far less cost…” The two common alternatives to detention are electronic monitoring or case management with community support. The report recommends greater use of alternatives, especially those involving local communities and case management.

The opening letter of the report from the Migration and Refugee Services recalls the migratory status of the Holy Family and calls for compassionate approaches to the problems related to immigration.

In preparing the report, visits were made to detention centers in Texas, California, Illinois, Arizona and New Jersey. Although some improvements in living conditions and processing of immigrants have occurred in recent years, the report calls for deeper and more comprehensive reforms. To read the full report, see Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the U.S. Immigrant Detention System.


Posted: May 29, 2015

Mass at the Border Highlights Plight of Immigrants

On Tuesday, April 1, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley joined a dozen other bishops in celebrating Mass along the U.S. – Mexico border. The congregation gathered on both sides of the border fence, with those on the Mexican side reaching through the slates to receive communion.  In his homily Cardinal O’Malley reflected on the Good Samaritan Gospel reading, urging recognition of who is our “neighbor” without so much concern with legal questions, as posed by the lawyer in the story.

Posted: April 4, 2014

Fact Versus Fiction on Immigration Reform

Many myths surround the current debate over immigration reform, such as immigrants are just here to get on welfare, or immigration hurts the U.S. economy. The issue is complicated enough without injecting false fears and myths into the mix. The challenge of creating an effective new immigration law must balance two basic principles recognized in Catholic teaching: the right of a nation to protect it borders and ensure an orderly process of immigration; and, the right of people faced with persecution or poverty to migrate for a better and safer life. The MCC has prepared a commentary that seeks to consider immigration reform in measured and balanced manner. Click commentary for more.


Posted: August 16, 2013.

More Legal – Less Illegal – Immigration

Friday, July 12, 2013

If Congress ends up enacting a version of immigration reform similar to what the U.S. Senate passed, then legal immigration will rise while illegal immigration falls. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office believes the enhanced border security measures could cut illegal immigration by one-third to one-half.

Meanwhile, more visas would be available to allow workers to legally enter the country. Under present law about 1 million people obtain green cards granting permanent residence each year. With changes made by the Senate bill that figure could rise to 1.7 million or more.

The MCC has taken a look at some of the research that merits consideration as Congress considers immigration reform. Click MCC Commentary to read this analysis.

Senate Passes Immigration Reform Legislation

On Thursday the U.S. Senate passed an immigration  reform bill (S. 744) by a vote of 68 to 32. Senator Claire McCaskill voted for the bill while Senator Roy Blunt opposed it. The legislation establishes a “military style” effort to close the U.S. Southern border and a 13-year path to citizenship for illegal aliens in the U.S.

The legislation requires the deployment of 20,000 new Border Patrol agents, 700 miles of new fencing and the use of high tech devices to keep close surveillance on the border. Once the border is determined to be secure, the legislation allows illegal aliens already in the country to begin a 13-year process to become citizens. In order to obtain citizenship, illegal aliens will have to pay back taxes, demonstrate English language skills and meet other requirements.

Senators voted from their desks, a practice reserved for the most solemn of occasions. Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake recalled as a youth working alongside family members and “undocumented migrant labor, largely from Mexico, who worked harder than we did under conditions much more difficult than we endured.”

South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham castigated critics who complained the legislation would allow citizenship for people with less than a 10th grade education. He said his deceased parents fit that description. Graham also said: “I see this as a significant step toward the U.S. Senate being able to work together in a bipartisan fashion to do something that matters. Is this bill perfect? No… It is a good solution to a hard problem that can always be made better.”

Most observers see a tough road ahead for the legislation as it move to the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Senate Begins Debate on Immigration Reform

The U.S. Senate this week voted by a lopsided majority (84-15) to take up and debate immigration reform legislation. Observers opined that the procedural vote showed a deep well of support for passing immigration legislation, at least in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner predicted a bill would be passed by year’s end.

Amendments in the U.S. Senate, however, could gut the bipartisan legislation that has been developed by the so-called “Gang of Eight.” One amendment, that was eventually put aside, would have required that the entire southern border be under surveillance and 90 percent of illegal border crossers be apprehended before a path to citizenship could be initiated for the 11 million illegal immigrants now residing in the country.

Urge Blunt and McCaskill to Support Immigration Reform

Both U.S. Senators Claire McCaskilll and Roy Blunt need to hear from you at this time regarding the need for immigration reform. For a quick and easy way to send an e-mail postcard to them that has been prepared by the U.S. Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants campaign click here.

Immigration Reform Moves Forward in Congress

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has approved (by a vote of 13 to 5) sweeping immigration reform legislation (S. 744). From the committee’s website, one can read the amended bill and other information. Click here.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, applauded the committee’s action. He urged the full Senate to adopt additional amendments to S. 744 to improve the process whereby people can become citizens or reunite with other family members.

“The path to citizenship should be widened, so that the maximum number of persons can access it and come out of the shadows,” Archbishop Gomez said. “To leave a large population behind would defeat the purpose of the bill, which is to bring persons into the light so they can become full members of our communities.”

The USCCB has been working to shorten the amount of time an individual must wait to apply for permanent residency, to move forward the cut-off date for eligibility, and to ease income and work requirements.

Archbishop Gomez also expressed concern over cuts to the family-based immigration system, a hallmark of the nation’s immigration laws for decades.

“We must not abandon our focus on families, which are the backbone of our society,” he said. “Family unity, based on the union of a husband and a wife and their children, must remain the cornerstone of our nation’s immigration system.”

The full Senate is expected to consider the bill in June.

Send Electronic Postcard on Immigration Reform

Through their Justice for Immigrants website the U.S. Catholic bishops offer a quick and easy way for Catholics to urge their U.S. Senators and their U.S. Representative to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Visit the Action Alert to send an electronic postcard. Messages to Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill are especially needed at this time as the U.S. Senate prepares to debate S. 744 in the coming weeks.