Monthly Archives: April 2019

//April

USCCB Migration Chairman Endorses Proposed Senate Legislation That Gives Permanent Legal Protection to Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Holders

April 10, 2019

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration endorsed the “Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors” (DREAM) Act of 2019, S. 874 and the “Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression & Emergency” (SECURE) Act of 2019, S. 879. The DREAM Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers. The SECURE Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship to qualifying Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.

“We support legislative efforts to fully integrate hard-working Dreamers and TPS holders into the United States. We need a permanent legislative solution for those who have spent their lives contributing and living in the United States, the country they know as home,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “Dreamers and TPS holders are vital members of our community who are going to school, working to make our communities better and raising families.”

Please see the USCCB Committee on Migration letters of support for the DREAM Act and Secure Act.

More information about Dreamers and TPS can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

2019-04-10T16:46:07-04:00Statements|

USCCB Letter of Support for Secure Act

April 10, 2019

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), I write to urge you to support S. 879 the “Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and Emergency Act” (or the “SECURE Act”). This legislation, introduced on March 26, 2019 by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D- MD), will protect Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders and provide them with a pathway to lawful permanent resident status.

TPS is a renewable and statutorily-authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. DED is a discretionary and temporary stay of removal that is granted by the President to individuals from designated countries. There are approximately 320,000 TPS holders in the U.S. who have recently experienced cancellation of the TPS designation for their home country and are now reliant on ongoing litigation to allow them to remain legally in the United States. These TPS holders are parents to over 273,000 U.S. Citizen children living here in the United States. Similarly, up to 4,000 Liberians are facing termination of DED, effective on March 30, 2020, unless litigation challenging the decision prevails. Many of these TPS and DED holders have been here for years; they are business owners, professionals and community leaders. We know these individuals to be hardworking contributors to American communities, Catholic parishes, and our nation.

We believe the future of TPS and DED holders and their loved ones is a family unity and human dignity issue. We are also responding to the call of Pope Francis who exhorts Catholics to act in solidarity with refugees, migrants, and all those seeking safety from the ravages of violence, environmental disasters, and despair.

The SECURE Act will allow individuals who had or were eligible for TPS from any country that has had a TPS designation, or who was in the U.S. under a grant of DED extended beyond September 28, 2016, to move forward with lawful permanent resident status if they have been continuously present in the U.S. for at least three years and are present upon application; or, for those removed on or after September 28, 2016, was continuously present in the U.S. for at least three years prior to their removal or voluntary departure. Eligible individuals must also meet all current criminal and national security requirements for admissibility and pass a background check. The bill would allow them to work legally during the pendency of their applications.

Finding a legislative solution for TPS and DED holders and their families is critical for humanitarian and regional stability. The Catholic Church stands ready to work with Congress and will continue to welcome TPS and DED holders and their families into our parishes and communities.

Sincerely,

Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

2019-04-10T15:32:56-04:00Statements|

USCCB Letter of Support for the DREAM Act of 2019

Dear Senator:

I write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge you to support S. 874 the “Dream Act of 2019.” This bipartisan legislation, introduced on March 26, 2019 by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), would protect numerous immigrant youth from deportation, including the approximately 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The Dream Act is intended to protect immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The bill offers qualifying immigrant youth “conditional permanent resident status” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship. In order to receive the conditional status, the youth must, among other requirements, have entered the U.S. as a child, been continuously present in the United States for at least four years prior to enactment of the bill, meet certain admissibility and security requirements, and have obtained or be pursuing secondary education. Current DACA recipients are also deemed eligible for the conditional status. S.874 allows recipients of this conditional status to obtain non-conditional lawful permanent residency if they satisfy requirements that include: background checks; demonstrated English proficiency; and either education in a higher learning institution, honorable military service, three years of employment in the United States, or a hardship exception.

My brother bishops and I believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children. The Catholic Bishops have long supported these immigrant youth and their families who are contributors to our economy, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These youth have grown up in our country, some even choosing to put their lives on the line to serve in our armed forces. They truly exemplify the extraordinary contributions that immigrants can provide to our nation. It is both our moral duty and, in our nation’s best interest to protect these youth and allow them to reach their God-given potential.

For these reasons, we ask you to support and co-sponsor the Dream Act of 2019. We also urge you to continue to work towards the larger legislative reform of our immigration laws that our country so desperately needs. As always, USCCB/COM stands ready to work with Congress to reform our immigration system in a humane, just, and common-sense manner.

Sincerely,

Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

2019-04-10T15:30:19-04:00Statements|

Migration Chairman and CRS Urge US Government to Designate Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela

WASHINGTON—On April 4, 2019 Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, joined Sean Callahan, CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, urging an 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuela.

TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily-authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals to return to their home country.

There is no current TPS designation for Venezuela. However, conditions in the country and existing political instability have created a situation in which Venezuelan nationals cannot be safely returned home at this time. The Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference have recently noted the numerous violations of fundamental human rights inflicted by the country’s police and the violation of citizens’ access to health and medicine. Catholic partners have further reported on the acute food shortages and malnutrition facing the country.

“At this time, it is vital that Venezuelans in the United States have an opportunity to live with dignity, work lawfully, and provide for their families’ well-being until they can safely return home.” Bishop Vasquez noted. “We must provide humanitarian assistance to all our Venezuelan brothers and sisters in need, whether they live in the United States, in other South American countries, or in Venezuela itself,” Callahan said.

Read the full letter here.

2019-04-04T16:13:07-04:00Statements|

USCCB/CRS Letter Advocating for TPS Status for Venezuelans

The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen

Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20528

 

The Honorable Michael Pompeo

Secretary, Department of State

Washington, DC, 20520

 

VIA EMAIL

RE: TPS Designation for Venezuela

Dear Secretary Nielsen,

We write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to urge you to designate Venezuela for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), pursuant to Section 244(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.[1] Given the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, its nationals cannot safely be returned home at this time. Our nation has the legal ability, as well as the moral responsibility, to provide Venezuelans in the U.S. with temporary protection.

The ongoing political unrest, violence, and shortages in Venezuela have caused millions of citizens to flee the country. The Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference have recently noted the numerous violations of fundamental human rights inflicted by the police and threats to citizens’ access to health and medicine.[2] And, as you well know, while stability in Venezuela has been tenuous since 2015, it is continuing to deteriorate at an alarming rate, which is evidenced by the Department of State’s (DOS) issuance of a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for Venezuela on March 12, 2019. This advisory came just a day after DOS announced that it would be temporarily suspending operations at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas and withdrawing diplomatic personnel from the country. In issuing the subsequent travel advisory, DOS explained that in addition to violent political demonstrations and shortages in basic necessities (food, water,electricity, and medical care), the country suffers from high rates of violent crime, such as homicide, armed robbery, and kidnapping.[3]

These well-documented conditions have also been seen firsthand by our Catholic partners on the ground. Catholic Relief Services supports partners who report that of 15,000 children under age 5 being monitored, 76 percent show signs of nutritional deficit, and another 13 percent are living with acute malnutrition.[4]

For these reasons, we urge you to immediately designate Venezuela for TPS for a period of 18 months. The distressing conditions discussed above show that such a designation would be appropriate and could be made either on the grounds that: (1) Venezuela is suffering from “ongoing armed conflict within the state” and, consequently, return of nationals to the country would “pose a serious threat to their personal safety,”[5] or (2) that it is facing “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that prevent nationals “from returning to the state in safety.”[6]

We believe providing a TPS designation for Venezuela is also a moral, compassionate and needed response. TPS would ensure that an estimated 150,000 qualifying Venezuelans here in the U.S. are not returned to dangerous and life-threatening situations[7] and give them an opportunity to live with dignity, work lawfully, and provide for their families’ well-being until they can safely return home.

We appreciate your consideration of this request. We are praying for Venezuela’s swift recovery and for the day when those who have fled to the safety of other countries may return home.

Respectfully,

Most Rev. Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

Sean Callahan, President and CEO, Catholic Relief Services

 

For a PDF version of the letter, click here

 

[1] 8 U.S.C. § 1254(a).
[2] Linda Bordoni, Venezuelan Bishops Urge Prosecutors to Uphold Human Rights in the Face of Violations, Vatican News (Feb. 20, 2019), available at https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-02/venezuela-bishops-justice-human-rights-violations.html.
[3] Venezuela Travel Advisory, Department of State (March 12, 2019), https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/venezuela-travel-advisory.html.
[4] Catholic Relief Services, Venezuela Humanitarian Crisis 1 (Jan. 25, 2019), available at https://www.crs.org/resource-center/venezuela-humanitarian-crisis-emergency-fact-sheet.
[5] 8 U.S.C. § 1254a(b)(1)(A).
[6] Id. at § 1254a(b)(1)(C).
[7] US: Offer Venezuelans in US Temporary Protection, Human Rights Watch (March 8, 2019), https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/03/08/us-offer-venezuelans-us-temporary-protection (“The Venezuelan American National Bar Association estimates that there are about 150,000 Venezuelan nationals in the US who would qualify for Temporary Protected Status.”).

 

 

 

2019-04-04T16:03:55-04:00News|