Monthly Archives: May 2019

USCCB letter in support of the Dream Act of 2019, the American Promise Act of 2019, and the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019

May 21, 2019

 

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee on the Judiciary

2138 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

VIA EMAIL

 

Dear Representative,

I write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge you to support the ‘‘Dream Act of 2019,’’ the “American Promise Act of 2019,” and the “Venezuela TPS Act of 2019,” which are all scheduled to be marked up by the House Judiciary Committee this Wednesday, May 22. These important bills, as written, would provide lawful permanent residency and a path to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders, as well as TPS for qualifying Venezuelans in the U.S.

The Dream Act of 2019 provides critical protection to Dreamers, immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The bill offers young people who qualify “permanent resident status on a conditional basis” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship. 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.

The American Promise Act of 2019 similarly offers essential protections to TPS and DED holders. The bill provides lawful permanent resident status for eligible individuals from countries designated for TPS or DED as of January 1, 2017, and who have been living in the U.S. for at least three years. Eligible individuals must also meet criminal and national security requirements for admissibility, including passing a background check.

My brother bishops and I support these two bills, as written, and the populations they seek to protect. We believe in defending the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and families, and have long stood in solidarity with Dreamers, TPS holders, and their families. These young people contribute to our economy, defend our country through military service, excel academically in our universities, and are leaders in our parishes and communities. It is both our moral duty and in our nation’s best interest to protect them and allow them to reach their God-given potential.

Because of the ongoing political unrest, violence, and shortages of food and resources in Venezuela, we believe providing a TPS designation for Venezuela is a moral and compassionate response.  Further, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference has recently noted the numerous violations of fundamental human rights inflicted by the police and threats to citizens’ access to health and medicine.[1] These alarming conditions have been well-documented and seen firsthand by our Catholic partners on the ground and are reflected in the Department of State’s recent travel advisory.[2]

Consequently, we urge you to support the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019, which would designate Venezuela for TPS for an initial period of 18 months. This bill would give Venezuelans here in the United States an opportunity to live with dignity, work lawfully, and provide for their families’ well-being until they can safely return home. Also, this would ensure that Venezuelans who qualify here in the U.S. are not returned to dangerous and life-threatening situations.

Thank you for your consideration of our recommendation to support the Dream Act of 2019, the American Promise Act of 2019, and the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019. We urge you to oppose any amendments to these bills that seek to undermine the critical protections for these valuable members of our communities.

Sincerely,

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

Click here for a PDF Version of the Letter

[1] 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.
[2] Venezuela Travel Advisory, Department of State (March 12, 2019), https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/venezuela-travel-advisory.html.
2019-05-21T16:30:28-05:00News|

USCCB/CRS Letter to Secretary Pompeo Objecting to Funding Cuts in Northern Triangle

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We, the undersigned, write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committees on International Justice and Peace and Migration, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to urge you to continue funding poverty-reducing development and humanitarian assistance at Congressionally appropriated levels to the people of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador from Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018. Poverty-reducing programs, like the ones implemented by CRS in partnership with local faith-based agencies in the region, help meet the basic needs of families, offer hope to youth impacted by violence, and provide economic opportunities so that families can thrive on their land and resist the push factors of migration. Furthermore, poverty-reducing and civil-society-building programs directly affect regional security and stability, providing local populations with self-determination and hope in their struggle against corruption and transnational criminal organizations operating in the area. We
urge the Administration and Congress to strengthen the U.S. commitment to the Northern Triangle and uphold our country’s values as a generous nation that alleviates suffering and cultivates just and peaceful societies.

CRS partners with the U.S. government in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to help address the root causes of migration – violence and lack of protection, food insecurity, and lack of economic opportunity. Across the region, CRS has partnered with more than 400 businesses and worked with over 9,000 youth, helping roughly 70% of program participants return to school, find a job, or start an entrepreneurial venture. In a recently completed Food for Peace program, the number of people living on less than $1.25 per day was reduced by more than half and chronic malnutrition in children under five went down more than five times the national average. CRS also works to improve the quality of life for 200 communities in 30 municipalities in rural Guatemala, supporting more than 23,500 community members to design 156 community development plans. Furthermore, with U.S. government support, CRS has served millions of school meals, trained thousands of teachers, and supported hundreds of school infrastructure projects to improve school attendance and literacy among school-aged children and create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities.

In our hemisphere, the United States has consistently provided crucial leadership in the areas of international humanitarian and development assistance, helping the countries of the Northern Triangle lay the foundation for civil societies to respond effectively to poverty, corruption, and violence. No other country but our own can provide this leadership. If we revoke funding now, we run the risk of impeding developmental successes and creating a vacuum for increased poverty, instability, and migration. We must continue to collaborate with local civil societies to improve the conditions in the Northern Triangle. Governments in the region must be held accountable, but civil society and poor and vulnerable communities, dependent as they are on U.S. development leadership, should not suffer more because of these countries’ governments. We urge the Administration to reconsider redirecting poverty-reducing foreign assistance funds  from Central America from Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018; and, instead, target funds toward effective programming that promotes human security, good governance, and communal
prosperity in the region. Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Justice

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

Mr. Sean Callahan, President/CEO, Catholic Relief Services

2019-05-17T10:56:57-05:00News|

President of U.S. Bishops and Chairman of Migration Issue Statement on President’s Proposed Immigration Reform Plan

May 17, 2019

 

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston, Texas, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in response to the President’s remarks today on his proposed immigration reform plan.  Full statement follows:

 

“While we appreciate that the President is looking to address problems in our immigration system, we oppose proposals that seek to curtail family-based immigration and create a largely “merit-based” immigration system. Families are the foundation of our faith, our society, our history, and our immigration system. As Pope Francis notes: “Family is the place in which we are formed as persons. Each family is a brick that builds society.

 

“We also are deeply troubled that this proposal does not seem to address Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders, nor provide them a path to citizenship to ensure their full integration into American life. Lastly, securing our borders and ensuring our safety is of the utmost importance, but this will not be achieved by heightening human misery and restricting access to lawful protection in an attempt to deter vulnerable asylum-seeking families and children. Instead, we must confront the root causes of migration and look to humane and pragmatic solutions, such as improving our immigration courts, expanding alternatives to detention, and eradicating criminal networks. We urge lawmakers to put aside differences and engage in meaningful action on humane and just comprehensive immigration reform.”

2019-05-17T09:48:17-05:00Statements|