Monthly Archives: July 2020


World Day Against Trafficking Webinar

On July 30th, we held a webinar on the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) led with some recorded remarks. Additionally, Jessica Hart from the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime joined as did Jennifer Reyes Lay (Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking) and Mary Anne Silvestri (ESTHER Ministy, Long Beach, CA).

Below are the slides and the presentation of the webinar:

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons Webinar Slides



U.S. Bishops’ President Joins Migration Chairman Urging Trump Administration to Reinstate Full DACA Program; Calls for Congressional Action

July 30, 2020

WASHINGTON – On July 28, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf issued a memorandum adding limitations to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The memorandum was issued in response to the recent 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States striking down the Trump Administration’s September 2017 attempt to end the DACA program. The new changes outlined in the memorandum would cut DACA’s youth work authorization from two years to one year and would not allow new DACA applicants.

Currently, there are approximately 670,000 DACA recipients working and studying legally in the United States, many of whom are performing essential services and are active leaders such as military veterans, academic standouts in universities, and leaders in local communities. DACA recipients are estimated to contribute $42 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disappointed that the Administration continues to push forward to end DACA. The Catholic Church in the United States has long advocated for the Dreamers and we will continue to stand with them. Many were brought to this country as infants and young children and they have grown up in our schools and parishes and now are making important contributions in the Church and in almost every area of American life.

“The new limits outlined in the Administration’s memorandum directly and negatively impact immigrant youth, their families, and the communities we serve. We urge the President to reinstate the original protections that DACA provides to young people currently enrolled in the program, as well as to begin accepting new prospective DACA applicants.

“Again, we turn to Congress, specifically the U.S. Senate, and exhort it to join the U.S. House of Representatives in passing legislation that provides both certainty and a path to citizenship for Dreamers.”

For more information please see the Dreamers and DACA page on the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants website.


Migration Chairman Calls for Prayers for Trafficking Survivors

July 29, 2020

WASHINGTON – The United Nations designated July 30 as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in 2013 to raise awareness of the devastating impact human trafficking has on women, men, and children and to promote survivors’ rights and human dignity. The international day is observed annually in the United States and throughout the world. There are nearly 25 million individuals trapped in modern-day slavery, according to the International Labor Organization. Human trafficking a “crime against humanity,” Pope Francis has said, because it is “an unjustifiable violation of the victims’ freedom and dignity, which are integral dimensions of the human person willed and created by God.”

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“Today we take a moment to pray for all victims and survivors of human trafficking and to reflect upon our responsibilities as individuals and as a Church to make their well-being and protection a priority. We are renewing our call to educating about human trafficking and proclaiming the value of all human life. Pope Francis reminds us that ‘it is the responsibility of all to denounce these injustices and to firmly oppose this shameful crime.’ We are called by our Holy Father to take a firm stance against this terrible violation of the dignity of the human person and to do everything in our power to eradicate it.”

To commemorate this day and highlight Catholic organizations working to prevent and eliminate all forms of human trafficking, the USCCB will host a webinar at 1pm Eastern on July 30. Registration for the webinar can be found here and resources on raising awareness and fighting trafficking may be found on the Justice for Immigrants website and


USCCB Letter to Senators Regarding COVID-19 Funding

Click Here for a PDF of this Letter

July 27, 2020

Dear Senators,

Over the past few months, you have heard from several U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) committees regarding the bishops’ priorities for the next phase of COVID-19 relief. I write you on behalf of the United States Conference of Bishops’ Committee on Migration concerning supplemental funding related to COVID-19 for refugee and immigrant families. Consistent with Catholic social teaching, we urge an inclusive approach to halting and mitigating the ongoing health and economic impacts of COVID-19. We believe that the pursuit of the common good must involve all people, including the most vulnerable populations on the margins, such as refugees and at-risk immigrant families. We are all in it together.

We urge you to include in the upcoming COVID-19 bill, S. 4071 the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act, sponsored by Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Tillis (R-NC). We believe this legislation is a step in the right direction to help ensure that certain immigrant families, specifically those which include a U.S. citizen parent, are eligible to receive the stimulus funding under the CARES Act and future COVID-19 relief. While the American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act does not protect all U.S. citizen children who are currently ineligible for stimulus funding under the CARES Act, this is an important effort to ensure that more mixed-status families are able to receive support they desperately need to ensure family stability and health during this uncertain time.

We also urge you to include in the upcoming COVID-19 relief bill, S. 4307, Protecting Benefits for Elderly Refugees and Refugees with Disabilities During COVID-19 Act, sponsored by Senator Murray (D-WA). This bill would extend the period of eligibility for Supplemental Security Income for elderly and disabled refugees who are in the U.S. after fleeing religious and other persecution. The extension is necessary because of the long delays of up to seven years, in the naturalization process.

In addition to these requests relating to inclusion of S. 4071 and S. 4307 into the next COVID-19 bill, we ask you to also include:

  • automatic extension of work authorization and visas for all Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, as well as all immigrants who have been characterized as “essential workers.” This enables immigrants and refugees to keep working and contributing to our economic rebound.
  • testing and treatment for COVID-19 must be available to all. It is vital that all individuals are able to access care for their well-being as well as for community health.

Coronavirus Relief Act, sponsored by Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Tillis (R-NC). We believe this

American Citizen

legislation is a

• $642 million to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to respond to urgent needs of refugees and others under their care. As recent research shows, refugees have contributed greatly to the United States during this time.

The Catholic Church’s commitment to assisting immigrants is rooted in our teaching on the sacredness and dignity of all human life, and all God’s children were created in His image. Our work on behalf of immigrant and refugee families, in particular, is centered around the importance of the family unit to society. As Pope Francis has stated, the family “is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.” Families are an essential element of our communities, parishes, and nation; they are what holds America together. Upholding and protecting the family unit, regardless of its national origins and its immigration status, is vital to our faith and to our country.

Thank you for considering these requests.
Yours truly,

Most Rev. Mario E. Dorsonville
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

U.S. Bishops Urge President to Rescind Divisive Memorandum Excluding Undocumented from Inclusion in Apportionment of U.S. House of Representative Seats

July 22, 2020

WASHINGTON –On July 21, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce ordering that undocumented people counted in the 2020 Census be excluded from consideration when determining the number of U.S. Representatives each state is allotted in the U.S. House of Representatives. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“As we have stated before, we urge all people to be counted and fully included in the Census.   Counting the undocumented in the Census and then denying them and the states in which they reside their rightful representation in Congress is counter to the Constitution and a grave injustice. Furthermore, such a policy makes people feel invisible and not valued as human beings.”

“This action is simply wrong and divisive. We follow the lead of Pope Francis, who has noted that in the face of ‘profound and epochal changes’ that the present moment offers ‘a precious opportunity to guide and govern the processes now under way, and to build inclusive societies based on respect for human dignity, tolerance, compassion and mercy.’ We urge the President to rescind this Memorandum and instead, to undertake efforts to protect and heal our nation and all who are living in our country.”

To learn more about participation in the U.S. Census and information-sharing visit the Justice for Immigrants website.


USCCB Letter to House in Support of H.R. 2214 and H.R. 5581

Click Here for a PDF of this Letter

July 21, 2020

Dear Representative:

I write on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge your support for H.R. 2214, the National Origin Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act (NO BAN Act), and H.R. 5581, the Access to Counsel Act. The full House is scheduled to take up these bills on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, as House Amendments to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2486.

The NO BAN Act would end the ongoing harms caused by a series of executive actions negatively impacting refugees and immigrants and their families and would put into place vital protections to prevent future discriminatory bans. On January 27, 2017, the President signed Executive Order (EO) 13769, which temporarily banned the entry of all refugees and the entry of foreign nationals from several Muslim-majority countries. He subsequently implemented related EO 13780, EO 13815, and Presidential Proclamation (PP) 9645. He also later signed PP 9822 that limited access to asylum protection in a manner contrary to the Refugee Act of 1980. Most recently, on January 31, 2020, he issued Presidential Proclamation 9983 that restricts access to U.S. immigrant visas for citizens of six more countries. For individuals being considered for admission to the United States and are in secondary or deferred inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Access to Counsel Act would provide them with crucial access to legal counsel, as well as access to family and close associates. This strengthens due process for these individuals, many of whom are asylum seekers.

While Catholic social teaching recognizes the duty and responsibility of governments to protect their citizens by properly controlling borders, it also recognizes the government’s obligation to protect and provide strong due process for vulnerable groups and individuals, particularly refugees, asylum seekers, and vulnerable children and families. The NO BAN Act would vacate 6 past executive actions that restricted access to lawful migration while not strengthening protection for U.S. citizens, and the Access to Counsel Act would strengthen at risk migrants’ access to due process while not undermining U.S. security or public safety.

USCCB/COM has opposed all six of the executive actions that will be vacated by the NO BAN Act. These actions undermine our longstanding commitment to and implementation of refugee and asylum protection. Moreover, we are deeply troubled over the Administration implementing immigration and refugee policies that are based on religious discrimination. We filed two amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court during the last two years raising concerns about how the Administration’s policies threaten religious liberty. With support of the Access to Counsel Act, USCCB/COM continues its long-time support of access to counsel for asylum seekers and immigrants.

Thank you for your attention to these urgent issues, and we ask that you support the two measures when they are brought before the full House of Representatives.


Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

Migration Committee Chairman Opposes Proposed New Rule Seeking to Eliminate Protection for Asylum Seekers Fleeing Violence

July 14, 2020

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issued new proposed rules on asylum on June 15 with comments due on July 15. The new proposed rules would, among other changes: allow immigration judges to summarily deny applications before the asylum-seeker can see a judge; redefine the term “particular social group” in asylum law to effectively eliminate asylum for those fleeing domestic violence or gangs; and raise standards for initial asylum interviews. The following statement was made by Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration:

“These proposed asylum regulations will have devastating consequences for those seeking protection in the United States who are fleeing domestic violence or persecution from gangs in their home countries. The Catholic Church teaches us to look at the root causes of migration, poverty, violence, and corruption. Pope Francis reminds us that ‘we must keep our eyes open …, keep our hearts open …, to remind everyone of the indispensable commitment to save every human life, a moral duty that unites believers and non-believers.’ We cannot turn our backs on the vulnerable.”

Read the USCCB’s comment on the proposed asylum rule on the Conference’s website.

To learn more about asylum and root causes of migration, visit the Justice for Immigrants website.