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USCCB President and Migration Chair Celebrate 15 Years of Justice for Immigrants Initiative

September 29, 2020

WASHINGTON In 2004, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) made immigration reform a major public policy priority of the Catholic Church in the United States. In 2005, after engaging broad stakeholders, the USCCB created the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) campaign in an effort to unite and mobilize a growing network of Catholic institutions and individuals in support of humane treatment of immigrants and refugees and immigration reform. On the occasion of the 15 year anniversary of the establishment of the JFI campaign, USCCB President Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, and USCCB Chairman on Committee on Migration, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington issued the following statement:

“We celebrate 15 years of the Justice for Immigrants initiative and the amazing accomplishments of Catholic organizations to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate immigrants and refugees coming to and living in the United States. While we are pleased to highlight the work that has been done by the Church and Justice for Immigrants to advance the humane treatment and legalization for immigrants, we note that the work is far from done. The Church redoubles its commitment to the Justice for Immigrants initiative and to recognizing the human dignity and rights of immigrants and refugees and the promotion of legalization and legislative reform. Our efforts are rooted in the Gospel and the need to recognize the face of Jesus in every person. Because of this, we will continue our work to educate Catholics about the Church’s teaching on promoting the human dignity of every person, including the immigrant and the refugee. We will also continue to encourage lawmakers and community leaders to prioritize reform of our broken system and to avoid politicization of our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters.”

To commemorate the 15 year anniversary, Justice for Immigrants will be conducting a webinar series and has also issued a new policy priorities document (available in English and Spanish) which is organized around what Pope Francis referred to as our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration: Welcome, Protect, Promote, and Integrate. Visit www.justiceforimmigrants.org for more information about the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign.

2020-09-29T11:58:11-04:00Statements|

Urge President Trump to Allow Refugees, Including Religious Minorities, Come to the United States

By the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30th), the Administration was required to consult with Congress and determine the number of refugees allowed to be admitted to the U.S., a process known as the”Presidential Determination” (PD). So far, the Administration has only sent recommendations to Congress for a PD of 15,000. They must still consult with Congress about the recommendation and set the final number.

If the Presidential Determination for FY2021 is finalized at 15,000 refugees, it will be the fourth consecutive year that our country will have the lowest refugee admissions goal in the program’s history. Meanwhile, there are over 26 million refugees worldwide with over 1.44 million in need of resettlement. Also, these decreases have already meant lost protection for religious minorities, for example in 2016, 1524 Iraqi Christians received refuge in the United States, in 2019, only 86 did- a 94% decrease (see below).

As Catholics, we affirm the inherent dignity of every person and the ability of refugees to seek security and safety for themselves and family members. We continue to be deeply concerned that further reducing refugee resettlement numbers mean that refugees fleeing persecution are left in harm’s way, that refugee families are left separated across the continents and that the U.S. retreats in its global leadership position.

Learn more about refugees and refugee resettlement on the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants resource page.

2020-10-02T13:31:26-04:00Action Alerts|

U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Urges Lawmakers to Recognize Contributions of Immigrant and Refugee Essential Workers and Support Workers and Their Families

September 23, 2020

 

WASHINGTON– Today, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, submitted testimony to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship during a hearing titled “Immigrants as Essential Workers During COVID-19.” From the written testimony, Bishop Dorsonville states:

“Immigrants and refugees are a blessing to our country. The Church teaches that every human being is created in God’s image and deserves dignity and respect and that human labor has an inherent dignity, allowing all to share in the ongoing work of creation, while providing the resources to build and sustain families.

“The contributions of essential workers have become undoubtedly more important during COVID-19. While many essential workers are U.S. citizens, many are also immigrants and refugees. Immigrants comprise 31% of U.S. agricultural employees… [and] they risk their own safety to support their families and to ensure continuity in the nation’s food supply chains.

“In addition to being highly vulnerable to COVID-19, immigrant and refugee essential workers are less likely to have access to medical care and thus far have been completely left out of any federal COVID-19 relief or assistance. We urge Congress to include immigrant and refugee families in any future COVID-19 relief as well as be made eligible for past relief efforts. Additionally, we continue to advocate Congress for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who have been living, working, and contributing to our country. As Pope Francis states: No one must be left behind.”

To read Bishop Dorsonville’s written testimony, visit Justice for Immigrants.

To watch the hearing, please visit the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship’s website.

2020-09-23T15:31:03-04:00Statements|

World Day for Migrants and Refugees to be Celebrated on September 27

September 21, 2020

WASHINGTON – The Vatican has designated Sunday, September 27 as the World Day for Migrants and Refugees. The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 106th observance of this day is “Forced like Jesus Christ to Flee” a focus on the plight of internally displaced persons. 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 comment:

“The World Day for Migrants and Refugees is an opportunity to reflect on the global contributions of immigrants and refugees, and highlight the work of the Church to welcome, protect and integrate them. We are reminded that regardless of our background, we are all built in the image of God and should be treated as such. In his message on the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis has highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the forced displacement of people and the difficulties they encounter when seeking protection. This day is an opportunity to unite the world in addressing forced displacement and pray for the well-being of our immigrant and refugee brothers and sisters as we continue to work to bring solidarity, compassion and love throughout our human encounters.

“It is of vital importance for us to embrace love for our neighbor as we love ourselves and live out this commitment daily. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, also noted in his annual message, ‘To preserve our common home and make it conform more and more to God’s original plan, we must commit ourselves to ensuring international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded.’”

Bishop Dorsonville will be celebrating a Mass to commemorate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees at St. John Neumann’s Parish on September 27, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.  The mass will be live-streamed via St. John Neumanns’ YouTube channel.

For more information on internal displacement as well as educational resources related to the upcoming World Day for Migrants and Refugees, visit USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants website.

2020-09-21T11:42:47-04:00Statements|

Lives Will Be Upended: Bishops Respond to Court Decision Allowing An End to Temporary Protected Status for Over 200,000 People

September 15, 2020

Washington, DC – Yesterday, in Ramos v. Wolf, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated an existing preliminary injunction or pause of the Trump Administration’s attempt to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 200,000 individuals living legally in the United States. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, and Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, issued the following statement:

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision continues a heartbreaking path of uncertainty and fear for hundreds of thousands of TPS recipients needlessly put into motion by the Trump Administration. As detailed in our extensive work in Central America and the Caribbean, TPS countries such as El Salvador and Haiti cannot adequately handle the return of TPS recipients and their families. The spread of COVID-19 has only made conditions worse. Today’s decision will fragment American families, leaving, for example, over 192,000 U.S. citizen children of Salvadoran TPS recipients without their parents and with uncertain futures.

“Our nation must not turn its back on TPS recipients and their families; they too are children of God. We stand in solidarity with TPS recipients, who are here and have been living and working in the United States legally, and we will continue to do so with them in their countries of origin.

“We renew our call for the U.S. Senate to take up the American Dream and Promise Act, which the House passed last year. We stand ready to support such efforts. Without action by Congress, however, recipients’ lives will be upended. Congress must act to ensure that such catastrophic human consequences do not occur.”

To learn more about Temporary Protected Status, please see the Justice for Immigrants website.

2020-09-15T12:24:27-04:00Statements|

Letter of Support for H.R. 8046 Improving Opportunities for New Americans Act

Click here to View the Letter

September 14, 2020

Dear Representative,

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), I urge you to cosponsor HR 8046, the Improving Opportunities for New Americans Act, introduced by Representative John Katko (NY) and sponsored by Representative Ben McAdam (UT). This bipartisan measure would direct the U.S. Secretary of Labor, in collaboration with other federal and nongovernmental agencies, to conduct a study of the factors that affect the ability of immigrants and refugees who have professional credentials that were obtained outside the United States to work in those professions while living in the United States.

For Catholics, work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continued participation in God’s Creation. “The Lord blesses our work so that we may share its fruits with others” (Deuteronomy 14: 28-29). We are supportive of this bill that would help us to explore how immigrants and refugees in our midst might better use the gifts of their professional expertise, higher education, and skills for themselves, their families, and communities throughout the United States.

HR 8046 would direct the U.S. Department of Labor to review the U.S. employment of applicable immigrants and refugees. It would concentrate on persons who have been lawfully present residents or naturalized U.S. citizens during the last five years. The study would compare the work these professionals performed before they emigrated to the United States with the work that they have performed since migrating to United States. In addition to would identify any professional credentials they possessed before emigrating and assessing barriers that keep them from pursuing comparable professional level employment in the United States. It also would identify current governmental and nongovernmental resources that help these newcomers overcome such barriers. Finally, the study would contain policy recommendations to address such barriers.

Nearly 2 million immigrants and refugees with college degrees are reportedly either employed in low-skilled jobs or unemployed. This means that many individuals are not being able to use all their education and God-given abilities. Under-employment of this kind leads to $10 billion in lost taxes at the federal, state, and local levels and over $39 billion in lost revenue for immigrant and refugee communities. Also of great concern, particularly during the COVID- 19 pandemic, is that over 263,000 immigrants and refugees with undergraduate degrees in healthcare, over half of which are in nursing, have been either under-utilized or unemployed. A recent study found that there is a severe shortfall in 15 health care occupations in the United States, including 14 frontline health care professions. We need to utilize all available essential workers to help ensure a robust response to COVID-19.

In our work with immigrants and refugees and their families, we note the great economic, cultural, civic, and religious contributions they bring to our communities and our country. As a faith that values the dignity of work and the ability to provide for one’s family, we welcome efforts that help further that endeavor. We respectfully urge you to join us in supporting this bill.

Sincerely,

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