USCCB President and Migration Chairman Respond to Announcement of Lowest Refugee Designation in the History of U.S. Refugee Resettlement

WASHINGTON– Wednesday night, the State Department issued its report to Congress recommending 15,000 refugees be allowed to be admitted to the United States for 2021. This report is the first step towards issuance of the Presidential Determination on refugees, which by law mandates Congressional consultation and is required to be issued by September 30. The historical average of previous annual refugee admissions is 95,000. During the Trump Administration, there has been a stark decrease in refugee admissions including last year’s historical low of 18,000 refugees. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the United States 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 continue to be disappointed by the Trump Administration’s diminishment of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, as these decisions have a tangible impact on those fleeing religious persecution and other vulnerable families in need of refuge. While refugees will thankfully be allowed to seek refuge here in the United States in 2021, the low number of admissions, given the global need and the capacity and wealth of the United States, is heartbreaking. We exhort Congress to seriously examine the Administration’s proposal and strongly encourage the President to increase the eventual presidential determination significantly.

“Welcoming refugees is an act of love and hope. By helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus has challenged us to do.

“Five years ago, on his apostolic visit to the U.S., our Holy Father, Pope Francis addressed Congress noting:  ‘Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” … The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.’ In the same spirit, we urge the Administration to continue to offer welcome to refugees to our country. We can and must lead by example in the defense of all human life, including those fleeing persecution.”

To learn more about refugees and refugee resettlement, please visit Justice for Immigrants.


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 for more information about the USCCB’s Justice for Immigrants campaign.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman on the 20th Anniversary of World Refugee Day

June 19, 2020

WASHINGTON—World Refugee Day, first celebrated in 2000 is observed in the United States and around the world on June 20. The observance was created two decades ago to increase awareness about the situation of refugees around the world. Currently, the world faces the biggest forced migration crisis since World War II, with more than 70 million people forcibly displaced, which includes 25 million refugees around the world, including 13 million refugee children.

The Presidential Determination for determining the number of refugees resettled in the United States was set at an all-time low for the third consecutive year with a total of 18,000 refugees for 2020. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the related shutdown of the refugee program at this time, very few refugees will be able to access protection in the United States this year. On the 20th anniversary of World Refugee Day, in response to the growing number of refugees globally, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“Now, more than ever we need to protect and accompany our refugee brothers and sisters. There are too many vulnerable people currently unable to flee persecution who are living in dire circumstances, exacerbated no doubt by the COVID-19 pandemic. As Pope Francis reminds us, ‘we cannot remain insensitive, our hearts deadened, before the misery of so many innocent people. We must not fail to weep. We must not fail to respond.’

“Of particular concern are the most vulnerable of refugees: women, children, the elderly, the infirm, and individuals with special needs. Refugees fleeing religious persecution also continue to face violence, and in some cases, death for practicing their faith. We recognize refugees’ and our own human fragility, and as such, urge a more humane and compassionate embrace of those seeking refuge in our communities, in our country and in our world.”

More information on World Refugee Day, please visit Justice for Immigrants.