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.



USCCB President and Migration Committee Welcome Supreme Court Decision on DACA and Urge President to Uphold the Program

June 18, 2020

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion preventing the Trump Administration from terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On November 12, 2019, the Court heard the challenge to the Trump Administration’s DACA repeal efforts, in which U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) submitted an amicus curiae brief in support of maintaining the program. The DACA program was implemented in 2012 and has enabled approximately 800,000 young people, who paid a fee and submitted to a background check, the opportunity to work legally, access educational opportunities and not fear deportation. DACA recipients on average contribute over $42 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the USCCB and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’ Committee on Migration issued the following statement:

“We welcome the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision noting that the Trump Administration did not follow proper administrative procedures required to repeal the DACA program.

“First, to DACA youth, through today’s decision and beyond, we will continue to accompany you and your families. You are a vital part of our Church and our community of faith. We are with you.

“Next, we urge the President to strongly reconsider terminating DACA. Immigrant communities are really hurting now amidst COVID-19 and moving forward with this action needlessly places many families into further anxiety and chaos. In times of uncertainty, let us remember the teachings of the Gospel which encourage us to be open and receptive to those in need: ‘If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?’ (1 John 3:17). In this moment, we must show compassion and mercy for the vulnerable.”

“Lastly, we strongly encourage our U.S. Senators to immediately pass legislation that provides a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Permanent legislative protection that overcomes partisanship and puts the human dignity and future of Dreamers first is long overdue.”

For more information and resources on DACA see


U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Urges Passage of Legislation to Protect Dreamers and TPS Holders on One Year Anniversary of House Passage of H.R.6

June 4, 2020

WASHINGTON— One year ago today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R.6), which provides a pathway to citizenship for those who were brought to the United States as children by their parents (“Dreamers”), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders. In the year since the passage of H.R.6, there has been no action in the U.S. Senate to advance permanent legislative protection for Dreamers and TPS holders. Today, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration released the following statement:

“One year ago, today the House of Representatives passed H.R.6, a bill offering a pathway to citizenship to Dreamers, TPS and DED holders. Today, sadly, Dreamers and TPS holders remain vulnerable and without permanent legal status. This continued uncertainty for Dreamers and TPS holders comes at a time during the COVID-19 pandemic when many Dreamers and TPS holders are, alongside U.S. citizens, on the frontlines providing essential work for our country in health care, food supply, and transportation. For example, currently, more than 62,000 workers who are DACA-eligible are working in healthcare.

“As we await a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the legality of ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, we again call on the Senate to push forward with legislation that provides a path to citizenship for these individuals, who are essential to our communities, our Church and our country.”


Catholic Leaders Respond to Administration’s Halt to Immigration with a Call for Unity in the Effort to Overcome COVID-19

WASHINGTON – Responding to the proclamation signed by President Trump announcing a temporary reviewable immigration halt, 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 and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and chair of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), issued the following response:

“In this moment, our common humanity is apparent more now than ever. The virus is merciless in its preying upon human life; it knows no borders or nationality. Pope Francis teaches us that to live through these times we need to employ and embody the ‘creativity of love.’  The President’s action threatens instead to fuel polarization and animosity. While we welcome efforts to ensure that all Americans are recognized for the dignity of their work, the global crisis caused by COVID-19 demands unity and the creativity of love, not more division and the indifference of a throw-away mentality. There is little evidence that immigrants take away jobs from citizens.  Immigrants and citizens together are partners in reviving the nation’s economy. We must always remember that we are all sons and daughters of God joined together as one human family.

“We are extremely concerned about how the proclamation will impact immigrant families looking to reunify, as well as religious workers. The proclamation prevents certain immigrant family members from reuniting with their loved ones living in the United States. Additionally, it bars religious workers seeking to come to the United States as lawful permanent residents from supporting the work of our Church, as well as many other religions, at this time. This will undoubtedly hurt the Catholic Church and other denominations in the United States, diminishing their overall ability to minister to those in need.”


U.S. Bishop Chairmen Voice Opposition to Proclamation That Further Restricts Immigration and Family Reunification

February 2, 2020

WASHINGTON — The President issued a proclamation Friday restricting the issuance of immigrant visas to people from Burma (Myanmar), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria. People from Sudan and Tanzania will no longer be eligible for certain visas to come to the United States, commonly called “Diversity Visas.”

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento and chairman of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., along with Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA issued the following statement strongly disagreeing with the administration’s latest action:

“The proclamation restricting immigration further undermines family reunification efforts and will make ensuring support for forced migrants in the designated countries more difficult. This proclamation also serves as a painful reminder of the 2017 ban which threatened our country’s founding principle of religious freedom. Over the last three years, waivers to allow visas from current travel ban nations based on undue hardship (such as family illness) were supposed to be available but were almost never authorized. We note with particular sadness and have witnessed firsthand the trauma of family separation that occurs with travel bans, which will only increase with this new proclamation.

“We respect that there are challenges in assuring traveler documentation and information exchange between countries as a means to ensure the safety of citizens. However, we also believe that ill-conceived nation-based bans such as this injure innocent families. As the bishops’ conference president Archbishop José Gomez has stated. . . , ‘Welcoming families has allowed our country to integrate successive immigrant generations into the fabric of American life, allowing them to contribute their faith, values and talents to make this country great.’

“We urge the administration to reverse this action and consider the human and strategic costs of these harmful bans.”


U.S. Bishops’ Chairmen Very Concerned About Impact of Recent Supreme Court Decision on Public Charge

January 29, 2020

WASHINGTON—On January 27, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision allowing the Trump Administration to implement its “public charge” rule everywhere in the United States (except Illinois) while litigation challenging the legality of the rule proceeds through the federal courts. 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:

“Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision allowing the Administration to move forward with implementing its new changes to the ‘public charge’ while lawsuits are still pending is very concerning, as it will have an immediate and negative impact upon immigrant and newcomer families. In our experience serving the poor and vulnerable, we know that many immigrant families lawfully access important medical and social services that are vital to public health and welfare. There is already misinformation about the ‘public charge’ rule circulating in immigrant communities, and this decision will further deter families eligible for assistance from coming forward to access the services they need, such as nutrition assistance and housing. The Supreme Court’s decision will have devastating consequences for immigrant communities, as those impacted are cast into the shadows because they fear deportation and family separation for seeking critical support. . . The Church upholds the dignity of all human life, and the Gospel compels us to serve those who are in need, regardless of their circumstances. Preventing anyone from having access to life-saving services is contrary to our belief that all life is sacred from its beginning to its end.

“We note yesterday’s Supreme Court decision focuses solely on the preliminary injunction and, as such, we remain hopeful that the courts will declare the ‘public charge’ rule illegal. The Church will redouble public education efforts to ensure that immigrant families, and our direct services networks which assist them, are educated about this rule and its impacts. We remain steadfast in Pope Francis’s call to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters.”


U.S. Bishops’ Migration Committee Chair Welcomes Court Injunction that Halts Implementation of Executive Order on Refugee Resettlement

January 17, 2020

WASHINGTON—A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction in HIAS Inc., et al v. Trump, halting implementation of Executive Order 13888 which had given state and local officials the power to veto initial resettlement of refugees into their jurisdictions. Unless it is overturned by the judge or a higher court, this injunction lasts until the end of the case. The injunction orders that the resettlement program’s operational rules be returned to how they were before the Executive Order was issued on September 26, 2019. In other words, while the federal immigration officials will diligently engage with state and local officials, as always, to assure local concerns are taken into account, the program will return to federal officials having the final responsibility of deciding where refugees will be resettled.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“Jesus Christ, who was part of a refugee family, calls us to welcome the stranger, and our pro-life commitment requires us to protect refugees. Today’s ruling is a welcome step in our ongoing ministry to provide refugees, who are fleeing religious persecution, war, and other dangers, with safe haven here in the United States. We had previously expressed deep concerns about this Executive Order permitting state and county officials to turn away refugees from their communities. We feared the negative consequences for refugees and their families as this Executive Order would have created a confusing patchwork across America of some jurisdictions where refugees are welcomed, and others where they are not. Today’s injunction helps to maintain a uniform national policy of welcome to refugees and serves to maintain reunification of refugee families as a primary factor for initial resettlement.

“During the initial implementation of this Executive Order, I was moved to hear that it received robust bipartisan support from 42 governors and a myriad of local officials who consented to initial resettlement. Once more, we see the intention to act united as a nation in the effort to provide solidarity to those who need it most and are encouraged by the compassion that this nation has towards refugees. The Church looks forward to continue working with communities across America to welcome refugees as we uphold the dignity of all human life.”


U.S. Bishops Applaud Legislation Protecting Immigrant Farmworkers and U.S. Agricultural Industry

December 13, 2019

WASHINGTON— Two bishops who chair committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) applauded the passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5038). Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, spoke in support of this legislation, which would improve conditions for immigrant farmworkers and their families, as well as ensure the stability of the U.S. agricultural industry.

“The Farm Workforce Modernization Act was written in an effort to make a better system for both the farmer and the farmworkers and to create a more effective and humane agriculture industry. The Catholic Church has long recognized the dignity of work of both citizen and immigrant farmworkers and growers alike and welcomes changes in the law to help ensure greater protections,” said Archbishop Coakley.

Bishop Dorsonville noted, “I commend the lawmakers who worked on this important effort in a bipartisan manner and I urge the U.S. Senate to take up this bill which gives earned permanent residency for certain farmworkers.”

In November, the USCCB Committee on Migration and Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development sent a letter of support that can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.


The Catholic Church Urges Untiring Resistance to Immigration Jail

The Following is a Letter from Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne that was read to the Uinta County Commission before it voted to endorse a proposed detention facility because it would bring extra jobs to the area.


Recently, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) doubled the upper limit for an
immigration detention center proposed to be built near Evanston, Wyoming. The maximum
number of beds jumped from 500 to 1,000. Some believe that this change may be due to several
state and local governments cutting ties with ICE detention facilities or state legislatures passing
bills to deter immigrant detention in Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Illinois and California.
It seems prudent for Wyoming’s local and state officials to become better informed about issues
regarding for-profit prisons by conferring with those who are knowledgeable about these
institutions. They also should listen to the concerns of those who are living in the community in
which this facility potentially could reside.

The Catholic Church promotes faithful citizenship, and we urge all people of good will to
contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue. Everyone has a duty to weigh in on civic issues
so as to promote the common good. It is a concrete way of loving our neighbor. We seek to
uphold our dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and American citizens with rights and duties
as participants in the civil order.

The Catholic Church is gravely concerned about the practice of long-term and large-scale
detention of undocumented adult immigrants and their families within the U.S. The church has a
long history of supporting the dignity and rights of all immigrants. We view immigrant detention
centers from the perspective of our biblical tradition, which calls us to act with justice toward
persons on the margins of society, including strangers and imprisoned persons. Because of our
long experience as a pilgrim people, we know what it is like to be uprooted, persecuted and
imprisoned. Most of our ancestors came to this country to achieve a better life.

Jesus Christ commanded us to imitate his love; thus, he calls us to protect the rights of refugees,
to promote the reunification of families and to honor the inherent dignity of all migrants,
whatever their status. Regrettably, the U.S. immigrant detention system represents a far cry from
loving solidarity. It divides us from our migrant brothers and sisters and separates families. We
are particularly concerned about detaining young migrant mothers and fathers with their
children. This response from our nation to their flight from violence or persecution violates
human dignity and human rights. Children are dying; seven of them, in fact, met their demise
while in U.S. custody.

This is not to say that the Catholic Church does not acknowledge the role of the government in
ensuring public safety. We agree that those who are a threat to our communities should be
detained. Mandatory detention, however, contributes to the misconception that all immigrants are
criminals and a threat to our nation’s unity, security and well-being. It engenders despair, divides
families, causes asylum-seekers to relive trauma, leads many to forfeit their legal claims and fails
to treat all immigrants with respect.

Current immigrant detention policies are costly, inhumane and destructive to families. Many
immigrants are held in immigration detention centers away from their families and communities,
so they are unable to access legal assistance or other support. In fact, 81 percent of the
individuals currently in detention lack legal representation. Certainly, appropriate legal
representation is not readily available in Evanston, Wyoming. That location also separates those
detained there from families and any meaningful support system.

We must reject proposals to expand this inhumane immigrant detention system and efforts to
curtail existing protections for children and their families. If our public officials are willing to
secure this vital issue of human rights, then we are hopeful that migrants, regardless of their legal
status, will be treated with dignity and compassion when they arrive to our country. Ignoring an
issue regarding such grave violations of human dignity is not an option, and rhetoric that attacks
the human rights and dignity of the migrant is unfitting of any country, especially a nation of

Wyoming’s contribution to the immigration problem should not be to remain silent. Issues
surrounding immigration today demand everyone’s civic participation. This is especially true for
our legislators, but all people have a responsibility to speak out. For-profit prisons are only one
symptom of a larger issue that must be addressed by the federal government. Often action at the
federal level is driven when citizens at the local level raise their voices.

I encourage all people of good will to express their opposition to the proposed immigration jail
by signing petitions or by writing letters to the Uinta County Commissioners. I also encourage all
concerned citizens to communicate with Wyoming’s elected officials to express their opinions
against this for-profit prison.

Steven Biegler
Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne


Catholic Leaders Voice Concern Over New Asylum Rules

November 25, 2019
WASHINGTON – On Monday, November 18, the Administration published two notices in the Federal Register to implement asylum cooperative agreements with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The rules would allow the U.S. government to send asylum seekers to the three Central American countries without the opportunity to access asylum in the United States, and require the respective Central American governments to adjudicate asylum claims and attempt to provide protection.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and Chairman of the Committee on Migration for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), issued the following statement in response:

“Vulnerable individuals seeking protection and safety in the United States should be welcomed and given the chance to access the protection that our laws provide. If implemented, we fear that the asylum cooperation agreements would leave many helpless people, including families and children, unable to attain safety and freedom from violence and persecution. The governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras do not have the resources nor the capacity to safely accept, process, and integrate asylees. There are numerous concerns with the implementation of these agreements which have also been voiced . . . by the Catholic Church of Guatemala. Furthermore, these agreements do not address the root causes of forced migration and could further endanger the lives of people fleeing a region that continues to have some of the highest homicide rates in the world.

These rules, combined with the implementation of the Migration Protection Protocol and the continued hold of humanitarian and development assistance to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, undermines U.S. moral leadership in protecting vulnerable populations and risks further destabilizing the region. To preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, we cannot turn our back on families and individuals in desperate need of help. In light of the Gospel, let us always remember we are invited to embrace the foreigner and to take care of this human person. Let us move ourselves from a culture of indifference to a Christian culture of solidarity. We can and must do more.”