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USCCB Migration Chairman Endorses Proposed Senate Legislation That Gives Permanent Legal Protection to Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Holders

April 10, 2019

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration endorsed the “Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors” (DREAM) Act of 2019, S. 874 and the “Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression & Emergency” (SECURE) Act of 2019, S. 879. The DREAM Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers. The SECURE Act of 2019 would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship to qualifying Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.

“We support legislative efforts to fully integrate hard-working Dreamers and TPS holders into the United States. We need a permanent legislative solution for those who have spent their lives contributing and living in the United States, the country they know as home,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “Dreamers and TPS holders are vital members of our community who are going to school, working to make our communities better and raising families.”

Please see the USCCB Committee on Migration letters of support for the DREAM Act and Secure Act.

More information about Dreamers and TPS can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

2019-04-10T16:46:07-04:00Statements|

USCCB Letter of Support for Secure Act

April 10, 2019

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM), I write to urge you to support S. 879 the “Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and Emergency Act” (or the “SECURE Act”). This legislation, introduced on March 26, 2019 by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D- MD), will protect Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders and provide them with a pathway to lawful permanent resident status.

TPS is a renewable and statutorily-authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals of that country to return home. DED is a discretionary and temporary stay of removal that is granted by the President to individuals from designated countries. There are approximately 320,000 TPS holders in the U.S. who have recently experienced cancellation of the TPS designation for their home country and are now reliant on ongoing litigation to allow them to remain legally in the United States. These TPS holders are parents to over 273,000 U.S. Citizen children living here in the United States. Similarly, up to 4,000 Liberians are facing termination of DED, effective on March 30, 2020, unless litigation challenging the decision prevails. Many of these TPS and DED holders have been here for years; they are business owners, professionals and community leaders. We know these individuals to be hardworking contributors to American communities, Catholic parishes, and our nation.

We believe the future of TPS and DED holders and their loved ones is a family unity and human dignity issue. We are also responding to the call of Pope Francis who exhorts Catholics to act in solidarity with refugees, migrants, and all those seeking safety from the ravages of violence, environmental disasters, and despair.

The SECURE Act will allow individuals who had or were eligible for TPS from any country that has had a TPS designation, or who was in the U.S. under a grant of DED extended beyond September 28, 2016, to move forward with lawful permanent resident status if they have been continuously present in the U.S. for at least three years and are present upon application; or, for those removed on or after September 28, 2016, was continuously present in the U.S. for at least three years prior to their removal or voluntary departure. Eligible individuals must also meet all current criminal and national security requirements for admissibility and pass a background check. The bill would allow them to work legally during the pendency of their applications.

Finding a legislative solution for TPS and DED holders and their families is critical for humanitarian and regional stability. The Catholic Church stands ready to work with Congress and will continue to welcome TPS and DED holders and their families into our parishes and communities.

Sincerely,

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

2019-04-10T15:32:56-04:00Statements|

USCCB Letter of Support for the DREAM Act of 2019

Dear Senator:

I write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge you to support S. 874 the “Dream Act of 2019.” This bipartisan legislation, introduced on March 26, 2019 by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), would protect numerous immigrant youth from deportation, including the approximately 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

The Dream Act is intended to protect immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The bill offers qualifying immigrant youth “conditional permanent resident status” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship. In order 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. Current DACA recipients are also deemed eligible for the conditional status. S.874 allows recipients of this conditional status to obtain non-conditional lawful permanent residency if they satisfy requirements that include: background checks; demonstrated English proficiency; and either education in a higher learning institution, honorable military service, three years of employment in the United States, or a hardship exception.

My brother bishops and I believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children. The Catholic Bishops have long supported these immigrant youth and their families who are contributors to our economy, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. These youth have grown up in our country, some even choosing to put their lives on the line to serve in our armed forces. They truly exemplify the extraordinary contributions that immigrants can provide to our nation. It is both our moral duty and, in our nation’s best interest to protect these youth and allow them to reach their God-given potential.

For these reasons, we ask you to support and co-sponsor the Dream Act of 2019. We also urge you to continue to work towards the larger legislative reform of our immigration laws that our country so desperately needs. As always, USCCB/COM stands ready to work with Congress to reform our immigration system in a humane, just, and common-sense manner.

Sincerely,

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

2019-04-10T15:30:19-04:00Statements|

Migration Chairman and CRS Urge US Government to Designate Temporary Protected Status for Venezuela

WASHINGTON—On April 4, 2019 Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, joined Sean Callahan, CEO of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, and Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, urging an 18-month designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuela.

TPS is a temporary, renewable, and statutorily-authorized immigration status that allows individuals to remain and work lawfully in the U.S. during a period in which it is deemed unsafe for nationals to return to their home country.

There is no current TPS designation for Venezuela. However, conditions in the country and existing political instability have created a situation in which Venezuelan nationals cannot be safely returned home at this time. The Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference have recently noted the numerous violations of fundamental human rights inflicted by the country’s police and the violation of citizens’ access to health and medicine. Catholic partners have further reported on the acute food shortages and malnutrition facing the country.

“At this time, it is vital that Venezuelans in the United States have an opportunity to live with dignity, work lawfully, and provide for their families’ well-being until they can safely return home.” Bishop Vasquez noted. “We must provide humanitarian assistance to all our Venezuelan brothers and sisters in need, whether they live in the United States, in other South American countries, or in Venezuela itself,” Callahan said.

Read the full letter here.

2019-04-04T16:13:07-04:00Statements|

USCCB Migration Chairman Endorses Proposed Legislation That Gives Permanent Legal Protection to Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Holders

March 15, 2019

WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Migration endorsed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), legislation that would provide permanent legal protection and a pathway to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders.

“We need a permanent legislative solution for those who have spent their lives contributing and living in the United States, the country they know as home,” said Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “Dreamers and TPS holders are vital members of our community who are going to school, working to make our communities better and raising families. They have lived in limbo for far too long and now is the time for a solution.”

On Wednesday, March 6th, Most Reverend Mario Dorsonville-Rodriguez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and a Committee on Migration member testified before the House Judiciary Committee at the hearing “Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients.” The full written testimony of Bishop Dorsonville-Rodriguez and the hearing can also be seen in its entirety here.

Please see the USCCB Committee on Migration letter of support here.

More information about Dreamers and TPS can be found on the Justice for Immigrants website.

2019-03-15T14:40:57-04:00Statements|

USCCB Migration Chairman Letter Supporting Proposed Legislation That Gives Permanent Legal Protection to Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Holders

March 15, 2019

Dear Representative:

I write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge you to support H.R. 6, the “American Dream and Promise Act of 2019.” This legislation, introduced on March 12, 2019, by Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY),and Yvette Clarke (D-FL) on behalf of 201 other original cosponsors, would provide lawful permanent residency and a path to citizenship for qualifying Dreamers and holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 provides critical protection to Dreamers, immigrant youths who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The bill offers qualifying young people “permanent resident status on a conditional basis” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship. Additionally, H.R. 6 provides lawful permanent resident status for eligible individuals from countries designated for TPS or DED as of 2016 and who have been living in the U.S. for at least three years. The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 also amends current TPS law to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide a detailed explanation of a decision to terminate a TPS designation, including a report to Congress three days after publishing a notice of such termination.

My brother bishops and I believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and families. The Catholic Bishops have long supported Dreamers and TPS holders, as well as their families. We recognize and admire these individuals as  contributors to our economy, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes. It is both our moral duty and in our nation’s best interest to protect them and allow them to reach their full God-given potential.

For these reasons, we ask you to support and co-sponsor H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019. If you already have joined as a cosponsor, we would like to thank you for your support. We also urge you to continue to work towards the larger legislative reform of our immigration laws that our country so desperately needs. As always, USCCB/COM stands ready to work with Congress to reform our immigration system in a humane, just, and common-sense manner.

Sincerely,

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

 

Click here for a PDF Version of the Dream and Promise Act Letter

2019-03-15T13:43:05-04:00Statements|

USCCB Migration Chairman and CRS President Issue Statement Supporting Texas-Mexico Border Bishops’ Statement on Recent U.S. Government Asylum Policy

March 13, 2019

WASHINGTON— Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and Sean Callahan, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services issue the following statement in solidarity with the March 4th statement of the Texas and Mexico Border Bishops.

The full statement follows:

“Consistent with the Texas-Mexico Border Bishops’ March 4th statement, we oppose U.S. policy requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while waiting to access protection in the United States. We urge the Administration to reverse this policy, which needlessly increases the suffering of the most vulnerable and violates international protocols. We steadfastly affirm a person’s right to seek asylum and find recent efforts to curtail and deter that right deeply troubling. We must look beyond our borders; families are escaping extreme violence and poverty at home and are fleeing for their lives. Our staff and partners in Central America witness the suffering there and fight against it. Our government must adopt policies and provide more funding that address root causes of migration and promote human dignity and sustainable livelihoods. Like the Texas-Mexico Border Bishops, we recommit to Pope Francis’s call to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters in Christ.”

For more information on the U.S. government’s Migration Protection Protocol policy which requires certain asylum seekers to wait in Mexico please click here.

2019-03-13T14:34:51-04:00Statements|

President of U.S. Bishops’ and Chairman of Bishop’s Committee on Migration Respond to President’s Order to Build Border Wall

February 15, 2019

WASHINGTON—Today President Trump announced that he will issue an order stating his intention to make use of funds previously appropriated for other purposes to fund the construction of a border wall at the U.S./Mexico border that Congress has refused to fund.  Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement:

“We are deeply concerned about the President’s action to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, which circumvents the clear intent of Congress to limit funding of a wall.  We oppose the use of these funds to further the construction of the wall. The wall first and foremost is a symbol of division and animosity between two friendly countries. We remain steadfast and resolute in the vision articulated by Pope Francis that at this time we need to be building bridges and not walls.”

2019-02-15T13:26:27-04:00Statements|

U.S. Bishops President Along with Chairman of Bishops’ Migration Committee Issue Statement Urging the President and Lawmakers to End the Shutdown

January 20, 2019

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Houston, Texas, President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following joint statement in response to the President’s January 19th remarks:

“We urge the President and lawmakers to end the shutdown. Political leaders must come together to ensure a bipartisan solution is reached which recognizes the economic struggle that many families are facing including those dependent on federal workers and those assisted by critical nutrition and housing programs.

We are encouraged by the President’s openness to providing legislative relief for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients. However, we understand that the President’s proposal would only provide temporary relief, leaving many in a continued vulnerable state. We believe that a permanent legislative solution for TPS holders and for all Dreamers is vital. Moreover, the proposal calls for the construction of a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, a proposal that our brother bishops on both sides of the U.S. border with Mexico oppose, and it suggests changes in current law that would make it more difficult for unaccompanied children and asylum seekers to access protection.

Throughout our parishes, there are many DACA youth and TPS holders, who have lived substantial parts of their lives in the U.S. contributing to this country. We listen and understand the fear and uncertainty they and their families face and the anguish that they are currently experiencing as their existing immigration protections hang in the balance and come to an end. Temporary relief will not ease those fears or quell that anxiety. It is for this reason that we have long advocated for comprehensive immigration reform; reform that will provide permanent solutions: including border security, protection for vulnerable unaccompanied children and asylum seekers, and a defined path to citizenship to enable our immigrant brothers and sisters to fully contribute to our society.

We look forward to reviewing the President’s proposal in detail and hope to work with the White House and Congress to advance legislation that shows compassion, keeps us safe, and protects the vulnerable.”

2019-01-21T15:23:57-04:00Statements|

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Calls on President and Congress to Create a Border Solution and End Shut-Down

Bishop Joseph Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration issued the following statement calling for the President and Congressional leaders to create a border solution and end the government shut-down.

Bishop Vasquez’s full statement follows:

“Secure borders and humane treatment of those fleeing persecution and seeking a better life are not mutually exclusive. The United States can ensure both and must do so without instilling fear or sowing hatred. We will continue to advocate for immigration reform to advance the common good and address these issues.

Pope Francis states that migrants are not statistics, but persons with feelings that need ongoing protection. From our work serving immigrant and refugees along the U.S./Mexico border, in the interior of the United States and throughout the world, we know this to be true. We urge lawmakers to look beyond rhetoric and remember the human dignity that God our Father has given each of us simply because we are all His children.

The President and Congressional leaders need to come together and end the shut-down with a solution that recognizes the dignity of work of affected employees, respects the humanity of all regardless of immigration status, and protects the sanctity of human life.”

2019-01-10T10:42:38-04:00Statements|