National Migration Week, 2018
For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.
The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to the fact that each of our families have a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past. Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.
Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture we often fail to encounter migrants as persons, and instead look at them as unknown others, if we even notice them at all. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious or fearful of them. During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members, neighbors, and friends.
Position: The Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Church support humane immigration reform. We must reform our broken system that separates families and denies due process.
• Since 2010, 3.6 million immigrants have become naturalized U.S. citizens.
• Unauthorized immigrants also pay a wide range of taxes, including sales taxes where applicable and property taxes – directly if they own and indirectly if they rent. Estimates are that undocumented migrants pay $11.64 billion every year in state and local taxes.
• In many cases, it can take over a decade for legal permanent residents to reunify with immediate family members from Mexico, the Philippines, and other countries (See Congressional Research Service).
Position: USCCB supports protection, humanitarian support, and durable solutions for refugees and other forcibly displaced people. USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services in collaboration with local Catholic Charities across the United State form the largest private, U.S. refugee resettlement network, and has helped welcome and resettle over one million refugees since 1975.
• The U.S. resettled 53,716 refugees in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 including 20,232 from Africa, 5,173 from East Asia, 5,205 from Europe, 1,688 from Latin America, and 21,418 from the Near East.
• The top six populations resettled during FY 2017 were from: Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Burma, and Ukraine. Id.
• An estimated 21,027 Syrian refugees have been resettled in the United States since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Id.
• According to the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 65.6 million persons were displaced in the world at the end of 2016. (UNHCR )
Unaccompanied Children and Families from Central America:
Position: The United States should provide child welfare protection, refugee protection, and safe, humane durable solutions for unaccompanied children arriving at our borders without their parent or legal guardian. In recent years, many of these children have been from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Most are fleeing grave, life-threatening violence and gang recruitment and are seeking to reunify with family in the United States.
• In FY 2015, Mexico deported 165,000 Central Americans. The number detained in Mexico has tripled in the past four years amid growing pressure and economic support from the US to stem the flow. (The Guardian)
• In calendar year 2016, the United States and Mexico returned 216,872 people to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Position: The United States should fix our broken immigration system instead of taking an enforcement-only approach to dealing with irregular migration. Immigrant detention is a growing industry in this country, with Congress allocating as much as $2 billion a year to maintain and expand it. The Administration’s FY 2018 budget requests even more funding for detention. Due to mandatory detention laws people who are not flight risks or risks to national security and are extremely vulnerable, such as asylum-seekers, families, and victims of human trafficking, are being held unnecessarily in detention. There are alternatives to detention that are more humane, more cost-effective, and more consistent with American values.Facts:
• In FY2015 the Department of Homeland Security detained 406,595 immigrants compared to 486,651 in FY2014. (Department of Homeland Security)
• Over 200 county and city prisons contract with the federal government to detain immigrants and account for 67 percent of the population.
• Community-based alternatives to detention programs cost on average $10.55 per person per day, as compared to $164 per person per day for detention. (GAO)
Position: The United States must not only hold human traffickers accountable for their crimes, but also work to prevent trafficking and provide protection and healing to victims of trafficking.
Human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of subjecting that person to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery. The Catholic Church has long condemned this practice as an affront to human dignity.Facts:
• Estimates vary, but as many as 17,500 persons are trafficked into the United States annually.
• Although sex trafficking remains a serious problem, the two largest trafficking cases in the United States involved labor trafficking, in Guam and in New York (Long Island).
Prayer for RefugeesGood and gracious God, we pray for all people who are migrating particularly those who are forced from their homes or separated from their families because of threats of violence and persecution. We ask that you protect and keep them safe.
Although we come from different countries, and have our origins in different cultures, we were all created by you, and are made in your image, and therefore we all share an inalienable dignity that is deserving of respect.
Lord, we ask that you give us the strength to defend those who are marginalized, to give aid to those in need, to come to the defense of those who are poor or vulnerable, and to welcome those who are on the move into our homes and into our hearts.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(Reprinted with permission of the usccb.org)