The Jesuits of the United States have made a longstanding commitment to serve and walk with migrants from their countries of origin and in the United States. This commitment means that we advocate for comprehensive and humane immigration reform that honors the inherent dignity of each and every migrant. In our advocacy, we support strengthening due process, accountability, and transparency in our immigration enforcement system, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, passage of the DREAM Act, and expedited family reunification.
Pathway to Citizenship
There are an estimated eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the United States today. Eleven million people who are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers; in other words real people with real lives and roots in our country. Separating these families from each other is not only immoral; it would be impossible. The United States cannot deport its way out of the current migration crisis.
Our country has a special responsibility to welcome those migrants who came to this country as children. The DREAM Act would allow for a special path to becoming a U.S. citizen for individuals who came to this country as a child and who serve in our military or complete college degrees. Young people are our nation’s future; immigrant youth who have been raised in our country and only lack citizenship should not be punished for decisions their parents made.
In FY 2013, the United States deported more than 368,000 migrants, or a little more than 1,000 people a day. The manner in which deportations are often conducted places migrants in unnecessary danger. For instance, many migrants are separated from their travel companions, deported at all hours of the day and night, or released to dangerous border communities in Mexico without consulting with Mexican migration authorities.
As government spending on securing the border has rapidly increased over the past decade, little has been done to address the humanitarian and civil rights crisis at our border. Countless immigrants are denied their fair day in court and are given prison sentences for immigration offenses, which were previously civil offenses, through programs like Operation Streamline.
The Jesuit Response
Many Jesuit high schools, universities, and parishes in the United States were founded to serve immigrants. The Jesuits in the United States have continued this longstanding commitment to serving migrants in a variety of ways. The Kino Border Initiative, a bi-national migrant ministry, serves deported migrant in Mexico and educates and advocates on behalf of migrants and humane enforcement policies in the United States. Loyola University Chicago is the first university in the United States to accept DREAM students into its medical school. The Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans does research, advocacy, and community education on migration issues in the Gulf South. The Jesuits also operate a number parishes that serve immigrants, like Dolores Mission in Los Angeles and Sacred Heart Parish in Richmond, Virginia.
The National Advocacy Office, alongside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, is advocating for comprehensive immigration legislation with a pathway to citizenship. We are also pressuring Congress and the Administration to address the humanitarian and civil rights crisis at our border by making humane changes to our enforcement policy. Since a holistic approach to immigration reform must include programs and policies to address the reasons people migrate, we have been supporting our Jesuit partners in Central America and advocating for smarter U.S. policies in the region.
Reports, Statements, and Sign-On’s