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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign has issued the following Action Alert on Friday, July 18, 2014:

Take Action!Immediate Action Needed: Please urge your Senators and Representative to oppose legislative efforts to strip protections away from unaccompanied children who are fleeing from violence in Central America and seeking refuge in the United States. This includes, among others, efforts to reduce protections by changing the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act (2008) or the Homeland Security Act (2002). Urge them to pass a supplemental that provides for the care and protection of vulnerable children, ensures that their due process rights are preserved, and addresses the root causes of their flight, particularly violence in their home countries. Also, use part of the supplemental to fully restore critical ORR FY2014 funding for refugees and all the other vulnerable populations under the care of ORR.

Background: Central American children are continuing to flee the rampant violence in their countries. Some travel to the United States seeking refuge and are placed under ORR’s care. With the fourth quarter just beginning, the number of arriving children has well-exceeded projections for the full fiscal year. ORR notified Congress that it will reprogram $94 million to begin to meet the needs of the vulnerable children by taking funding from refugees and the other vulnerable populations under its care. These populations include refugees, unaccompanied refugee minors, asylees, Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrants, Cuban/Haitian entrants, and victims of torture, trafficking, and serious crime. Without critical supplemental funding in FY2014 and continued robust funding in FY2015, vital programs that assist refugees, unaccompanied children and other vulnerable populations and support communities that welcome them will continue facing the loss of significant funding and capacity. ORR is already chronically underfunded. These cuts would have devastating consequences for ORR’s vulnerable populations and the communities that welcome them.

The White House has asked Congress for more discretionary enforcement authority over the children. This would reduce the children’s due process, refugee protections, child protections, and protection from human traffickers. The Administration also has asked Congress to pass an FY2014 emergency supplemental of $3.7 billion to address the urgent humanitarian situation, including $1.83 billion for ORR to assure proper care of the children and to assure proper funding for FY2014 for refugees and all other populations under ORR’s care.

Please take the following actions and spread the word about this urgent alert:

Call both your Senators and your Representative. You can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or find their direct office
lines on their websites at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. Tell them:

  • I’m your constituent from [city, state] and I care about refugees, unaccompanied children, and other vulnerable populations.
  • I urge you to oppose statutory changes that would strip protections from vulnerable, unaccompanied refugee children and send them back to danger in their home countries.
  • The children deserve and need the protections as children seeking refuge from violence. The protections help keep them from harm in this country and their home countries.
  • I urge you to support supplemental funding that provides for the care and protection of vulnerable unaccompanied children, ensures that their due process rights are preserved, and addresses the root causes of their flight, particularly violence in their home countries.
  • Without these increases, ORR will not have sufficient funds to serve refugees, unaccompanied children, and other vulnerable groups under its care and will be forced to continue cutting services to refugees and other vulnerable populations.
  • I urge that you also use part of the supplemental to fully restore critical ORR FY2014 funding for refugees and all vulnerable populations under ORR’s care.
  • These critical services help refugees and other vulnerable populations learn English and find jobs so they can support themselves and their families and better contribute to their new communities.

You can use the USCCB’s advocacy action system to contact your representative and senator via e-mail here.

Other ways you can act on this alert:

WRITE your Representative and Senators. Find their addresses on their websites at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. See
accompanying sample letter.

MEET with your Senators and Representative or their staff members in your local home state and district. A toolkit for meeting with your Members of Congress can be found at rcusa.org/wrd2014. Use the above asks and messages.

SPREAD THE WORD THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA by finding your Representative’s and Senators’ Twitter Handles at
https://twitter.com/cspan/lists/members-of-congress and urge them to increase ORR funding. See samples below:

  • .@[their twitter handle] Please stop efforts to strip protections from unaccomp kids fleeing C. American violence & seeking refuge in US
  • .@[their twitter handle] Please support supp funding that provides care & protection for vulnerable Central American unaccomp children #UAC
  • .@[their twitter handle] Please ensure due process rights are preserved & addresses the root causes C. America children fleeing violence
  • .@[their twitter handle] Please use part of supplemental to fully restore critical ORR FY14 funds for refugees & all vulnerable in ORR care

TWEET TO SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER & SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID:

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