BY ISN STAFF | November 22, 2014
WASHINGTON D.C. – In a statement released on November 21, 2014, the U.S. Jesuit Conference, Jesuit Refugee Service USA and Kino Border Initiative, joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in welcoming President Obama’s announcement of temporary relief from deportation for as many as five million of our community members. The statement follows the U.S. Bishops’ statement released the previous day which emphasized the importance of keeping families together in the Obama administration’s executive action.
Noting the many ways that U.S. Jesuits encounter those challenged by current immigration policies the statement said, “we witness on a daily basis the tragic consequences of our nation’s current immigration laws and policies.” The Kino Border Initiative located on the Arizona-Mexico border is one example of the variety of ways that Jesuits and affiliated works are ministering to immigrants across the U.S. Other examples include parish ministries, secondary and higher education institutions that openly accept and offer financial aid to undocumented students, as well as many other social ministries.
While recognizing the positive impacts of protecting upwards of 5 million people from deportation, the statement also identifies areas seen as problematic. Expressing concern about the actions of border patrol personnel the Jesuit statement notes that, “the Administration has failed to seize the opportunity to increase oversight, accountability, transparency and justice in its implementation of border policy.” Additionally, the increased militarization of the US-Mexico border continues to be a grave concern of the U.S. Jesuits.
The statement closes with an emphasis on the need for a legislative reform that creates a “viable” immigration system. The call for comprehensive immigration reform and policies that protect children and families seeking refuge from violence in Central America has been a consistent mantra of the Jesuits and lay partners. In 2010, the Jesuit provincials of the United States issued a public letter to Congressional leaders and President Obama calling for passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that included a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the U.S. Earlier this year, Thomas Smolich, S.J., who was serving as president of the U.S. Jesuit Conference thru July 31, 2014, in a letter Rep. John Boehner and other Jesuit educated members of the U.S. Congress to act for reforms that protected the rights of children and families seeking protection from violence in Central America. Also, in July of this year over 1,200 alumni of U.S. high schools and universities sent a letter to Jesuit school alumni in the U.S. House of Representative asking for them to pass humane comprehensive immigration reform legislation. This letter was coordinated by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
The full statement by the U.S. Jesuits can be read here.
[SOURCE: U.S. Jesuit Conference]
The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) is a national social justice network inspired by the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola. ISN was founded in 2004 and is a lay-led organization working in partnership with Jesuit universities, high schools, and parishes, along with many other Catholic institutions and social justice partners. More information can be found at: www.www.ignatiansolidarity.net.