ISN STAFF | March 16, 2023
On Tuesday, March 21st, the Jesuit Migration Network and people seeking asylum in Nogales will hold “We Say Welcome,” a press conference and binational solidarity event to mark three years of the U.S. government using Title 42 to restrict asylum under the pretext of COVID restrictions. Faith leaders and advocates will come together to urge U.S. officials to restore a fair, humane asylum process for women, men, and children who have been stuck in danger and uncertainty for months or years.
During the press conference, to be held at 1pm MST/4pm EST, advocates will share the ways they have opened their arms to welcome families seeking safety in their communities, and why their faith inspires them to do so. People waiting in Nogales for access to asylum will share the obstacles they face while stranded in Mexico, including challenges to acquiring an appointment for processing through the CBPOne App.
“Over the past three years, the Ignatian network has called on our national leaders to end Title 42, which has restricted families and individuals from accessing their legal right to asylum, said Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network. “Catholic Social Teaching and the story of the Holy Family are both reminders that we are always called to protect the most vulnerable, particularly those who migrate seeking safety from violence and government oppression.”
People affected by the various restrictions speaking out at the press conference continue expressing their disappointment in the barriers to accessing life-saving asylum. Cristina*, a mother fleeing from Michoacan with her husband, three daughters, and son, is currently seeking asylum through the CBP One application. When asked about her process, she responded, “I never wanted to live in the United States. But now finding security for my family is the highest priority. For us it was a very difficult decision to have to leave our world, our life, my daughters — their studies; because of these people who come ask you for money, who extort you. And unfortunately, we were advised to file a police report. Afterwards, these people began making death threats over the lives of our kids. My single hope is that the best is yet to come for us and overall, my children. A safe place, where my children are no longer in danger.”
“Let’s be honest: Title 42 is an anti-immigration, anti-asylum policy imposed under the guise of the pandemic, which has long since receded in most all aspects of our daily life, that continues to result in thousands of vulnerable men, women and children living in often horrific conditions in dangerous cities in northern Mexico,” said Fr. Brian Strassburger, S.J., a Jesuit who ministers to migrants in the Rio Grande Valley. “But that seems to be just far enough out of sight to stay out of mind for the American public and politicians. Looking with the eyes of faith, however, I see the face of Christ in the migrants I encounter and feel compelled to welcome them with compassion and advocate for justice, including the long overdue end to Title 42.”
“We at the Kino Border Initiative have seen the deadly consequences when families seeking protection face more barriers at our U.S.-Mexico border,” said Sister Tracey Horan, S.P., associate director of education and advocacy, Kino Border Initiative, in a press call in January. “…We hope that President Biden, himself a Catholic, will discern his actions in light of Catholic teachings and choose paths to welcome over barriers…that exclude families seeking safety.”
Service providers and advocates are ready to welcome people arriving to the border and to collaborate with the administration to ensure a functional, orderly and humane asylum process. This is an opportunity for the Biden administration to reaffirm their values and push for the full restoration of asylum protections.
“President Biden’s State of the Union recognized the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform, yet it was a missed opportunity to address his Administration’s approach to meeting the challenges faced by the U.S. asylum system,” said Joan Rosenhauer, executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service USA, in a statement published last month. “While the Administration has expanded its use of humanitarian parole, this program excludes the most vulnerable from applying and is a short-term solution that will leave even those accepted in legal limbo. We urge the Administration to work with Congress to develop a more sustainable approach to reforming the U.S. asylum system so that anyone with a protection need can safely petition for asylum in the U.S. with the dignity they deserve.”
The press conference and binational solidarity event will take place March 21st at 1pm MST/4 pm EDT and will be livestreamed. “We Say Welcome” is co-sponsored by Kino Border Initiative, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, Jesuit Refugee Service USA, and the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology.