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Immigration and the Church

Catholic agencies say arrival of refugees slowed by security measures

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The number of refugees taking shelter in the United States has slowed to a trickle following new security measures put in place by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Meanwhile, Catholic refugee resettlement offices across the country are left waiting, uncertain when the flow of refugees will begin again -- and when it does, how many refugees may be allowed to enter the country.

Last year, the United States welcomed 75,417 refugees -- people escaping religious or political persecution, poverty, natural disasters and more.

The number is determined every year by the president in consultation with Congress; the slots are divided among different regions of the world. In October, President Barack Obama authorized 80,000 refugees be accepted during fiscal year 2011, which runs from October 2010 to September 2011.

Each year, the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services and its diocesan affiliates resettle between 27 percent and 28 percent of the total number authorized to come to the United States, with other aid organizations helping the rest.

Obama launches new push for immigration reform during Texas visit

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama chose the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border to launch a push for immigration reform that the administration has been working toward for about a month.

As dozens of states this legislative session have considered -- and most have rejected -- measures that would localize immigration enforcement that comes under federal authority, Obama has been building support among religious leaders, business groups, prominent immigrants and others for a new immigration reform effort.

As states advance bills, Obama calls for federal immigration changes

WASHINGTON -- With more legislatures taking public frustration over immigration-related problems into state-level hands, President Barack Obama renewed his commitment to putting his political weight and the resources of his administration behind a federal approach to reform.

But as he told participants in a White House meeting April 19, the responsibility for legislation to fix the multilayered immigration mess lies with Congress.

"Padre da un consejo!"

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“Padre da un consejo!”

What priest who ministers in an Hispanic parish has not heard this many times a week or more?

“ ‘La migra’- they arrested my husband and deported him back to Mexico and me and my children are here illegally. When I go down to ‘la emergencia’ they ask me if we are citizens? If we are here illegally? I know it is a sin to lie Padre, but what do I say? ‘Mi hijo’-he needs the medicines and we can’t pay. Do I lie?”

Our people carry so many burdens.

P. Jose Rankin

Vatican official: Promote rights, dignity of Gypsies

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VATICAN CITY -- Centuries-old discrimination against Gypsies can be overcome with initiatives to encourage education and integration coupled with a desire to reach out to others, a Vatican official said.

Archbishop Antonio Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said the church has been working to help create the structures and the environment that will "change the minds of people within and outside the church" regarding nomadic peoples known as Gypsies.

At a book fair specializing in social issues in Grottaferrata, south of Rome, Archbishop Veglio said April 15 that Gypsies have suffered isolation and persecution throughout history.

He said that within the pontifical council, the term Gypsy, sometimes a pejorative and offensive to nomadic people, is used because it can include nomadic peoples around the world. The terms Roma and Sinti refer more specifically to the nomadic populations in Europe, he explained.

Integration has been difficult because of rejection by local populations as well as fear of absorption and loss of identity on the part of the Gypsy people, Archbishop Veglio said.

Times profiles anti-immigration advocate

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The New York Times April 17th published an extensive profile of a Michigan man who has been the most influential anti immigration advocate in America.

The Times article wrote: One group that Dr. John Tanton nurtured, Numbers USA, doomed President George W. Bush’s legalization plan four years ago by overwhelming Congress with protest calls. Another, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, helped draft the Arizona law last year to give the police new power to identify and detain illegal immigrants.

A third organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, joined the others in December in defeating the Dream Act, which sought to legalize some people brought to the United States illegally as children.

Dominican University hosts comprehensive immigration panel

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Students, faculty, religious leaders and concerned neighbors attended “Is Dreaming Illegal? Seeking Sustainable Solutions”, Dominican University’s immigration forum Tuesday, March 15. Dominican University is a small, Catholic institution with about 4,000 students located in River Forest Illinois.

The evening’s discussion addressed the statistical, legal, theological and ethical aspects of immigration, beginning with the question “Is dreaming illegal?”

Mexican couple in Minn. weighs life in the shadows

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For Miguel and Gabriela, leaving Mexico was a wrenching process, in part made necessary by the diagnosis of lupus that explained Miguel's persistent sickness. But though they say life is mostly better for them in the United States, the couple from Sacred Heart Parish in St. Paul said they live in constant fear of being arrested for being in the country.

Italy's immigration puts church teaching to test

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VATICAN CITY -- The new flow of North African immigrants into Italy is putting the Vatican's teaching on immigration to the test.

More than 22,000 "boat people," many fleeing political unrest in Tunisia and Libya, have arrived on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa this year. The fighting in Libya has spurred more people to flee in recent days. Not all survive the trip: About 150 people drowned April 6 when a migrant boat capsized in rough seas.

Church leaders have underlined the broad right to emigrate, the specific rights of refugees and the responsibility of wealthier nations to welcome those in need. But their moral advocacy has provoked criticism and even derision among some Italians, who have suggested that the Vatican and other religious institutions be the first to open their doors to the wave of immigrants.

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October 10-23, 2014

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