MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA -- March 2009. That was the last time Felix Hernandez saw his wife, Cynthia, in the United States. Immigration and Customs Enforcement picked her up during a raid at her workplace, the former Swift & Company, a meat-processing plant in Marshalltown, for working without documentation. She was deported to Mexico and has been there since.
Immigration and the Church
SAN FRANCISCO -- Hundreds of immigrants and their supporters joined Archbishop George Niederauer at St. Mary's Cathedral on Jan. 28 to demonstrate their opposition to Secure Communities, a federal program that has resulted in the deportation of more than 60,000 undocumented residents of California in the last two years.
Seven in every 10 of those 60,000 were not convicted or were arrested for a minor offense, such as selling food without a permit, according to the website of Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a Catholic introducing legislation that will allow cities and counties in California to opt out of the program. Niederauer has endorsed the proposal.
Currently, participating police and sheriff departments send the fingerprints of all arrestees to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for verification of immigration status, usually while the person is still in pretrial custody. Those found to be undocumented are held for up to two days in local jails until ICE picks them up for detention and potential deportation.
WASHINGTON -- More than 5,000 children of immigrants are languishing in state foster care nationwide because their parents were living in the United States illegally and were detained or deported by federal immigration authorities.
These children can spend years in foster homes, and some are put up for adoption after termination of their parents' custody rights. With neither state nor federal officials addressing the problem, thousands more are poised to enter the child welfare system every year.
"They can be dropped into the foster care system for an indefinite period of time," says Wendy D. Cervantes, vice president for immigration and child rights policy at First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. "This causes severe long-term consequences to a child's development. It has a negative impact on the country as a whole and a direct impact on taxpayers. The fact that these children have parents means they shouldn't be in the system in the first place."
If you are in the San Francisco area, you may be interested in this event about Secure Communities and what Catholics and people of other faith traditions are saying. NCR received a press release this morning:
Event to Stop the Deportations and the Separation of Our Families,
January 28th, 2pm, St. Mary's Cathedral (1111 Gough St. San Francisco, CA)
On January 28th we are uniting as a city-wide, faith community (and especially the Catholic community) to announce our solution to the division of families, the increase of fear, and the lack of immigrant trust in the local police: the Trust Act of 2012 (presented in the State Assembly by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano). This act will help prevent further deportations caused by S-COMM (the text is still being drafted and will be discussed at the event). We will listen to the testimony of immigrant family members affected by S-COMM, we will share further information on S-COMM's now 55,000 deportations in California, we will participate in prayer, and stand with a variety of local and state government officials, police and sheriff's officers, and other public figures that support the immigrant community. We will do this so that our faith community's collective voice can be heard by the Governor in support of the Trust Act, against S-COMM, and in favor of family unity.
SALT LAKE CITY -- Putting the cart in front of the horse is one way to describe the federal government's pursuing immigration enforcement before immigration reform, according to participants at a recent conference here.
The three-day gathering was convened in Salt Lake City by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its Migration and Refugee Services, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC).
The Chicago Tribune reports today this story:
"Sent back to Mexico by the Chicago-area medical center that had treated his crippling injury, the young quadriplegic languished for more than a year in a small-town hospital ill-equipped to handle his needs.
Quelino Ojeda Jimenez, who needed a ventilator to breathe, suffered two episodes of cardiac arrest in that facility as well as developing bedsores and a septic infection, officials said.
On Sunday, just 30 minutes into the new year, Ojeda died at age 21, said Jeromino Ramirez Luis, director of the General Hospital of Juchitan in Mexico, which took over his care from the smaller facility last month. Ramirez said the causes were pneumonia, sepsis and the effects of the spinal injury Ojeda suffered while working illegally in the United States."
PORTLAND, Ore. -- As Republican presidential candidates debate the volatile topic of immigration, federal enforcement officers are quietly enacting a new policy that could bring what one Oregon lawyer calls a "seismic shift."
Under new rules adopted by the Obama administration in 2011, deportation is reserved for felons, national security risks or repeat immigration offenders. Undocumented immigrants guilty only of minor legal violations and who have long and substantial ties in the United States would have their deportation cases set aside.
That could fulfill one demand issued by the U.S. Catholic bishops -- that immigrant families not be broken up over small offenses such as a broken taillight. Until now, agents have presumed that any violation could be a path to deportation.
The change is "a potential seismic shift in enforcement," said Geoffrey Scowcroft, an attorney who manages immigration legal services for Catholic Charities in Oregon. "We are in the very early stages of this, but this policy is as close to good news as we have seen in years," said Scowcroft, who helps immigrants negotiate the legal system.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) Gov. Robert Bentley won't support a repeal of the state's get-tough immigration law, rejecting a Christmas appeal from a group of top religious leaders.
"Gov. Bentley believes Alabama needs an effective illegal immigration law because the federal government has failed in its duties to enforce the law," wrote Bentley's press secretary, Jennifer Ardis, in an email.
CHICAGO -- Catholic advocates for immigration reform used a Dec. 16 "posada," a traditional Mexican re-enactment of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem, to demonstrate the need to change the immigration system.
The posada was led by Chicago Auxiliary Bishops John R. Manz and Alberto Rojas and a couple portraying Mary and Joseph as they search for a place where they will be welcomed.
Note: The U.S. Hispanic and Latino Bishops released a letter to immigrants Dec. 12. Below is the text with the 33 signatories:
LETTER OF THE HISPANIC/LATINO BISHOPS TO IMMIGRANTS
Dear immigrant sisters and brothers,
May the peace and grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you!
We the undersigned Hispanic/Latino Bishops of the United States wish to let those of you who lack proper authorization to live and work in our country know that you are not alone, or forgotten. We recognize that every human being, authorized or not, is an image of God and therefore possesses infinite value and dignity. We open our arms and hearts to you, and we receive you as members of our Catholic family. As pastors, we direct these words to you from the depths of our heart.