Posts Tagged ‘Justice for Immigrants’

Jesuit Accompanies Santa Clara University Law Student in Border Protest

DREAMERs protest

Photo courtesy KBI.

Lizbeth Mateo, who is registered to attend Santa Clara Law School in California this fall, took part in a risky border protest on July 22 with other activists who had all been brought illegally to the U.S. as children. The protest started when Mateo and two others flew into Mexico and then tried to reenter the United States by crossing the border. Other immigrants and a large group of supporters, including Jesuit Father Sean Carroll, executive director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), which works on migration issues on the U.S.-Mexico border, joined them.

The young people, who call communities across the United States their home, presented themselves to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the at the Morley Gate in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. Fr. Carroll, along with three other staff members of KBI and other religious leaders, gathered near the border with the nine immigrants.

“I and other religious leaders accompanied them and went through the gate with them as part of the action. At the same time, there were people gathered on the U.S.  side of the border in support of the DREAMers and calling for an end to the deportations,” Fr. Carroll said.

The young men and women walked to the official pedestrian crossing point and requested humanitarian parole to rejoin their family members and communities within the United States.

Their request for humanitarian parole was denied, and Mateo and the other immigrants are now being held in Eloy, Ariz., while their case is considered. According to Fr. Carroll, it’s not clear how long they will be there, and he said they are planning to apply for asylum.

Mateo and other protesters say that those already expelled from the country have been lost in the current immigration debate. Deportations have increased from just under 300,000 in 2007 to nearly 400,000 in 2011, according to federal statistics.

“We should not forget the people who have been deported,” Mateo said.

Fr. Carroll said, “The protest has drawn attention to the effect of deportations on families and on young people. It causes separation of family members and it draws attention to the urgency to passing immigration reform that unites families and gives young immigrants the opportunity to realize their dreams. We’re asking that they be released to their families in the U.S.”

The three immigrants have put themselves at risk by returning to Mexico voluntarily, reports The Los Angeles Times. Under an immigration package backed by the Obama administration, young immigrants deported could apply to return to the U.S. Those who leave voluntarily would not have that option, immigration experts say.

According to the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, which organized the protest, some of the protesters, including Mateo, are now on a hunger strike until they are released.

Jesuit Father Michael Engh, president of Santa Clara University where Mateo plans to start law school in the fall, released a statement of support for the protesters, calling Mateo “one of our courageous incoming law students” and saying he had “contacted our local representatives requesting their assistance with this matter on behalf of our student.”

Earlier this month, 20 presidents of U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities signed a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives urging for comprehensive immigration reform as the country’s immigration system continues to separate families and “trap aspiring Americans in the shadows.” [The Los Angeles TimesKino Border Initiative]

Jesuit Protests Alabama’s Immigration Law

Jesuit Father Ted ArroyoJesuit Father Ted Arroyo said that protesting Alabama’s new immigration law isn’t an act of politics, it’s an act of faith.

“It’s challenging us to welcome the alien and show mercy to the stranger,” said Fr. Arroyo, rector of the Jesuit community at Spring Hill College, “because what we do for them we do for God.”

Arroyo spoke on August 27 to about 100 people gathered in Lyons Park in Mobile who sang, prayed and created signs expressing their distress with the bill approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley in June.

The law allows local police to detain people suspected of being in the United States illegally; requires public schools to inquire into immigration status of students; makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek work; and makes it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor an illegal immigrant.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Birmingham to block the bill’s implementation. The case is pending.

Arroyo told the crowd to find out stories of their ancestors’ and families’ immigrations to new places. He also urged people to volunteer to help new immigrants in their own communities.

“If you meet the immigrant and welcome the stranger, soon enough they will be strangers no more,” Arroyo said.

Visit for more on the protest.

California Jesuits Declare Solidarity with Migrants in Opposing Arizona SB 1070


Jesuit Father John McGarry, provincial of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, issued a letter on behalf of his province declaring that it stands “in solidarity with the migrants and their families in opposition to the enactment and implementation of Arizona SB 1070.”

In the letter, Fr. McGarry writes: “The enforcement of this law will unnecessarily divide otherwise peaceful communities along lines of racial difference and cultural suspicion, as U.S. citizens and legal residents with Latino backgrounds will likely be arrested. This law will needlessly and tragically lead to the separation of family members, in particular parents from their children.”

He goes on to say, “Most significantly, SB 1070 fails to address the concrete reality of our broken immigration system in the comprehensive, humane and just manner that the Church has been striving for in the Justice for Immigrants campaign.” The full letter is available online.

More Resources on SB 1070 and Comprehensive Immigration Reform from the California Province:
AZ State Legislature SB 1070 (AZ Legislature website)

“Bishops Challenge Arizona Law” (America magazine)

“Comprehensive Reform, Not Hostile Legislation, Is Necessary to Fix Broken Immigration
System,” by Fr. Sean O. Carroll, S.J., of the Kino Border Initiative (Jesuit Refugee
Service/USA website)

“Arizona Religious Leaders Call on Governor Brewer to Veto SB 1070” (Diocese of Phoenix

Statement of Bishop John C. Wester, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration (USCCB

“Arizona’s Dreadful Anti-Immigrant Law” by Cardinal Roger Mahony (from his blog)

The Justice for Immigrants Campaign to Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

“Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” A Pastoral Letter Concerning
Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States (2003, USCCB

“Comprehensive Immigration Reform: A Call to a Month of Prayer, Fasting, Action &
Advocacy in the California Province of the Society of Jesus, ” by Fr. John P. McGarry, S.J.
(January 27, 2006)

And You Welcomed Me: Migration and Catholic Social Teaching

AndYouWelcomedMeVideoAs men of faith, Jesuits believe in the inherent dignity of all human life. Informed by this belief, the Jesuit Conference of the United States has a duty to work for comprehensive immigration reform, keeping the plight of migrants in our country at the forefront of the nation’s conscience.

Thought leaders in the Catholic community recently came together to create a new book with the aim of reframing the migration discussion by focusing on the human beings at the heart of it. Edited by Jill Marie Gerschutz, Migration Policy Director of the Jesuit Conference and Donald Kerwin, Vice President for Programs at the Migration Policy Institute, the book, “And You Welcomed Me” provides a crucial underpinning to the complex phenomenon of migration from the perspectives of law, sociology, economics, international relations and theology. The book highlights the values of the common good, human dignity and authentic development.

Below is a video recently produced by the Jesuit Conference that discusses the book’s themes and issues:

Jesuit’s Documentary about Immigrant Youth Part of Larger Immigration Project

posadaPosada, an award-winning documentary film written, directed, and produced by Jesuit Father Mark McGregor is part of the Posadas Project, an initiative through which McGregor promotes education and advocacy for immigrants.  

Posada is McGregor’s response to the American bishops’ call for the Justice for Immigrants campaign. The documentary was inspired by Las Posadas, the annual Mexican Christmas celebration. Free viewings of the documentary, which focuses on the journeys of three boys and a mother who immigrate to the United States, have recently been shown in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

The film is available for purchase at and a trailer for the film can be viewed via the video below.