As servants of Christ’s Mission, the Jesuit Conference Secretariat for Social and International Ministries (SIM) supports members of the Society of Jesus and the Ignatian family in their social justice concerns, empowering them to act upon those concerns by coordination and education.
The secretariat advocates on behalf of the voiceless on matters of social concern before government and corporate institutions. It also represents the U.S. Assistancy internationally. Our office seeks to fulfill its mission for the Jesuit Provincials of the United States in collaboration with the 28 Jesuit Colleges and Universities, more than 60 high schools and middle schools, 80 parishes and 28 retreat houses, in addition to individual social ministry efforts.
Here are some statements and reports on our advocacy priority areas.
Blumenthal 8 and Coons 13 Letter– The Senate Judiciary Committee is in the process of making changes to S.744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. Many of the amendments offered and approved are aimed at protecting migrants due process and human rights, ensuring the path to citizenship is accessible, and ensure that priority is given to family unity in future immigration enforcement activities. One concern, however, is that immigration and enforcement authorities might continue to engage in enforcement activities at places of worship, schools, and hospitals. Such actions fly in the face of our Nations’ long history of freedom of religion and civic engagement. The Jesuit Conference and JRS/USA have signed on, along with 100 other national, state, and local religious, education, and health organizations, in support of two amendments, Blumenthal 8 and Coons 13, that would curtail such actions unless absolutely necessary.
On May 15th, the U.S. Jesuit Provincials signed letters in support of comprehensive immigration reform that were sent to U.S. elected officials. This letter, based on a letter the Provincials sent to Congress and the Administration in 2010, calls for a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants as well as a legal employment structure protecting both migrants and U.S. workers, expedited family reunification and an end to policies that exacerbate family separation. Over 200 Jesuit institutions, communities, and affiliated ministries have signed on with the Provincials as well.
On April 10th, Fr. Sean Carroll, SJ, the Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative will testify before Congress in an ad hoc hearing titled “Lines that Divide US: Failure to Preseve Family Unity in the Context of Immigration Enforcement at the Border.” Fr. Carroll will discuss some of the findings from “Documented Failures: The Consequences of Immigration Policy on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” our recent joint report with JRS/USA and the Kino Border Initiative. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) will serve as the Chair of the event, which will include other members of Congress. Read Rep. Grijalva’s invitation to the hearing here.
“Documented Failures: The Consequences of Immigration Policy on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” a joint report of the Kino Border Initiative, Jesuit Conference, and JRS/USA was released on February 13, 2013. The report based on a survey of deported Central American and Mexican migrants examines the role current immigration policy plays in family separation and abuse of migrants. Unfortunatley, the study reveals that nearly 25% of migrants suffered abuse at the hands of U.S Customs and Border Patrol and over one third (35.6%) of women and and one in five (22.7%) of men were separated from family members during apprehension, detention, and/or deporation. The full report can be found here. The excutive summary of the report can be found here.
On April 20, 2013, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and hosted two briefings (one in the House and one in the Senate) on the case for immigration reform from the perspective of Catholic Social Teaching. Santa Clara University Professor and theologian Dr. Kristin E. Heyer was among the panelists. Dr. Heyer highlighted that ”…the voices of desperate migrants rarely register in debates about border control triggers or visa quotas…. If maximizing profit or fear of the outsider remains the dominant script, the Catholic tradition’s commitments shape a different story, a (counter)narrative of our common humanity, with implications for just immigration reform. Christian commitments regarding what it means to be human profoundly critique prevailing immigration frameworks.” Read her full remarks here.
Jesuit Conference Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee– The U.S. Jesuit Conference has released this statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. In it, we affirm that any immigration reform bill must offer a clear path to citizenship that is not contingent upon the vague notion of “border security,” respect for the due process rigths of migrants, and effective accountability of immigration enforcement agencies like Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The full statement can be found here.
U.S. Jesuit Provincials Letter to Congress on Comprehensive Immigration Reform– 2013 will hopefully be the year for compassionate and just immigration reform. The letter the Provinicals wrote in 2010 is as relevant to the debate today as it was over two years ago. The 11 million undocumented Americans deserve a path to legalization that guarantees their full rights and border policies that respect family unity. Read more of the Provincials’ Letter here.
Jesuit Conference and JRS/USA Letter to Customs and Border Patrol on Human Rights –This effort is spurred by the slaying of a 16-year-old Mexican teenager Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez on October 10, 2012 by U.S. Border Patrol agent(s) who apparently fired through the fence into Nogales, Mexico in response to “rock-throwing.” The letter, drafterd by the Jesuit Conference and JRS/USA with extensive input from the KINO Border Initiative, is an effort to encourage greater transparency and dialogue on the part of CBP and DHS in light of a to a pattern of deadly confrontations that have resulted in the deaths of at least 15 Mexican civilians along the border since 2010 (including two minors).
“The Choices We Face: a Federabl Budget and Tax Debate Guide for Jesuit Ministries”– The Jesuit Conference and the PICO National Network collaborated on this primer for the members of our network interested in how federal budgetary and tax policy affects the most vulnerable in our society. As people of faith, we must remember that difficult economic times call for shared sacrifices by all, but especially those who can afford more. The budget and tax guide can be found here.
Jesuit Conference Statement on Taxes and the Fiscal Cliff — The U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration are working to agree to a deal that would avert the so-called fiscal cliff, the convergence of an estimated $1.2 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts over the course of the next decade that threaten to trigger another recession. As policymakers weigh their respective positions, the Jesuit Conference of the United States asks all those involved in this critical debate to remember the many Americans standing at the edge of this cliff.
A Response to the U.S. Census Bureau Report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage –On September 12, 2012, the Census Bureau released its report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage for the calendar year 2011. This new data reveals the percentage of Americans living under the poverty line, defined by the Census Bureau as household income under $23,000 for a family of four, has remained at 15% for the last two years, the highest in two decades.