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Family Separations Highlight Broken U.S. Immigration System
July 11, 2012

Family Separations Highlight Broken U.S. Immigration System
JRS/USA — through our work advocating for humane and comprehensive reform to the U.S. immigration system, as well as our programmatic efforts in U.S. immigration detention centers, caring for the spiritual and pastoral needs of migrants, and our support of the work of the Kino Border Initiative’s shelter and cafeteria for deported migrants in Nogales, Mexico — seeks to bring Biblical teachings into practice. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
The briefing helped us to appreciate the mission of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA on a more personal level, and why in 2003, when outlining five apostolic preferences for the world-wide the Society of Jesus, Very Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. — then the Superior General of the Jesuits — mandated that in addition to directly serving refugees Jesuits should "…come to the aid of the numerous migrants, according to their manifest needs on the various continents."
By Chris Ridmann and Michael Garcia
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

(Washington, D.C.) July 11, 2012 — On June 28th, 2012, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC), of which Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a member, held a congressional briefing on U.S. immigration policy and its effect on American families. The IIC is working to bring awareness to the simple yet controversial fact that our immigration system has separated numerous hard working families.

The briefing not only brought to light current immigration policy but sought to put a human face on a debate too often detached from the realities lived by many American families. David Leopold, the founder and principal attorney of David Wolfe Leopold & Associates, noted that the number of undocumented migrants residing in the U.S. should be viewed as symptomatic of the continued broken nature of our country’s immigration system.

As a testament to these problems, the IIC invited four young men and women to share their own account of how current U.S. immigration policy has directly affected their lives. These young people represent the nearly 4.5 million U.S.-citizen children of families of mixed-immigration status.

• One woman spoke of the ongoing heartbreak she has experienced after the deportation of her mother 10 years ago. At the age of eight, she was separated from her mother and has not seen her since.

• Another woman spoke of the anxiety generated as her parents face deportation despite their heroic struggle to raise and provide for a Downs Syndrome child while successfully operating a family business for 27 years.

These poignant accounts elucidated the significance of these policy decisions and spoke to us as students of Catholic Social Teaching. Our Catholic faith is deeply rooted in the experience of migration. The Bible emphasizes that there is a moral imperative to treat with compassion and dignity those who seem most different from us: "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt." (Leviticus 19:33-34)  

The briefing helped us to appreciate the mission of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA on a more personal level, and why in 2003, when outlining five apostolic preferences for the world-wide Society of Jesus, Very Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. — then the Superior General of the Jesuits — mandated that in addition to directly serving refugees Jesuits should "…come to the aid of the numerous migrants, according to their manifest needs on the various continents."

JRS/USA — through our work advocating for humane and comprehensive reform to the U.S. immigration system, as well as our programmatic efforts in U.S. immigration detention centers, caring for the spiritual and pastoral needs of migrants, and our support of the work of the Kino Border Initiative’s shelter and cafeteria for deported migrants in Nogales, Mexico — seeks to bring Biblical teachings into practice.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA interns Chris Ridmann and Michael Garcia are current participants in the “Six Weeks a Jesuit” program, designed for men who are actively discerning a vocation in the Society of Jesus.

Chris Ridmann is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in Computer Science. He is currently interning with Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, developing a secondary education curriculum to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis of refugees.

Michael Garcia is a graduate of Santa Clara University with degrees in political science and anthropology. He is currently interning with Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, conducting research in faith-based humanitarian relief efforts.


Kino Border Initiative

Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946