|"The SAFE Act undermines our nation’s legal obligations to refugees and would cause unnecessary hardship for those who seek and those who have already proved they are legitimate refugees and have received protection in the United States."|
(Washington, D.C.) February 11, 2015 — In a letter to Congress, the Jesuits of the United States declared their opposition to anti-immigrant amendments in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. In their letter, the Jesuits note "Jesuit organizations throughout our country have long advocated for comprehensive, humane, and much needed solutions to our current broken immigration system."
The Jesuit Conference noted their opposition to the "Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act (SAFE Act) introduced last year. Such legislation has been widely rejected by faith-based organizations (as well as many local law enforcement agencies), for its increased and inappropriate criminalization of immigrants as well as service providers, including clergy. The SAFE Act additionally expands immigration detention; promotes an immigration enforcement role for state and local law enforcement officials, (who are neither trained nor generally supportive of such a role), and decreases basic protection for immigrants."
Today, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Diocese of Tuscon is scheduled to be one of the witnesses testifying before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security as they discuss the the SAFE Act.
In a statement echoing the concerns of the Jesuit Conference, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and other secular and faith organizations said, "the SAFE Act would negatively impact individuals fleeing persecution, including refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people. This legislation worsens expansive laws targeting terrorism that instead have consequences for refugees and asylees. It expands our immigration detention system that currently holds many torture survivors, asylum seekers, and others seeking protection in the United States from persecution in their home countries. Finally, it unwisely delegates the enforcement of our national immigration laws to state and local law enforcement agencies despite demonstrated instances of profiling and subsequent weakening of community safety."
Ahead of today's hearing, JRS/USA joined Church World Service, The Episcopal Church, HIAS, International Rescue Committee, Jubilee Campaign USA, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Women's Refugee Commission and World Relief in submitting the statement to the Committee on the Judiciary.
The statement, which can be read in full here, concludes "The SAFE Act undermines our nation’s legal obligations to refugees and would cause unnecessary hardship for those who seek and those who have already proved they are legitimate refugees and have received protection in the United States."
Migration to and Asylum in the United States