What is an immigrant to do now that Donald Trump has been elected? While well-meaning people encourage us to think positively or wait it out, many among us don't have that luxury. The new administration is poised to directly and significantly alter the lives of certain groups of people. My fellow Guatemalan parishioners are in that group, and they're deeply troubled.
Now known for its swift immigration response to the Syrian refugee crisis, Canada accepts more Syrian refugees than any other country. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reported that the country welcomed more than 33,000 Syrian refugees between November 4, 2015, and mid-October 2016. Catholics across Canada sprang to action to help the refugees, like Ursulines of Jesus in Chatham, and Jesuit-run parishes in St. John's, Halifax, Toronto, Guelph and Winnepeg.
Presentation Sr. Cecilia Suwannee Phetpanomporn's vocation took her from Thailand to Australia and back home again, where she now ministers to Karen refugees on the border with Burma.
Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, serves as a way station for those just released from Border Patrol processing centers. As the center reaches 200-plus visitors a day, Catholic Charities director Sr. Norma Pimental looks toward expansion.
From The Field Hospital: Sisters' welcome center in Philadelphia teaches newcomers English, guides them through the byzantine naturalization process, and forms 'a real community.'
Sister Priscilla and I would be two of six Giving Voice sisters at the Border Convergence where we'd lead an Encuentro de Hermanas for other Catholic sisters and their associates. Throughout the same weekend dozens of other Giving Voice sisters would be leading solidarity prayer services in places as varied as North Dakota, California, Iowa and Texas.
This year, the annual SOA Watch protest took place at the border instead of at the school the group has protested for the last 27 years. The group still aims to draw attention to what used to be called the School of the Americas, but the 2016 gathering also focused on increased militarization of the border. "Different issue, but same shame," one protestor said.
GSR Today - "We must educate ourselves on the root causes of immigration ... and [join] with others who share the same values," one sister said.
A country where 8 out of 10 people live in poverty, Haiti does not have the resources to help repatriate its citizens deported from neighboring Dominican Republic, where work can be found. Even for citizens of the DR who are of Hatian descent, deportation occurs due to racist attitudes. The U.N. refugee agency is not working here, but Jesuit Refugee Services — and sisters — are.
GSR Today - The Department of Justice announced in August it would stop using private contractors to house federal prisoners. Then the Department of Homeland Security announced it would examine its use of private contractors to hold detained immigrants. But don't think that private prisons are going away anytime soon.
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