Pope Francis’ surprise call thanks sister for immigration ministry

She was bombarded with high-fives and hugs after she got the call — an invitation to meet Pope Francis during his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States. But Sr. Norma Pimentel's biggest surprise came Monday, when the pope singled her out during a satellite video feed. Pimentel was present at a teleconference hosted at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen, Texas, where she coordinates ministries and services for immigrants. The pope's teleconference was recorded for ABC's "20/20" show, which airs Sept. 4. and includes participants in Los Angeles and Chicago.

In latest justice resolution, U.S. sisters recommit to ending family detention

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious membership on Friday morning voted to adopt a resolution that commits member congregations to addressing systemic causes of injustice. While the resolution itself is broad, the focus of the resolution presentation, unquestionably, was immigration and the detention of women and children seeking asylum.

Immigrant respite center responds to sudden increase

Released with nowhere to go, dozens of undocumented immigrants flooded a church respite center in McAllen, Texas, after the Border Patrol set them free without bus tickets in July. The facility added an extra tent to accommodate the numbers. “We have had upwards of 60 to 65 people spending the night over the last few weeks,” said Deb Boyce, volunteer group coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. “Our numbers have almost doubled because they were being released without bus tickets. They had to stay overnight.”

Young sisters and brothers on the road

Most attention by national news organizations has focused on the detention of immigrant children within the U.S. and the religious congregations and organizations that have offered to provide for their needs in lieu of detention. Like the villagers in the parable, at this meeting and another just across the border in Juarez, Mexico, we began to explore what is happening further upstream and how to respond. Hermanos en el Camino, a refuge for undocumented Central American immigrants in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, was founded by Fr. Alejandro Solalinde in 2007. Over the years thousands of refugees have passed through the shelter which is located along the tracks that the train known as “La Bestia” traverses to the north.

Supportive community-based programs mean greater success for asylum-seekers

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are increasingly using practices described as alternatives to keep tabs on immigrants released from the agency’s detention facilities – like using electronic monitoring devices and doing telephone check-ins. Meanwhile, non-profit and faith-based organizations around the country have cobbled together various programs for asylum-seekers, whether from Central America or overseas. The need for these alternatives is increasing, as federal officials recently announced plans to end the long-term detention of most migrant families. Court action is expected any day that could lead to the release of most or all mothers and children in ICE’s three family detention centers.

Sisters join call to end family detention

GSR Today - Faith leaders met with White House staff May 21 and presented a letter signed by nearly 1,500 faith leaders from across the country. Among those in the meeting were Sr. Patricia McDermott, president of the Sister of Mercy of the Americas, Lawrence Couch, Director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, and Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki, President of the Jesuit Conference of the United States and Canada.