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.

Mother's Day at Nazareth

I received an email request for volunteers on the Friday afternoon before Mother’s Day from Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House for immigrants and refugees in El Paso, Texas. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had detained 40-some mothers and fathers with children whom they would be processing for release on Sunday, May 10. They contacted Ruben to ask if they could bring them to Nazareth. Ever since last summer a vacant section of the Sisters of Loretto Nazareth Hall nursing home has provided temporary shelter to a small but steady number of refugees, mostly from Central America and certain parts of Mexico hit hard by drug cartel violence.

Hospitality houses offer works of mercy to immigrants in limbo

The House for Men and a House for Families at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago’s Hyde Park opened May 1, 2014. Each is now home to about a dozen people either waiting for final permission to stay in the United States or who do have permission and are learning how to live here – getting training or going to school, finding jobs and saving money for somewhere to live. They are a ministry of Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants, which was formed in 2007 by two Sisters of Mercy, Sr. JoAnn Persch and Sr. Pat Murphy.

Judge tentatively rules against restrictive detention facilities for immigrant families

The Obama administration's policy of detaining women and children seeking asylum in the U.S. could soon end after a federal judge tentatively ruled that the practice violates a previous court settlement, according to attorneys representing plaintiffs in the case. Issued April 24 by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in California, the proposed ruling says that the detention policy violates the 1997 Flores v. Meese Settlement Agreement, which states that unaccompanied minors cannot be placed in restrictive lockdown facilities. Attorneys representing both sides have 30 days to reach an agreement on how to wind down family detention, according to two memos obtained by NCR.

Living like prisoners: Women talk about U.S. detention centers

Some 183 women and children seeking asylum are held at the Karnes County Residential Center, one of two family detention centers in south Texas operated by companies under contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their plight is drawing increasing attention, fueled on the inside by a hunger strike and fast, and, on the outside, by legal jockeying and a recent visit by the head of ICE. At the heart of the matter are complaints of lengthy stays in prison-like conditions, as well as a question repeatedly posed by activists, attorneys and faith-based organizations.