Immigration and the Church

Mexican American Catholic College hosts immigration conference


Immigration Symposium, Oct. 19-20, 2011, San Antonio, Texas.

The office of Continuing Education for Ministry at MACC -- Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas, is holding an important immigration symposium October 19-20 with the title "Violence on the Border: Consequences and Pastoral Responses"

Bishop Daniel Flores, diocese of Brownsville, Texas, will deliver the keynote. Discussion topics include:


  • How are communities of faith responding?

  • What needs to be done to bring peace to the border?

  • The Relationship between violence and immigration.


For more information or to download the program and registration forms:

Sanctuary movement, stays of removal and deportation


The Arizona Daily Star reports on one immigrant's case and refers to stays of removal and to the sanctuary movement that occurred years ago in Tucson:


The Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church came within a wisp last week of becoming Tucson's first sanctuary church in two decades


Rev. Bill Remmel and the west Tucson church offered shelter to Alfonso Morales-Macias, a 41-year-old father of two facing deportation.

Ultimately, it doesn't appear Morales-Macias and his family will need sanctuary because Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials changed course and are now expected to approve a stay of removal for him, said his attorney, Margo Cowan. That would allow him to stay for one more year - putting him one step closer to being able to apply for legal residency when his U.S.-born daughter turns 21 in September 2013.

Law taking toll on crops, families, say critics

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Farmers are reporting their fruit and vegetable pickers have fled, leaving crops to rot in the field, and principals say many students have withdrawn from school as even legal U.S. residents flee Alabama after a harsh new immigration law took effect in late September.

Federal District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn Sept. 28 lifted a temporary stay on the law, allowing most of its provisions to take effect. That includes a requirement that public schools inform the state and federal governments about which students cannot provide proof of legal residency in the U.S., and other provisions mandating that police check the papers of anyone they think might not be legal residents.

Within days, schools reported many children had stopped coming to school. Farmers said they immediately lost many of the workers they had lined up to pick their crops, even those who are U.S. citizens or who have permission to work here.

Catholic teaching, immigrants and US policy: Oct. 27


Upcoming event at Seton Hall University:

The Center for Catholic Studies and the Micah Institute for Business and Economics’ Fall 2011 Lecture, entitled And You Welcomed Me: Catholic Teaching, Immigrants and US Immigration Policy, will be presented October 27 at 5:30 p.m. in the Helen Lerner Amphitheatre in McNulty Hall at Seton Hall University. All are welcome to attend, and the event is free of charge.

The lecture and discussion will be presented by Donald Kerwin, Executive Director of the Center for Migration Studies, and Jill Gerschutz-Bell, Senior Legislative Specialist for Washington, D.C.’s Catholic Relief Services, who co-authored And You Welcomed Me: Migration and Catholic Social Teaching (Lexington Press, 2009), as well as Fr. Jack Martin of the Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast.

Click here for more information about the lecture.

Speaking at the event is Jill Gerschutz-Bell, who will also speak at
Celebration's upcoming Eucharist Without Borders conference in April 2012.

Across borders that divide us



I just returned from eight weeks in Cuernavaca, a paradise just south of Mexico City, famous for its weather, its year-round profusion of flowers and its historic role as a portal for thousands of missionaries and college students on their way to Central America.

I lived with a host family and took Spanish classes at the school founded by Ivan Illich, the influential social critic of the 1960s and ’70s. I went south to immerse myself in a river of language flowing north to water the life and culture of the United States, including the church, now nearing 40 percent Latino membership. I went to Mexico to understand the complex forces driving migration and to find out whether the one baptism and Communion shared by Christians everywhere are stronger than the many borders that divide us. I went in search of the face of Jesus, the stranger who always reveals the future. I came home stuttering beginner’s Spanish (though my wife says I speak it fluently in my sleep) and eager to continue the journey.

Churches lose fight over Ala. immigration law


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- A federal judge jolted the national immigration debate on Sept. 28 by approving most parts of Alabama’s aggressive immigration law that religious leaders had called the “meanest” in the nation.

In a ruling hailed by many state officials, U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn refused to block much of Alabama’s far-reaching immigration law from going into effect.

Blackburn’s decision came after three separate challenges were filed by the U.S. Department of Justice; Catholic, Episcopal and United Methodist bishops; and a coalition of civil rights groups, unions and individuals who said they would be harmed by the law.

The Justice Department argued that immigration law enforcement rests with the federal government, and that states could not set up their own systems. Blackburn disagreed, saying Alabama’s efforts mirrored the federal government’s or were complementary.

Plaintiffs, led by the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, said they will seek an emergency delay of Blackburn’s order pending an appeal to the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Deportee ministers to migrants with grace, humility



NOGALES, Mexico -- On a recent Sunday morning, roughly 30 people squeezed into the Nogales living room of Adan Magdariaga. All were present for the house church service intended to bring together regular worshippers, recently arrived migrants, and humanitarian aid workers with whom Magdariaga has become friends.

Magdariaga was deported from the U.S. in January, following two years of detention in the Eloy Immigration Detention Center, a private prison-like facility run by the Corrections Corporation of America. He had been presented with the option of staying in that facility to continue fighting his immigration removal case, or to accept a deportation and work on the case from Mexico.

His decision found him returning to Mexico, a homeland he had not known since 1975, when he migrated to the United States as a teenager. Upon leaving the detention facility, he carried nothing but a few dollars in his pocket and the clear, plastic bag that held his belongings.

Catholic official among opponents of Penn. immigration bills


PHILADELPHIA -- A series of bills introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature this session as the "National Security Begins at Home Legislative Package" could harm citizens and legal permanent residents as well as undocumented immigrants, a Catholic official told legislators.

"Every human possesses inherent dignity, regardless of his or her immigration status," said Mark Shea, administrator of the immigration program of Philadelphia archdiocesan Catholic Social Services, at a hearing of the Committee on State Government of the House of Representatives Aug. 31 in Harrisburg.

He was testifying on behalf of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops.

One proposed bill, H.B. 738, would make it a misdemeanor for a "person who is unlawfully present in the United States to knowingly apply for work, solicit work in a public place or perform work as an employee or independent contractor" in Pennsylvania.

New Ala. immigration law treading on religious freedom, bishop says


A federal judge issued a temporary hold Aug. 29 on Alabama's new immigration law, saying she needed more time to address the challenges to the law.

The hold from U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn will last until Sept. 29 or until the court issues a ruling on the motions to block the law, the news site Politico reported.

The law, which was supposed to go into effect Sept. 1, would make it illegal for anyone to knowingly employ a person who is not a citizen and lacks the proper papers, as well as outlining other requirements of identification and documentation, including requiring schools to check citizenship status of students.

In June, Alabama passed the law, which opponents and proponents call one of the toughest and broadest immigration laws in the country. Four religious leaders have joined together and filed a lawsuit against the statute.

"This statute is so broadly written that it interferes with the freedom of the church," said Mobile, Ala., Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi, on why he filed a lawsuit against the statute with three other bishops.


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