Advocate for Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees

As increasing numbers of people have come to the U.S.-Mexico border fleeing violence and insecurity in their home countries, the U.S. government has responded by restricting access to asylum through such policies as “turnback,” Remain in Mexico and family separation. A year after its implementation, Remain in Mexico has now expanded to U.S. ports of entry in Nogales, Arizona. Similarly, the expansion of the “safe third country rule” renders nearly all asylum seekers arriving at the southern border ineligible even to make a claim for asylum in this country, unless they have already gone through the process of applying for asylum in another country, such as Mexico or Guatemala. This policy is cause for significant concern. Both of these countries lack the capacity to process large numbers of asylum claims, or to ensure the safety of migrants who are seeking protection.

Pope Francis asks us instead to “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” those seeking refuge in our country, including migrants and asylum seekers. (Message for the 2018 World Day of Migrants and Refugees). Committed by our faith to the inherent dignity of every human being, please join us in calling on all members of Congress to put an end to these unreasonable barriers being put in the way of asylum seekers.

The Message to Congress:

Dear Senator [NAME] / Representative [NAME],

As a person of faith, I believe in the inherent dignity of every human being, including those seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. It is not a crime to seek asylum.

Instead of following Pope Francis’ plea that we “welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” migrants and asylum seekers, the U.S. government has placed new barriers in their way. Under the new asylum eligibility policy, most people fleeing violence and persecution and arriving at the southern border will not even be permitted to present their claims for asylum. With the “turnback” (also known as “metering”) and Remain in Mexico policies, asylum seekers are made to wait long periods of time in Mexico, facing harm and insecurity. Of those permitted to remain in the U.S. while their claims are being considered, many individuals and families, including children, are kept in detention, often in inhumane conditions.

We must put an end to these unreasonable barriers to people’s ability to seek asylum in our country.

In light of these grave realities facing asylum seekers, I call on you to:

  • Pass legislation ensuring that all those arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border with a credible fear of returning to their homeland are offered a legitimate opportunity to present their claim for asylum, regardless of whether they have pursued an asylum claim in another country;
  • Ensure that those seeking asylum can present themselves at the U.S.-Mexico border without delays related to turnbacks that leave them in harm’s way in Mexico;
  • Support the Asylum Seeker Protection Act, H.R. 2662, which would defund the “Remain in Mexico” policy and allow asylum seekers the opportunity to wait in safety in the U.S. during the adjudication of their asylum claims;
  • Pass legislation requiring the Department of Homeland Security to restore and expand the Family Case Management Program, which was terminated in 2017, and which allowed those seeking protection to pursue their claims from within the United States, free from detention, and with the support of their families, churches, and communities, while also achieving high levels of compliance with US law;
  • Continue to work for humane comprehensive immigration reform legislation that fully affirms the inherent dignity of all those who migrate to our country.
  • I join fellow members of the U.S. Jesuit and Ignatian networks in asking that you act to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate those fleeing violence and insecurity in their home countries to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    Thank you.


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