Praying with Refugees del Jesuit Refugee Services

United States: immigration reform needed to end suffering, redeem the nation
20 March 2014

The border fence in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (JRS)
Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap—allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk.

Washington DC, 20 March 2014 – The US Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, USA from 30 March to April to tour the US-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the US desert since 1998.

The purpose of the trip is to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system in the United States, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored.

"Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap – allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk", said Mary Small, Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service USA.

Small advocated for humane immigration reform March 18 during a meeting with Obama Administration officials at the White House.

"What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration— that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issues", said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

"Those who have died – and those deported each day – have the same value and innate God – given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths".

The bishops’ trip follows the example of Pope Francis, who, in his first trip outside of Rome, travelled to the Italian island of Lampedusa to remember African migrants who died attempting to reach Europe. During that trip, Pope Francis spoke about the "globalization of indifference" toward migrants and decried the "throwaway culture" that disposes of human beings in the pursuit of wealth.

"The US-Mexico border is our Lampedusa. Migrants in this hemisphere try to reach it, but often die in the attempt", said Bishop Elizondo.

"We join the bishops in calling and praying for a system that instead recognizes and cherishes the value of each human life. Pope Francis has called us to reject this kind of throwaway culture; we demand that our lawmakers do the same", said Small.

"We exhibit our own indifference when we minimize or ignore this suffering and death, as if these people are not worth our attention. It degrades us as a nation", said Bishop Elizondo.

The bishops on the USCCB Committee on Migration will be joined by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and several border bishops. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson will host the delegation.

"Hopefully by highlighting the harsh impact the system has on our fellow human beings, our elected officials will be moved to reform it", Bishop Elizondo said. – See more at: http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20140320033029#sthash.t9448eEp.dpuf

Praying with Refugees: accompanying people in detention
Italy: government fails to protect refugees and asylum seekers
08 April 2014

Presentation of the Jesuit Refugee Service Italy 2013 annual report, highlighting the failure of government policy to protect refugees, Rome, Italy (Patrick Keaveny/JRS)
Planning could help us save resources. Instead we blame the ill, the poor. This change of ideas about welfare is part of a culture of waste.

Rome, 8 April 2014 – The economic crisis in Italy has hit refugees in a particularly harsh manner. Even those who were well on the road to becoming self-sufficient have been forced to seek assistance, according the annual report by the Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy (Centro Astalli).

In 2013 Centro Astalli provided a range of health, education, housing and legal services to more than 37,000 asylum seekers and refugees in the cities of Catania, Palermo, Rome and Trento. In addition, the 46 staff and more than 480 volunteers visited schools explaining the situation of refugees to more than 18,000 students.

Speaking at the presentation of the report in the centre of Rome, Centro Astalli Director, Giovanni La Manna, urged the government to stop treating the arrival of asylum seekers as an emergency and plan long-term responses, not based on charity but on justice in line with Italy’s international human rights obligations. Italy needs, Fr La Manna continued, a single unified asylum system capable of meeting the needs of asylum seekers.

With an increase of 65 percent in the number of asylum applications in Italy to 26,000 in 2013, Centro Astalli Programme Manager, Berardino Guarino, described the consequences of mental health programmes, homelessness and unemployment on refugees. According to Guarino, if one looks at the numbers of asylum seekers in the last few years, it is clear that such fluctuations could be managed if a more planned approach were taken by the authorities.

This failure, Guarino continued, has been highlighted again and again. In January last year, two Somali men who after surviving a danger journey to what they thought would be the safety of Europe, died in a fire they had made to keep themselves warm on the streets of Rome. Some European courts have ruled that sending asylum seekers to Italy violated their rights to protection from inhuman and degrading treatment.

"Planning could help us save resources. Instead we blame the ill, the poor. This change of ideas about welfare is part of a culture of waste", said Mr Guarino.

Hospitality. Mr Guarino highlighted the visit of the Pope to Lampedusa island and the JRS soup kitchen as highlights of 2013. He gave meaning to the idea of a ‘culture of encounter’.

Rather than be feared, asylum seekers should be seen as heroes, Fr La Manna said, ready to accept the consequences of defending their political and religious beliefs. Italians should not be frightened by numbers, but interested in people.

In this sense, the launch of the annual report is an opportunity to give a voice to those who face indifference, the victims of injustice. In calling on the international community to do more to end the bloodshed in Syria, Fr La Manna spoke of the significance of the work of Frans van der Lugt SJ and how up to the moment of his death he remained faithful to the people of Homs. In contrast, politicians seem unable to speak out in favour of refugees for fear of losing consensus.

In thanking all those involved in the work of Centro Astalli, Fr La Manna gave a special thanks to the religious congregations which responded to the call of Pope Francis last September and opened their door to homeless refugees and asylum seekers.

"What would our city be like if everyone welcomed in one refugee?" Fr La Manna asked.

The event ended with a few words by Vatican spokesperson, Federico Lombardi SJ and the Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino.

Although Pope Francis has a special interest in the reality of refugees, said Fr Lombardi, this attention should also be seen as a continuation of the work of previous pontiffs.
– See more at: http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20140408094303#sthash.FN4ZdYtI.dpufPraying with Refugees: accompanying people in detention

01 April 2014

USA_2013_0913_CFUCHS_285_big1.jpg
Fr Richard Sotelo SJ greets detainees while celebrating Mass with them at the Service Processing Centre for detained undocumented immigrants in El Paso, Texas. (Christian Fuchs / Jesuit Refugee Service USA)
The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him.

Washington DC, 1 April 2014 — In the United States and many other countries, Jesuit Refugee Service actively works to assist refugees and asylum seekers in detention. The use of detention to discourage, control and punish asylum seekers has increased worldwide during the past decade. Each year in the US, some 15,000 people seeking asylum are held in detention.

JRS aspires to be hospitality in action. We walk alongside, accompany and offer hospitality to those "at the frontiers of humanity". While most visibly doing this in direct service to refugees in camps, we also walk alongside refugees in urban areas and alongside people in detention.

Jesuit Refugee Service USA chaplaincy programmes provide pastoral and religious assistance to meet the needs of non-citizens detained in three US federal detention centres; and we’ve created a guide for chaplains and volunteers in centres around the country. These programmes enable people of all faiths to have access to pastoral care within their faith tradition.

In calling for an authentic culture of encounter, Pope Francis writes: "The Good Samaritan not only draws nearer to the man he finds half dead on the side of the road; he takes responsibility for him. Jesus shifts our understanding: it is not just about seeing the other as someone like myself, but of the ability to make myself like the other … we are all human beings, children of God".

Reflections for prayer


Jesuit Father Richard Sotelo is the Religious Services Coordinator at the Service Processing Centre in El Paso, Texas. Fr Sotelo has been the facility’s chaplain since 1999.

"Why I stay, what (the relationship I have with) the staff, the detainees, what I bring to my ministry outside of the centre, in the parishes I serve and the people I serve outside… it is I think the fundamental religious contribution of Jesuit Refugee Service to the life of the Society of Jesus, and can be summed up in one word: accompaniment".

"That’s really what I do as members of Jesuit Refugee Service … accompany people in their journey. The amazing thing about that… is that in accompanying them they accompany me; so it becomes this very mutual human relationship", Fr. Sotelo said.

"Today is a bittersweet day", Fr. Sotelo continued, "A detainee who has been here for two and a half years is leaving, and he is not being reunited with his family but being returned to his home country. Over the last two and a half years I have walked the journey of faith with him; I think as we said goodbye today he was more consoling to me that I was to him".

Pope Francis said, "A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive". In accompanying refugees, asylum seekers and detainees, we at JRS receive their grace.

United States: immigration reform needed to end suffering, redeem the nation
20 March 2014

The border fence in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (JRS)
Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap—allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk.

Washington DC, 20 March 2014 – The US Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, USA from 30 March to April to tour the US-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the US desert since 1998.

The purpose of the trip is to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system in the United States, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored.

"Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap – allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk", said Mary Small, Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service USA.

Small advocated for humane immigration reform March 18 during a meeting with Obama Administration officials at the White House.

"What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration— that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issues", said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

"Those who have died – and those deported each day – have the same value and innate God – given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths".

The bishops’ trip follows the example of Pope Francis, who, in his first trip outside of Rome, travelled to the Italian island of Lampedusa to remember African migrants who died attempting to reach Europe. During that trip, Pope Francis spoke about the "globalization of indifference" toward migrants and decried the "throwaway culture" that disposes of human beings in the pursuit of wealth.

"The US-Mexico border is our Lampedusa. Migrants in this hemisphere try to reach it, but often die in the attempt", said Bishop Elizondo.

"We join the bishops in calling and praying for a system that instead recognizes and cherishes the value of each human life. Pope Francis has called us to reject this kind of throwaway culture; we demand that our lawmakers do the same", said Small.

"We exhibit our own indifference when we minimize or ignore this suffering and death, as if these people are not worth our attention. It degrades us as a nation", said Bishop Elizondo.

The bishops on the USCCB Committee on Migration will be joined by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and several border bishops. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson will host the delegation.

"Hopefully by highlighting the harsh impact the system has on our fellow human beings, our elected officials will be moved to reform it", Bishop Elizondo said. – See more at: http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20140320033029#sthash.t9448eEp.dpuf

United States: immigration reform needed to end suffering, redeem the nation
20 March 2014

The border fence in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (JRS)
Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap—allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk.

Washington DC, 20 March 2014 – The US Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, USA from 30 March to April to tour the US-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the US desert since 1998.

The purpose of the trip is to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system in the United States, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored.

"Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap – allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk", said Mary Small, Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service USA.

Small advocated for humane immigration reform March 18 during a meeting with Obama Administration officials at the White House.

"What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration— that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issues", said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

"Those who have died – and those deported each day – have the same value and innate God – given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths".

The bishops’ trip follows the example of Pope Francis, who, in his first trip outside of Rome, travelled to the Italian island of Lampedusa to remember African migrants who died attempting to reach Europe. During that trip, Pope Francis spoke about the "globalization of indifference" toward migrants and decried the "throwaway culture" that disposes of human beings in the pursuit of wealth.

"The US-Mexico border is our Lampedusa. Migrants in this hemisphere try to reach it, but often die in the attempt", said Bishop Elizondo.

"We join the bishops in calling and praying for a system that instead recognizes and cherishes the value of each human life. Pope Francis has called us to reject this kind of throwaway culture; we demand that our lawmakers do the same", said Small.

"We exhibit our own indifference when we minimize or ignore this suffering and death, as if these people are not worth our attention. It degrades us as a nation", said Bishop Elizondo.

The bishops on the USCCB Committee on Migration will be joined by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and several border bishops. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson will host the delegation.

"Hopefully by highlighting the harsh impact the system has on our fellow human beings, our elected officials will be moved to reform it", Bishop Elizondo said. – See more at: http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20140320033029#sthash.t9448eEp.dpuf

United States: immigration reform needed to end suffering, redeem the nation
20 March 2014

The border fence in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (JRS)
Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap—allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk.

Washington DC, 20 March 2014 – The US Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, USA from 30 March to April to tour the US-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the US desert since 1998.

The purpose of the trip is to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system in the United States, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored.

"Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap – allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk", said Mary Small, Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service USA.

Small advocated for humane immigration reform March 18 during a meeting with Obama Administration officials at the White House.

"What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration— that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issues", said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

"Those who have died – and those deported each day – have the same value and innate God – given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths".

The bishops’ trip follows the example of Pope Francis, who, in his first trip outside of Rome, travelled to the Italian island of Lampedusa to remember African migrants who died attempting to reach Europe. During that trip, Pope Francis spoke about the "globalization of indifference" toward migrants and decried the "throwaway culture" that disposes of human beings in the pursuit of wealth.

"The US-Mexico border is our Lampedusa. Migrants in this hemisphere try to reach it, but often die in the attempt", said Bishop Elizondo.

"We join the bishops in calling and praying for a system that instead recognizes and cherishes the value of each human life. Pope Francis has called us to reject this kind of throwaway culture; we demand that our lawmakers do the same", said Small.

"We exhibit our own indifference when we minimize or ignore this suffering and death, as if these people are not worth our attention. It degrades us as a nation", said Bishop Elizondo.

The bishops on the USCCB Committee on Migration will be joined by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and several border bishops. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson will host the delegation.

"Hopefully by highlighting the harsh impact the system has on our fellow human beings, our elected officials will be moved to reform it", Bishop Elizondo said. – See more at: http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20140320033029#sthash.t9448eEp.dpuf
United States: immigration reform needed to end suffering, redeem the nation
20 March 2014

The border fence in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (JRS)
Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap—allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk.

Washington DC, 20 March 2014 – The US Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, joined by bishops on the border, will travel to Nogales, Arizona, USA from 30 March to April to tour the US-Mexico border and celebrate Mass on behalf of the close to 6,000 migrants who have died in the US desert since 1998.

The purpose of the trip is to highlight the human suffering caused by a broken immigration system in the United States, an aspect of the national immigration debate which is often ignored.

"Current border policies think of migrants’ lives as cheap – allowing hundreds of migrants to die in our deserts each year, and deporting thousands more in dangerous ways that put their lives at risk", said Mary Small, Assistant Director for Policy at Jesuit Refugee Service USA.

Small advocated for humane immigration reform March 18 during a meeting with Obama Administration officials at the White House.

"What we fail to remember in this debate is the human aspect of immigration— that immigration is primarily about human beings, not economic or social issues", said Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration.

"Those who have died – and those deported each day – have the same value and innate God – given dignity as all persons, yet we ignore their suffering and their deaths".

The bishops’ trip follows the example of Pope Francis, who, in his first trip outside of Rome, travelled to the Italian island of Lampedusa to remember African migrants who died attempting to reach Europe. During that trip, Pope Francis spoke about the "globalization of indifference" toward migrants and decried the "throwaway culture" that disposes of human beings in the pursuit of wealth.

"The US-Mexico border is our Lampedusa. Migrants in this hemisphere try to reach it, but often die in the attempt", said Bishop Elizondo.

"We join the bishops in calling and praying for a system that instead recognizes and cherishes the value of each human life. Pope Francis has called us to reject this kind of throwaway culture; we demand that our lawmakers do the same", said Small.

"We exhibit our own indifference when we minimize or ignore this suffering and death, as if these people are not worth our attention. It degrades us as a nation", said Bishop Elizondo.

The bishops on the USCCB Committee on Migration will be joined by Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and several border bishops. Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson will host the delegation.

"Hopefully by highlighting the harsh impact the system has on our fellow human beings, our elected officials will be moved to reform it", Bishop Elizondo said. – See more at: http://en.jrs.net/news_detail?TN=NEWS-20140320033029#sthash.t9448eEp.dpuf

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