In a remarkable display of unity and commitment to the core values of their faith, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have joined a powerful coalition of fifty Catholic organizations and religious congregations, aligning with the Ignatian Solidarity Network to voice a resolute stance on immigration policies in the United States. This coalition, deeply rooted in Catholic social teaching, has taken a significant step by sending letters to the U.S. Senate and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, expressing their strong opposition to certain immigration proposals under consideration as part of the Biden administration’s supplemental budget request.
The scene at the U.S. Capitol on October 30, 2023, was emblematic of this movement’s spirit and resolve. Jonathan Mora, a student at Boston College and a member of ISN’s Undocu Network, stood there, representing not just his own views but those of many young people affected by these policies. The Undocu Network, comprising students and recent alumni from Catholic colleges and universities, is a testament to the active involvement of young Catholics in social justice issues, particularly immigration.
Central to the coalition’s concerns are proposals that could significantly alter the landscape of asylum in the United States. These include raising the legal standard for accessing asylum, implementing a Title 42-expulsion authority, and expanding expedited removal nationwide. Such measures, the coalition argues, would not only harm vulnerable populations but also go against the Catholic principles of welcoming the stranger and the preferential option for the poor.
Instead, these organizations and congregations are advocating for a more compassionate and just approach. They are urging senators and the administration to seek bipartisan solutions that would support communities welcoming newcomers, provide a pathway to citizenship for long-term undocumented residents (including those often referred to as “Dreamers”), reduce asylum wait times, increase access to legal representation, and address the root causes of forced migration.
Christopher Kerr, Executive Director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, emphasized the real-world impact of these policies, stating, “Our work with young people who are undocumented and partnership with Jesuit border ministries accompanying those seeking asylum make us keenly aware that the immigration proposals being offered will cause harm and only further marginalize vulnerable populations.” This sentiment echoes the calls of Pope Francis and the U.S. Catholic Bishops for the United States to be a leader in creating a world where all migrants are treated with dignity, respect, welcome, and belonging.
Dylan Corbett, Executive Director of the Hope Border Institute, highlighted the detrimental effects of the proposed policies on vulnerable individuals, particularly those at the U.S.-Mexico border. He urged Congress and the White House to learn from faith communities that have been actively welcoming newcomers and to enact real solutions that manage the border humanely while upholding the rule of law.
Giulia McPherson, Vice President of Advocacy at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, also weighed in, emphasizing the importance of not compromising the rights and protections of the most vulnerable, including asylum seekers, as Congress debates the supplemental funding package. She called for policymakers to support critical overseas humanitarian assistance and ensure that those arriving at U.S. borders have the opportunity to seek protection safely and humanely.
In this concerted effort, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and their fellow Catholic organizations are not just advocating for policy changes; they are upholding the very essence of their faith—compassion, justice, and a commitment to the dignity of every human being. Their collective voice serves as a powerful reminder of the role faith communities can play in shaping a more just and compassionate world.