One hundred years ago, it seemed that immigration to the United States would be a thing of the past. Congress had already forbidden most migration from Asia. In 1921 it began restricting migration from Europe. However, in 1921, the United States Catholic hierarchy organized within the National Catholic Welfare Conference (NCWC) its Bureau of Immigration. Since 2001, that organization has been known as Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), which is now a division of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The earliest records of the NCWC Bureau of Immigration’s main office in Washington, DC, and its busy port office in New York City, are located at the Center for Migration Studies of New York. What do these records of a century of action on behalf of immigrants have to tell us today?
The CRISIS Survey documents the reach, diversity, and productivity of Catholic institutions that work with immigrants and refugees during a pandemic that has particularly devastated their communities and an administration whose policies and rhetoric made their work far more difficult. At a time of rampant “Catholic decline” narratives, the survey also documents the reach, vitality, and relevance of Catholic immigrant-serving institutions. It identifies the obstacles encountered by immigrants in accessing Catholic programs and ministries – both organizational (funding, staffing, and siting) and exogenous (federal policies, the pandemic, and community opposition). It underscores the threat posed by US immigration policies to immigrants and to the work of Catholic institutions.
The northern border of Mexico is a space of reception and containment for migrant families and individuals, who find themselves in conditions of great precariousness and practically null resources. Few migrants have material resources or social connections in Tijuana. The Casa del Migrante offers support to those waiting to cross the border. This wait can be prolonged indefinitely due to asylum and border control policies, a reality exacerbated by COVID-19 and related policies.
The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) conducted an extensive literature review and compiled the following resources and recent research on Catholic and faith-based work with immigrant communities. These resources cover the work of a wide array of institutions, including parishes, elementary schools, colleges and universities, charities, health issues, and congregations. This compilation also presents recent literature on the impact of immigrants on Catholic faith communities, advocacy by Catholic institutions, ethical issues, resources on working with immigrants, and other issues.
Guadalupan Multicultural Services of the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, otherwise known as “La Casita,” has provided a range of services to immigrants in northern Alabama for years.
Partnership Schools, a network of nine Catholic elementary schools in New York, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio, is giving immigrant youth from the inner city a chance to learn and thrive in a faith-based and safe environment.
Two Scalabrini priests located at opposite ends of North America have worked to support vulnerable groups during the COVID pandemic.
The 2020 Father Lydio F. Tomasi, C.S. Annual Lecture on International Migration was delivered by His Eminence Cardinal Michael F. Czerny, SJ, Under-Secretary for the Migrants & Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Human Development.
This Sunday, September 27th the Church celebrates the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. On this occasion, Pope Francis issued a timely letter entitled Like Jesus, Forced to Flee. In the letter, the Holy Father summarizes the reality facing so many displaced people throughout the world who have been forced to flee for their lives during the worldwide pandemic.
This is a working paper and draft chapter for the forthcoming book, Christianity and the Law of Migration, eds. Silas W. Allard, Kristin E. Heyer, and Raj Nadella (London: Routledge, 2021).
Will the nation’s historic genius at integrating immigrants persist? With a record 44 million foreign-born U.S. residents and nearly double that number counting their US-born children, the stakes could not be higher. This chapter will explore the integration successes and challenges of U.S. immigrants and their progeny. It examines the conditions in receiving societies that improve and diminish the integration prospects of immigrants. These include, on the one hand, rising nationalism, nativism, and a rapidly changing labor market due to automation, robotization, and artificial intelligence, and, on the other hand, integration initiatives and strong mediating institutions. The chapter will begin by exploring different conceptions of integration, and conclude by reflecting on how Christianity might inform national and local integration policies. While this chapter focuses on the U.S. context, the issues discussed are pertinent in a wide variety of countries experiencing significant immigration.