This paper analyzes the impact of the Trump administration immigration policies on Catholic organizations, presenting the results of CMS’s Federal Enforcement Effect Research (FEER) Survey. It finds that US policies in the Trump era have significantly increased immigrant demand for the services provided by Catholic institutions and, in general, that these institutions have expanded their services in response. However, 59 percent of respondents – the highest total for this question – identified “fear of apprehension or deportation” as “negatively” impacting immigrants’ access to their services. In addition, 57 percent reported that immigration enforcement has “very negatively” or “somewhat negatively” affected the participation of immigrants in their programs or ministries. The FEER Survey illustrates the need for broad immigration reform. It shows that the status quo prevents immigrants from accessing the services they need and it impedes people of faith from effectively exercising their religious convictions on human dignity, protection, and service to the poor and vulnerable.
Despite the largest immigration enforcement budget in US history, the Border Patrol is set to apprehend the highest number of border crossers in more than a decade. This essay argues that the administration’s enforcement-only approach cannot successfully address this humanitarian crisis, and does not deserve any additional funding. Instead, the administration should respond to the conditions driving Central American and Venezuelan asylum seekers, provide protection for those fleeing violence and other impossible conditions, and create a strong, well-resourced US asylum system.