The following email was sent to Cal Catholic on Nov. 28:
“Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange signed a letter in September asking the Federal government to used executive authority to deal with immigration. Letter was sent with no fanfare by a lobbying arm of the USCCB for immigration change. All very quiet. Why?:
From the letter:
On behalf of the Committee on Migration of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., we write to urge you to use your authority to protect undocumented individuals and families as soon as possible, within the limits of your executive authority. With immigration reform legislation stalled in Congress, our nation can no longer wait to end the suffering of family separation caused by our broken immigration system. Specifically, we ask that you take the following steps: First, we urge you to authorize deferred action for the following groups, consistent with current bars for those who have committed serious crimes:
Immigrants with strong community ties and equities in the United States and have lived in the United States for ten years or longer.
Undocumented persons who have resided in the United States for ten years or longer have built equities in our communities and contributed to our economy and our social fabric. Despite their contributions, they remain in the shadows and fear separation from their families. Providing them protection from deportation would permit them to come out of the shadows and fully contribute to our society as they get processed through the legal system.
Parents of U.S. citizens.
One of the tragedies of deportations has been the separation of parents from their U.S. citizen children. Parents are left with a heart-wrenching decision, to leave their children in the United States with family or friends, knowing they will not see them for a long time, or take them to a country they do not know. Children who see their parents removed and face long separations from them also are adversely impacted. They are the future leaders of our nation, yet removing them from their parents often confuses them and shakes their trust in our government. Moreover, these parents have no doubt built equities in our country—raised a family, bought homes, and started businesses—which would warrant consideration and the use of discretion in their removal.
Parents of recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
We applaud the decision in 2012 to provide deferred action to children and youth who entered the United States with their parents as minors. We now urge you to offer protection to the parents of DACA participants, so that they do not experience separation from their children.
Individuals residing in the United States with already approved family and employment petitions. Individuals living in the United States who have approved family-based or employment-based petitions and who are unable to receive permanent resident status because of visa backlogs or because of 3 and 10-year bars should receive deferred action. These individuals remain in the country but are unable to access their approved visa-petitions. Moreover, these individuals are already in the Department of Homeland Security database and are unlikely to be apprehended or deported.
Second, we urge you to take the following steps within the existing legal immigration system, which would help address concerns about the system we have expressed in the past:
Do not count derivatives against the cap for family-based petitions.
Currently, derivatives— spouses and children—are counted against the family quotas in the family-based immigration system, in part contributing to long waits in the family preference categories. However, counting derivatives against the cap is not required by law. In fact, Congress repealed language requiring this counting in the 1990 Immigration Act. We urge you not to count these derivatives in the future, so that families may be reunited in a more expeditious manner.
Expand eligibility for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers.
In March 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began permitting certain immigrant visa applicants who are spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens to apply for provisional unlawful presence waivers in the U.S. before leaving for their visa interview abroad. Applying for a waiver in this country reduces the time that families are separated and reduces their financial and emotional hardships. Eligibility for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver is currently limited to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who can prove extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse or parents. Eligibility for provisional waivers should be expanded to include all individuals who are currently eligible to apply for a waiver abroad. This would include all individuals applying for an immigrant visa who can prove extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or parents.
In addition, we urge you to consider expanding eligibility beyond individuals whose sole ground of inadmissibility is unlawful presence. Individuals who are inadmissible for other reasons should also be eligible to seek a waiver from within the United States to reduce the hardship on their U.S. citizen and LPR family members….
To read the entire letter, click here.