CMS Migration Update is a weekly digest of news and other information related to national and international migration.  It is designed to educate faith leaders regarding vulnerable immigrant populations, developments in the immigration field, pastoral resources and the religious touchstones of diverse faith traditions on migrants and newcomers. It should not be relied upon to provide advice or counsel in immigration cases. The publication is provided by the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS), an educational institute/think-tank devoted to the study of international migration, to the promotion of understanding between immigrants and receiving communities, and to public policies that safeguard the dignity and rights of migrants, refugees and newcomers. CMS is a member of the Scalabrini International Migration Network, an international network of shelters, welcoming centers, and other ministries for migrants.
Thomas J. Shea
Rachel Reyes
Director of Communications
January 26, 2017

Key Points in Trump’s Immigration Executive Orders

CNN (January 26, 2017)
On January 25th, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on immigration and border security – Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements and Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States. This article outlines each of the key measures: the building of a wall on the US-Mexico border; the increase in staffing of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enforcement agencies; the expansion of detention centers; the end of “catch and release”; the stripping of federal grant money to sanctuary states and cities; the deportation of immigrants under a broadened definition of “criminal”; and the reinstatement of the “Secure Communities” program.
To read more, visit

Trump’s Vetting Plan Would Weaken US Security

Washington Post (January 25, 2017)
President Trump is also expected to soon sign an executive order “shutting down all refugee processing for several months, barring refugees from Syria and cutting admissions in half over the next year.” In this piece, Donald Kerwin, CMS’ Executive Director, and Edward Alden, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, write that restricting migration can weaken cooperation with allies, damage US diplomacy and leave the United States more exposed to terrorism. The authors compare the measures to the post-9/11 National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), an initiative imposing “extreme vetting” and effectively blocking the entry of people from Muslim-majority nations and North Korea. NSEERS, however, “did not lead to a single terrorism-related prosecution.” Like NSEERS, the new executive orders could waste resources, alienate allies, and impair the ability of intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to gain cooperation from targeted communities.
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Fr. James Martin, SJ: “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me”

(January 25, 2017)
America Magazine editor-at-large, Fr. James Martin, SJ, recorded a video message in response to President Trump’s executive orders restricting immigration. In the video, Fr. Martin states, “These measures, which mean the rejection of the stranger, the rejection of the person in need, the rejection of those who suffer, are manifestly un-Christian and utterly contrary to the Gospel.” He urges viewers to listen to Pope Francis, St. John Paul II, the voice of God in Exodus, and Christ himself – all of whom called people to care for migrants and refugees. Fr. Martin concludes, “So, reject these measures and welcome Christ...Because if you do not, and you reject Christ, then it is [refugees and migrants’] prayers that you will need.”
To view Fr. Martin’s message, visit

Pope Invites Immigrants in USA to Seek Refuge Under Mary’s Mantle

Zenit (January 18, 2017)
During a Mass in Los Angeles to celebrate National Migration Week, a message from Pope Francis was shown by video to attendees. In the video, Pope Francis stated, "We are a community that also has a Mother and Jesus gave her to us, His Mother and our Mother, and a community must feel safe with a Mother.” Recalling an old saying by Russian monks of the Medieval Age, the Holy Father said, “When there is spiritual turbulence, seek refuge under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God.” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, who presided over the Mass, said that the Pope's statement was a message of "tranquility to our immigrant brothers and sisters to not be afraid because they are not alone."
To read more, visit

Kelly Confirmed as Homeland Security Secretary

Politico (January 20, 2017)
On January 20th, by a vote of 88 to 11, the US Senate confirmed retired Marine Corps General John F. Kelly as the new DHS Secretary. Prior to this position, Kelly served as head of the US Southern Command and retired from the marines in 2016. After the confirmation, General Kelly was sworn in as the fifth DHS Secretary. The DHS Secretary oversees the federal administrative agencies in charge of US immigration: US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
To read more, visit To read the DHS press release of Secretary Kelly's swearing-in, visit

Trump's Mexico Bashing May Backfire if Peso Plunge Forces Poor Migrants North

The Guardian (January 21, 2017)
Mexican migration to the United States has dwindled over the past ten years as Mexico's economy improved and the US’ economy struggled. Now, however, President Trump's pledge to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, build a wall along the US-Mexico border, use Mexican remittances to pay for the wall, and renegotiate trade deals have weakened the peso. The peso’s slump against the dollar has dramatically driven up Mexicans’ cost of living and created instability, ironically increasing Mexicans’ incentive to migrate to the United States in order to find work and support their families.
To read more, visit

Obama Ends Exemption for Cubans Who Arrive Without Visas

New York Times (January 12, 2017)
Before leaving office, President Obama terminated the 22-year-old “wet foot, dry foot” policy that allowed Cubans who arrived on United States soil without visas to remain in the country and gain legal residency, while Cubans caught trying to reach the United States by sea were returned home. The act is considered Obama’s “finishing touch” at normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States. Kevin Appleby, CMS’ Senior Director of International Migration Policy, stated, “The good news is that it ensures equal treatment between Cubans and asylum-seekers from other nations. The bad news is that our asylum system is broken and does not afford adequate due process and protection to those who need it.”
To read more, visit

Dangers Behind and Uncertainties Ahead, but Together at Last

The New York Times (January 16, 2017)
Eleven years ago, after her father died and her husband abandoned the family, Flor de Maria Rivera migrated from El Salvador to the United States to find work to support her family. She left her two young sons in the care of their grandmother, worked three jobs in the United States and sent money home. As her sons became older, they received threats from gangs. Fearing for their lives, the sons fled El Salvador with the help of a smuggler and took a treacherous two-week journey on foot and by car to the United States. The US Border Patrol arrested them in Texas. The boys, ages 17 and 12, are now in New York with their mother applying for permanent residence (green card) as Special Immigrant Juveniles as children who had been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Although the dangers they faced in El Salvador are now behind them, the boys’ lives “are full of uncertainties, and fears have taken new forms. But at least they are together."
To read more, visit

The Deportees Taking Our Calls

The New Yorker (January 23, 2017)
Eddie Anzora was born in El Salvador but lived in the United States from age two to 29, when he was deported back to his native country. He knew little of El Salvadoran culture and spoke Spanish with a Chicano accent, but his ability to speak fluent English eventually landed him a job with Sykes, a Florida-based company running the two largest American call centers in San Salvador. Author Jonathan Blitzer writes, “Drawn by low operating costs, generous tax incentives, and proximity to the United States, more than ten major cell-center firms operate in El Salvador, employing some twenty thousand people.” Furthermore, “deportations from the United States have fueled the industry, bringing an influx of English-speaking job-seekers.” Sykes employed so many deportees from the United States, it came to be known as “homieland.” With demand for English speakers outpacing supply, language schools are increasingly being established; and deportees are running and staffing most of them. 
To read more, visit

US Border Agents Turned Away Canadians Hoping to Come to the Women’s March

The Washington Post (January 21, 2017)
CBP officers reportedly prohibited six Canadian nationals and two French nationals from entering the United States through a port of entry near Quebec. The CBP officers asked the travelers what they planned to do in the United States, and when they responded that they were planning to attend the Women’s March in Washington DC, the officers denied their admission. According to this article, the officers also detained the travelers for two hours, took their fingerprints and photographs, and searched their car and their cell phones. The CBP officers then reportedly threatened the travelers with arrest if they again tried to enter the United States that weekend. In a statement, CBP declined to discuss individual cases but said that border officers have the discretion to deny entry for “a varied list of reasons that include prohibited activities or intent as well as national security concerns.”
To read more, visit

As Gambia’s Crisis Grows, Refugees Face Struggle for Asylum in Senegal

Refugees Deeply (January 19, 2017)
Since 1994, Gambia has been ruled by President Yahya Jammeh. Despite losing the election in December 2016 to Adama Barrow, President Jammeh has refused to step down. Military forces led by Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone (with support from the African Union) are now gathering on the Gambian border to help remove Jammeh while thousands of Gambians flee. For more than two years, author Sanna Camara, an exiled Gambian journalist, has been trying to apply for asylum to no avail. Stranded in Senegal, he struggles to find employment and continues to fear retaliation by the Gambian government. Camara also worries that the Senegalese government may not grant his asylum application out of fear of antagonizing the Gambian government.
To read more, visit

Climate Change and Mass Migration: A Growing Threat to Global Security

IRIN (January 19, 2017)
Although experts predict climate change will "soon become a massive driver of migration,” climate change was merely a sub-theme to the discussions on developing a Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration during the recent Global Forum on Migration and Development in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Author Jared Ferrie writes that by not focusing on climate change, countries will be ill-equipped at managing its effects. Climate change contributes to natural disasters (such as desertification, droughts, floods, and powerful storms) and threatens mass displacement. With large numbers of people crossing borders, there will likely be increased threats to global security. Migrants with no employment options may be susceptible to joining criminal and militant groups, "while the disappearance of island nations could spark armed conflict on the high seas as countries rush to claim newly vacant maritime territory." People forced from their home countries by natural disasters are not considered "refugees" under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Ferrie writes that the impact climate change will have depends in large part on what actions governments take now to mitigate its effects.
To read more, visit


Retired Marine General John F. Kelly was confirmed DHS Secretary by the US Senate on January 20, 2017 by a vote of 88-11. He was sworn in immediately after the vote. The nominations of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as Attorney General of the United States and Rex Tillerson as US Secretary of State will be considered this week.
Legislation to protect recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was reintroduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) on January 12, 2017.  S 128, the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act, would create protection from deportation and provide work authorization to those who received DACA by creating “provisional protected presence” for them for three years. HR 496, a companion bill, was introduced by Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) in the House of Representatives. 

The legislation was introduced, in part, to respond to the possibility that President Trump would revoke the DACA program, leaving nearly 800,000 young immigrants vulnerable to deportation. As of Monday, January 23, President Trump has yet to take such action and might keep the program in place until Congress can pass legislation protecting the group. President Trump could also reinstate the Secure Communities program, which could require state and local law enforcement to hold undocumented immigrants for removal by federal authorities.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced HR 391, the Asylum Reform and Protection Act, on January 10, 2017, in the House of Representatives. The legislation, introduced in previous years, would modify the “credible fear” standard to require would be asylum-seekers to provide extra proof that they are in danger, making the standard more difficult to meet. It also changes the definition of an unaccompanied alien child by adding extended family members and other sponsors as guardians.

The bill also would repeal provisions of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008 which provide protection to unaccompanied alien children from noncontiguous countries. Repeal of these provisions would allow US enforcement officials to remove such minors from Central America and other nations more easily.


New from IMR: Migration Policies and Processes

The Winter 2016 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available online and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition includes a series of papers on trends and impact of migration policies, including a paper introducing findings from a database that measures immigration policies across countries. Other articles explore migration processes in Mexico, the United States, India, Canada, and Albania. This edition also includes eight new book reviews which are always made open access and freely available for three years from the date of publication.
To read more, visit

The Catholic Church’s Commitment to Immigrants and Refugees at the Dawn of the Trump Era 

The third annual Catholic Immigrant Integration Initiative Conference took place in the wake of the US presidential election in which the winning candidate regularly disparaged immigrants and refugees, but nonetheless enjoyed the support of a large majority of white Catholics and a slim majority of all Catholics. In this essay, Donald Kerwin, CMS’ Executive Director recounts the conference proceedings and highlights the contributions of participants in considering how the Church can create and support inclusive communities at the dawn of the Trump era.
To read more, visit

If you are a migrant or pastoral worker and wish to submit an article or reflection to the CMS Migration Update, please email Tom Shea at

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