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
March 28, 2017

The Migrant Crisis Is “the Greatest Tragedy Since World War II,” Says the Pope

Zenit (March 22, 2017)
During his March 22nd General Audience, Pope Francis greeted the Migrantes Foundation, an arm of the Italian Bishops’ Conference that promotes the pastoral care of migrants and refugees arriving in Italy. The Holy Father encouraged them “to continue in their commitment to the reception and hospitality of the displaced and of refugees, fostering their integration, taking account of the mutual rights and duties of the one who receives and the one who is received.” He stated, "Let's not forget that this problem of refugees, of migrants today is the greatest tragedy since that of World War II."
To read more, visit

Letter from Catholic Religious Encouraging President Trump and Elected Officials to Support the US Refugee Resettlement Program

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (March 27, 2017)
Four thousand Catholic priests, religious brothers and sisters, and deacons submitted a letter to President Trump and all members of Congress encouraging them to continue to support the US refugee resettlement program. Stating a commitment to Jesus' teaching "to welcome the stranger and to protect those who are marginalized and vulnerable,” the signatories emphasized that the United States has a moral duty to provide safe haven to women, children, and men fleeing persecution. With 65 million people displaced around the world, the signatories wrote that now “is not the time to waiver in our commitment to this tradition of welcome." They also reminded the President and Congress that the Catholic Church is opposed to any proposal to prioritize any religion over another when considering the admission of refugees. They called on elected officials to instead “ensure that refugees of all ethnic and religious backgrounds have equal access to the US resettlement program."
To read the letter, visit
To read the press release, visit

Exclusive: US Embassies Ordered to Identify Population Groups for Tougher Visa Screening

Reuters (March 23, 2017)
Secretary of the US Department of State Rex Tillerson issued four cables in the past two weeks which implement President Donald Trump's campaign promise for "extreme vetting" of foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States. According to this article, the cables issued to US missions abroad lay out strict guidelines for vetting applicants for visas to the United States. One cable instructs the consular chiefs "to convene working groups of law enforcement and intelligence officials to 'develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny.'" Visa applicants falling within one of these identified groups must undergo higher-level security screening. The stated purpose of the extreme vetting is to protect the country from terrorist attacks. Some advocates and immigration lawyers fear that the new vetting requirements will lead to profiling visa applicants based on their nationality or their religion rather than based on whether they pose an actual terrorist threat.
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Indian Bishops Set Up Online System to Register Migrants

CRUX (March 20, 2017)
On March 15th, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India launched an online data management system to help the country's 309 million internal migrants find churches and basic services in their new locations as they move from rural areas to cities looking for work. According to this article, many migrant workers are often denied basic entitlements such as "access to subsidized food, housing, drinking water, public health facilities, education and banking services." The website is designed to connect migrant workers and to provide them with pastoral care, welfare services, and counseling. Migrant workers can register at any of the 78 "facilitation centers" around the country. The facilitation centers can help ensure that the migrant workers are not trafficked or exploited, and the centers also provide know your rights sessions so that the workers know how best to protect themselves. 
To read more, visit

The Problem with Having No Plan B if EU Deal with Turkey Fails

Refugees Deeply (March 24, 2017)
March 20th marked the first anniversary of an agreement between Turkey and the European Union under which Turkey agreed to take Syrian refugees arriving irregularly to Greece in return for 6 billion euros and eventual visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish nationals and the transfer of certain Syrian refugees to other European countries. Relations between Turkey and the EU, however, are worsening and Turkey is taking steps to halt admission of refugees deported from Greece. In this article, researcher Georg Gassauer asks why Turkey and the EU did not develop a contingency plan in the event either party failed to meet their obligations. Gassauer offers some explanations, including that EU governments were preoccupied with other matters such as Brexit, terrorism, and the rise of nationalism. In addition, the formalization of a Plan B would send a message that EU leaders lacked faith in their Turkish counterparts. However, by not creating a Plan B, the EU has inadvertently sent a message to its own people: "the inability to enforce the social contract by failing to provide physical protection of the individual through collective security." As a result, public servants responsible for carrying out refugee protection policies are losing faith in the refugee protection system, which in turn "results in disillusionment, misinterpretation of orders or, in worst cases, apathy among officials." This then permits smuggling rings to flourish and contributes to faulty data-gathering and transmission regarding refugee movements, which impacts funding allocations. If governments do not receive correct data, service providers will not receive needed funding. Ultimately, Gassauer concludes that, without a Plan B, “Europe will not be able to cope with a new mass movement of people."
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Canadians Adopted Refugee Families for a Year. Then Came ‘Month 13.’

The New York Times (March 25, 2017)
In 2016, private citizens in Canada committed one year to sponsoring thousands of newly resettled Syrian refugees. As the year draws to a close, there is some concern as to how refugees will fare beyond “Month 13” – the national nickname for when refugees will have to manage on their own. For some sponsors, it is difficult to pull back and let the refugees handle living expenses and navigate Canadian services on their own.
To read more, visit


The House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security will hold a hearing on March 28, 2017, entitled, “Restoring Enforcement of our Nation’s Immigration Laws.” The focus of the hearing is to consider new immigration enforcement laws needed by the Administration to carry out mass deportations. Witnesses include Thomas Hodgson, former sheriff of Bristol County, Massachusetts, and Archi Pyati, chief of policy programs at the Tahirih Justice Center.
The federal district court in Hawaii will hold a hearing on March 29, 2017 on its preliminary injunction against President Trump’s revised executive order, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The revised executive order, signed on March 6th, banned nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States, temporarily halted the US refugee program, and reduced the number of refugees resettled in the United States from 110,000 to 50,000 for FY2017. The hearing will consider arguments for and against lifting the injunction or limiting the stay only to the travel ban and not the refugee program.
The DREAM Act, introduced in the last several Congresses by Senator Richard J. Durbin, could be introduced in the 115th Congress later this week. The legislation would provide immigrant youth a path to citizenship and other benefits. The DREAM Act is more comprehensive and permanent than the BRIDGE Act, which provides undocumented youth with temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for qualified applicants for three years.



The Human Cost of IIRIRA – Stories from Individuals Impacted by the Immigration Detention System

Saba Ahmed, Adina Appelbaum and Rachel Jordan
The 1996 passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) has had a devastating impact on immigrants who are detained, indigent, and forced to face deportation proceedings without representation. Despite the growing specter of the “criminal alien” in the American psyche, there is little public knowledge or scrutiny of the vast immigration detention and deportation machine. Enforcement of IIRIRA has effectively erased human stories and narrowed immigration debates to numbers and statistics. This paper tells the stories of individuals — immigration attorneys, immigration judges, and detained immigrants and their family members — who have personally experienced the impact of IIRIRA. Collectively, these vignettes provide a realistic picture of the immigration detention experience and reveal the human cost of IIRIRA.
To read more, visit

New from IMR: Integration and Health-Related Issues of Immigrants

The Spring 2017 edition of the International Migration Review (IMR) is now available for free online through 2017 and in print through paid or institutional subscription. This edition includes a series of papers on immigrant integration, including a paper comparing social mobility and occupational attainment of Turks in Western Europe with Turks in Turkey and with Western European natives. Other articles explore health-related issues of immigrants in the United States. 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.
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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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