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
February 7, 2017

Catholics Respond to Border Wall, Travel Ban Trump Orders on Migrants and Refugees Draw Sharp Rebuke, Deep Concerns from Church Leaders

OSV Newsweekly (January 30, 2017)
Several Catholic leaders swiftly responded to President Trump's executive orders impacting immigrants and refugees with statements based on principles of Catholic social teaching and Church teaching on human dignity. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey called the orders "the opposite of what it means to be an American. Closing borders and building walls are not rational acts. Mass detentions and wholesale deportation benefit no one; such inhuman policies destroy families and communities. In fact, threatening the so-called 'sanctuary cities' with the withdrawal of federal funding for vital services such as healthcare, education and transportation will not reduce immigration. It only will harm all good people in those communities." Kevin Appleby, CMS’s Senior Director of International Migration Policy, said that Trump's January 25th executive order is ramping up a system to arrest, detain, and deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible, "which undermines the goal of Catholic leaders to achieve immigration reform where many of these immigrants would be able to get on a path to citizenship."
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Statement of the Catholic Theological Society of America Board of Directors on Refugees and Migration

Catholic Theological Society of America (January 31, 2017)
The Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America issued a statement calling President Trump's executive order on refugees "morally unjust and religiously dangerous" and urging that the order to be withdrawn and its implementation to be stopped. The statement states that the order “conflicts starkly” with the religious and ethical values held in the Roman Catholic tradition and "contravenes both the values advanced by Christian faith and the commitments that have made the United States so attractive to those in need and danger." Recognizing that every country has a right to secure its borders, it points out that such a right, however, does not eliminate a country's "moral duties to other human beings, especially when they are in great danger." It adds that, as theologians, members seek to advance interreligious understanding, and the presidential directive “threatens to undermine…efforts to enhance mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims.”
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Iraqi Patriarch: Fast Track for Christian Refugees Will Fuel Tensions

CRUX (January 30, 2017)
President Trump's executive order banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries also instructs the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to prioritize the admission of foreign nationals who are believers of a minority religion and subject to religious persecution in their native countries. Although the order does not specify the members of which minority religions should be prioritized, it is widely reported that the intent of the provision is to prioritize the admission of Christian refugees. In response, Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako warns the policy may be a "trap" to encourage discrimination and fuel religious tensions in the Middle East. Patriarch Sako says that prioritizing Christians plays into the propaganda spread by those who attack “native Christian communities of the Middle East as 'foreign bodies'” or as groups that are “supported and defended by Western powers." He adds that those fleeing persecution "do not need to be divided according to religious labels." The head of Caritas Internationalis, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines agrees, saying that prioritizing Christians over Muslims "might revive some of these animosities and might even pit Christians against Muslims, and that (also) might generate contrary action from the Muslims against Christians."
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Appeals Court Rejects Trump Administration’s Request to Restore Travel Ban

The Hill (February 5, 2017)
On February 3rd, US District Court Judge James Robart issued a temporary nationwide restraining order halting President Donald Trump's executive order suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days, suspending the admission of refugees and nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, and indefinitely banning the admission of Syrian refugees. Judge Robart's ruling allows refugees and travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to enter the United States. On February 4th, the Trump Administration through the US Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed the order to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco asking the appeals court for an emergency stay to restore the order during the appeal. The 9th Circuit, however, denied the DOJ's request.
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Review of Trump’s Immigration Order by Office of Legal Counsel

The New York Times (February 2, 2017)
In a January 27th memo, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel summarized several of the actions authorized by President Trump's executive order entitled, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." According to the memo, the executive order was prepared by the Domestic Policy Council. However, the memo ultimately concurs with Trump's executive order "with respect to form and legality."
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President Trump’s Immigration Order, Annotated

The New York Times (January 28, 2017)
Correspondent Adam Liptak comments on President Trump's January 27th executive order entitled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." The executive order, which has become popularly known as the "Muslim Ban," suspends admission of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Although Trump invoked the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a basis for evaluating the admissions procedures for USRAP, none of the 19 hijackers were from the seven banned countries. In fact, most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia while the others were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon. Liptak writes that Trump's order ostensibly seeks to prevent admission of those who "bear hostile attitudes toward [the United States] and its founding principles" yet the founding principles of the United States included opposition to King George's restrictive immigration policies. Moreover, Trump bans the admission of foreign nationals who do not support the US Constitution, but there is no statutory requirement that non-citizens seeking to enter the United States demonstrate support for the Constitution. Liptak adds that Trump's executive order cites section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to give the President broad authority to deny the admission of any alien or class of aliens who would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States" and that this executive order "[i]n terms of the number of prospective immigrants by far the most significant use of the power by any president." Some believe that Trump's order also conflicts with a later law making it illegal to discriminate “in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person's race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.”
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Refugees Are Already Vigorously Vetted. I Know Because I Vetted Them.

The Washington Post (February 1, 2017)
Natasha Hall is a former US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration officer with nearly four years of experience interviewing refugees for resettlement in the United States. Hall writes that President Trump's executive order suspending refugee admissions provides no logical benefit to national security but instead feeds into extremist rhetoric that the United States hates all Muslims. Although Trump's executive order is ostensibly geared towards strengthening USRAP and ensuring that applicants for admission are who they claim to be and do not have the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts, Hall states that whoever wrote Trump's order does not realize all refugees undergo intensive screening before they arrive in the United States. In addition, "[w]hile the average wait time for refugee resettlement is 18 to 24 months, Iraqis and Syrians typically wait several years," because of additional screenings, interviews, and other background checks. Hall describes the lengthy process of interviews and screening that foreign nationals go through in order to apply for refugee status, emphasizing that only 0.1 percent of the 65 million refugees worldwide were resettled in the United States last year. She also adds that the most well-documented refugees that DHS encounters are Iranians, Iraqis, and Syrians – people who, ironically, are now banned from the United States under Trump's order.
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The Little-noticed Bombshell in Trump's Immigration Order

POLITICO (February 3, 2017)
Under President Trump's executive orders on immigrants and refugees, a little-noticed provision calls for the creation and implementation of a "uniform screening standard and procedure" for all foreign nationals seeking admission to the United States, regardless of visa category, country of origin, or period of intended stay. The meaning of the provision is unclear but some fear that, if the order is implemented as written, it might shut down tourism to the United States. Donald Kerwin, CMS’s Executive Director, asks, "Do they want to create, like we have for refugees now, a two-year process [for everyone looking to enter the US] that involves multiple screenings and re-screenings and vetting by every single security agency? I don't think so. I think that would shut down immigration to the United States." Former government officials add that enforcing this provision is virtually impossible with existing resources. In addition, enforcing it might lead other countries to retaliate and subject US travelers to similar vetting.
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Visa Ban Amended to Allow Iraqi Interpreters Into US

The New York Times (February 2, 2017)
This article reports that the Trump administration amended the "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" order to permit the admission of family members of Iraqi interpreters who served the United States government and military forces deployed in Iraq. A US embassy official in Iraq states, "The US government has determined that it is in the national interest to allow Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders to continue to travel to the United States." The change was recommended for SIV holders because they "had demonstrated their commitment to American military services." The exemption eases some of the anger generated in Iraq caused by Trump's ban.
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Weekly Chart: Get the Facts on Immigration and Crime in the United States

Americas Society/Council of the Americas (February 2, 2017)
In the January 25th executive order calling for the construction of a contiguous and impassible physical wall along the country's nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico to stop the reported "recent surge of illegal immigration," President Trump asserts that illegal immigration poses a "clear and present" danger to the United States. This article reports that immigration data does not support Trump’s claims. For example, between 2009 and 2014, more Mexicans departed the United States than entered it with no significant increase since. In addition, Trump pledged to deport two to three million criminal immigrants but, according to the article that many criminal immigrants "quite simply...don't exist." In fact, native born men are up to five times more likely than foreign-born men to commit crimes and be incarcerated in the United States. 
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Trump’s Draft Plan to Cut Off Food Stamps for Immigrants Could Cause Some US Citizens to Go Hungry

Washington Post (February 3, 2017)
A draft executive order leaked last week will restrict access to needs-based nutrition programs, such as SNAP (also known as “food stamps”), that are currently accessed by millions of immigrants for themselves and on behalf of their citizen children. As written, the order instructs the State Department and DHS to overhaul the definition of “public charge” and make certain immigrants who use public benefits subject to possible deportation. It is unclear when (or if) Trump plans to sign the order, and if it would be signed in its current form.
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Leftover Obama Refugee Deal with Australia Draws Questions

The Daily Signal (February 3, 2017)
In November 2016, the Obama administration reached an agreement with Australia to resettle hundreds of Australia’s refugees in the United States. In a phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on February 4, President Trump reportedly criticized the deal. Kevin Appleby, CMS’s Senior Director of International Migration Policy, explained that Trump sees the deal as putting him “in a bad position politically.” Despite his misgivings, Trump later agreed to honor the agreement but it is unclear as to how many refugees from Australia will ultimately be resettled in the United States.
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The nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be Attorney General of the United States is scheduled to be considered by the full US Senate on February 8, 2017. Senator Sessions’ nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 1, 2017 by a party line vote of 11-9. The nomination has been controversial, with civil rights and civil liberties groups opposing his nomination.  Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis and Senator Corey Booker of New Jersey testified against the nomination, arguing that Sessions will not sufficiently protect the rights of immigrants and minorities. 
Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon Mobil, was confirmed by the US Senate on February 1, 2017 by a vote of 56-43. Secretary Tillerson will oversee the US refugee program and have influence on the number and source of refugees accepted by the United States each year.
Several bills have been introduced in Congress reacting to the executive orders on immigrants and refugees signed by President Trump. HR 739, introduced by Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) would prohibit the construction of walls and certain barriers on certain federal lands. HR 748, introduced by Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL), would prohibit the withholding of Federal grants to jurisdictions that do not honor detainer requests. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has introduced S. 211, legislation that would allow a governor to reject a refugee from resettlement in his or her state if there are not adequate assurances from the federal government that the refugee is not a security risk. 
The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on February 7, 2017 on border security, including the construction of a border wall. Retired General John Kelly, the new DHS Secretary, will testify at the hearing. 
Thomas Homan, former director of the office of Enforcement and Removal, has been named the acting head of Interior and Customs Enforcement (ICE), replacing Daniel Ragsdale, who will continue in his former position as Deputy Director of ICE. 



Mass Deportations Would Impoverish US Families and Create Immense Social Costs

CMS released a report on the impact of President Trump’s large-scale deportation plan on US families and the US economy. The report provides a statistical portrait of the US undocumented population, with an emphasis on the social and economic conditions of mixed-status households (that is, households that contain a US citizen and an undocumented resident). The study, authored by Robert Warren and Donald Kerwin, finds that mass deportations would plunge millions of US families into poverty, cost $118 billion to care for US-citizen children of deported parents, imperil the housing market, and reduce gross domestic product.
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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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