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 1, 2017

President Trump's Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Improvements

White House (January 25, 2017)
President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order on January 25th directing executive agencies and departments "to deploy all lawful means to secure the Nation's southern border, to prevent further illegal immigration into the United States, and to repatriate illegal aliens swiftly, consistently, and humanely." The order calls for the "immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border" and the detention of "individuals apprehended on suspicion of violating federal or state law." The order further calls for a rapid determination of a detainee's claim to remain in the United States and for the prompt removal of foreign nationals whose claims to remain have been lawfully rejected. The executive order proclaims it is the policy of the executive branch to cooperate fully with state and local law enforcement and to enact federal-state partnerships to enforce federal immigration priorities. The order calls for the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to “construct, operate or control” facilities to detain foreign nationals along the border with Mexico.  It calls on DHS to assign asylum officers to those facilities to conduct credible fear determinations for asylum-seekers, and calls on the US Attorney General to assign immigration judges to detention facilities to oversee removal (deportation) proceedings. The order ends the so-called policy of "catch and release" and requires all foreign nationals who enter the United States without authorization to be detained pending the outcome of removal proceedings. The order also calls for the Attorney General to make it a priority to prosecute offenses "having a nexus to the southern border."
To read the executive order, visit

President Trump's Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

White House (January 25, 2017)
Claiming that the US federal government has "failed to discharge [the] basic sovereign responsibility" of enforcing immigration law, President Trump issued an executive order "to direct executive departments and agencies to employ all lawful means to enforce the immigration laws of the United States." Toward this end, jurisdictions that do not comply with immigration laws may not receive federal funds, except as mandated by law. The order calls for the prompt removal of foreign nationals who are ordered removed (deported). It calls for support of victims of crimes by removable (deportable) foreign nationals.  
The order sets deportation priorities, including those who have engaged in fraud or misrepresentation or abused any program related to the receipt of public benefits, and foreign nationals with criminal backgrounds, including people "who have been convicted of any criminal offense" or "[h]ave been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved.” The order calls for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hire 10,000 additional immigration officers to assist with federal-state partnerships for immigration enforcement. It directs DHS to authorize state and local law enforcement to perform the functions of immigration officers pertaining to investigating, apprehending, or detaining foreign nationals. State and local jurisdictions that willfully refuse to comply with the federal-state agreements on the enforcement of immigration law (sanctuary jurisdictions) "are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or Secretary [of DHS]." The order terminates the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and resurrects the controversial Secure Communities program. It also calls on the head of ICE to create an office to "provide proactive, timely, adequate, and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens and the family members of such victims."
To read the executive order, visit

President Trump's Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States

White House (January 27, 2017)
On January 27th, President Trump issued his third immigration-related executive order. The order states that the United States "cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law" and that it is US policy "to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States." The order halts the admission of legal immigrants and temporary visitors to the United States from seven countries for 90 days because their admission "would be detrimental to the interests of the United States." In addition, it calls for the creation of a uniform screening standard and procedure to catch people seeking to fraudulently enter the United States with the intent to do harm or who may pose a risk of harm after admission. 
The order cuts refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000, and suspends all refugee admissions into the United States for 120 days from the date of his order. It indefinitely suspends the admission of any Syrian refugees because their entry "is detrimental to the interests of the United States." It also prioritizes the admission of refugees who are religious minorities in their own countries and are subject to religious persecution. It directs that a biometric entry-exit tracking system be implemented in order to monitor foreign national visits to the United States. All foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States on a temporary visa must now undergo an in-person interview. Trump directs DHS to track certain data on foreign nationals, including numbers on those who have been charged, convicted, and deported of terrorism-related offenses, as well as numbers of those who have been radicalized since admission to the United States and engaged in terrorism-related activity. DHS must also track foreign nationals charged with major offenses and gender-based violence.
To read more, visit

Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, on the Executive Order on Refugees and Migrants

Archdiocese of Chicago (January 29, 2017)
Blaise Cardinal Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement condemning President Trump’s orders suspending refugee admissions. He stated, “The executive order to turn away refugees and to close our nation to those, particularly Muslims, fleeing violence, oppression and persecution is contrary to both Catholic and American values.” Cardinal Cupich also noted that while the Trump administration insists that the order does not amount to a “Muslim ban,” it targets only Muslim-majority countries. He urged Americans “to put aside fear and join together to recover who we are and what we represent to a world badly in need of hope and solidarity.”
To read more, visit

Bishops Applaud, Deplore Trump’s Executive Orders

CRUX (January 25, 2017)
Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York praised an Executive Order that restricts funding to foreign non-governmental organizations that provide abortion services. Two days later, however, Bishop Joe Vasquez of the Diocese of Austin and Chair of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, expressed his dismay at the push to build a wall along the US-Mexico border, saying, “This action will put immigrant lives needlessly in harm's way. Construction of such a wall will only make migrants, especially vulnerable women and children, more susceptible to traffickers and smugglers." Bishop Vasquez said that instead "[w]e will look to build bridges between people, bridges that allow us to break down the walls of exclusion and exploitation." He acknowledged that although the government has the authority to control the borders and ensure that Americans are secure "we do not believe that a large scale escalation of immigrant detention and intensive increased use of enforcement in immigrant communities is the way to achieve those goals." He reiterated the USCCB's commitment to “comprehensive, compassionate, and common-sense [immigration] reform."
To read more, visit

USCCB Committee on Migration Chair Strongly Opposes Executive Order Because it Harms Vulnerable Refugee and Immigrant Families

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (January 27, 2017)
Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin and Chair of USCCB’s Committee on Migration issued a statement strongly opposing President Trump’s executive order temporarily halting refugee admissions for 120 days, reducing refugee admissions for fiscal year 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000, barring the admission of Syrian refugees, and prioritizing the admission of religious minorities who are subject to religious persecution. Bishop Vasquez stated, "We believe that now more than ever, welcoming newcomers and refugees is an act of love and hope.” He added that committee will continue to work with the Trump administration "to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed...without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones." With respect to the ban on the admission of Syrian refugees and the prioritization of religious minorities subject to religious persecution, Bishop Vasquez stated, “We believe in assisting all those who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religion ... However, we need to protect all our brothers and sisters of all faiths, including Muslims, who have lost family, home, and country. They are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity."
To read more, visit

Some of the US’s Most Important Catholic Leaders are Condemning Trump’s Travel Ban

Washington Post (January 30, 2017)
President Trump, who won the majority of Catholic votes, is facing opposition from Catholic bishops and nonprofit leaders who are issuing strongly worded statements condemning his executive order on refugees. The Catholic Church has a long history of helping refugees resettle in the United States. According to a USCCB spokesman, 83 Catholic dioceses out of 196 in the country are involved in resettling refugees in some way. Among those that have issued statements, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington called for Catholics “to contact our elected officials to make our voices heard: our communities have been and will continue to be hospitable to refugees, in keeping with our legacy of welcoming the stranger.”
To read more, visit

Christian Groups Oppose Trump’s Preference for Christian Refugees

Politico (January 29, 2017)
A coalition of Christian evangelical groups wrote to President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence opposing Trump’s executive order temporarily halting refugee resettlement and dramatically reducing the number of refugees who could be considered for resettlement to the United States. The groups wrote: “The Bible teaches us that each person – including each refugee, regardless of their country of origin, religious background, or any other qualifier – is made in the Image of God, with inherent dignity and potential. Their lives matter to God, and they matter to us...[W]e believe the refugee resettlement program provides a lifeline to these uniquely vulnerable individuals and a vital opportunity for our churches to live out the biblical commands to love our neighbors, to make disciples of all nations, and to practice hospitality.” The signatories include the Accord Network, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Korean Churches for Community Development, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the Wesleyan Church, World Relief and World Vision.
To read more, visit

“Today the Headlines Clot in My Blood”

Views from Alongside a Border (January 23, 2017)
Michael Seifert of Brownsville, Texas writes in his blog about Sara, an undocumented women who fled an abusive relationship with a US citizen and raised her eight children on her own in the United States. Although nervous that President Trump may have her deported, Sara says, "God gave me this family to raise, and that is what I am doing." Seifert also writes of the hundreds of people who gathered near the border in Brownsville in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington, saying, "The marchers were loud, and in plain sight. Many of them were undocumented, and perhaps, like Sara, nervous, but fearless." Despite their courage, Seifert worries for undocumented mothers as US Border Patrol trucks patrol the neighborhood.
To read more, visit

Trump’s Flashy Executive Actions Could Run Aground

Politico (January 26, 2017)
Trump administration officials reportedly made little effort to communicate with the agencies that are directly impacted by his executive orders or with key Congressional members before issuing the orders. Some now fear that the orders might be "unworkable, unenforceable, or even illegal." As an example, Trump's executive order directing construction of a border wall does not specify who will be responsible for paying the expensive cost of the construction. Theresa Cardinal Brown, director of immigration policy for the Bipartisan Policy Center, said "[Trump] needs money to do it...You can't shuffle money even within a department. You have to go back to Congress."
To read more, visit

What Comes Next for Trump's Border Wall?

Lawfare (January 26, 2017)
Stephanie Leutert and Savitri Arvey outline the next steps expected over the coming months in the implementation of President Trump's executive order to construct a wall on the US-Mexico border. First, the wall will be expensive. Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan estimate the cost will range between $8 billion and $14 billion, while independent estimates range from $15 billion to $40 billion. Second, environmental groups, Native American communities, and border residents are expected to push back on construction of the wall.  Finally, the construction of the wall will damage US-Mexican relations.
To read more, visit

Judge Halts Deportations as Refugee Ban Causes Worldwide Furor

The Washington Post (January 28, 2017)
In response to President Trump’s executive order restricting admissions, Judge Ann Donnelly of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn issued a stay temporarily stopping deportations of individuals with refugee applications approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia who are legally authorized to enter the United States. Shortly thereafter, Judge Leonie Brinkema of the US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia issued an order temporarily stopping deportations of any lawful permanent resident (LPR or green card holder) detained under the executive order at Dulles International Airport for seven days. DHS responded that it would continue to implement Trump's executive order while abiding by the judicial orders. According to the article, there was confusion and concern among immigrant advocates as travelers from the seven targeted countries were detained or sent home. Also, many were surprised to learn that the order also applied to LPRs and dual nationals. Since Trump signed the order, 109 people have been denied entry into the United States and 173 were prohibited from boarding planes bound for the United States.
To read more, visit

Trump Ratchets up Defense of Immigrant Ban as Outrage Mounts

Politico Breaking News (January 29, 2017)
President Trump defended his executive order which suspends the admission of refugees, indefinitely bars Syrian refugees, and blocks the admission of refugees and legal visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, appeared to walk-back part of the order by stating that LPRs are not barred under the order, "signaling confusion and fissures within the 10-day-old administration." Trump insisted that his executive order is not a ban on Muslims because many Muslim-majority countries are not on the list but instead is "about terror and keeping our country safe."
To read more, visit

Trump Administration Reverses Itself Amidst Backlash, Exempts Green Card Holders from Travel Ban

New York Magazine (January 29, 2017)
DHS Secretary John Kelly issued a statement declaring that LPRs are not banned from admission to the United States under Trump's executive order, regardless of their native country. This reversal of course comes in response to the "increasing nationwide backlash and protests against Trump's new travel ban." According to the article, Secretary Kelly deems "the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest," giving all green card holders a blanket waiver of the bar to admission. DHS may still prohibit the entry of LPRs if it receives "significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare." The confusion over whether the executive order even applied to LPRs "further proves that not even the Trump administration seemed to understand what the president's order...was supposed to mean for green card holders."
To read more, visit

In Canada, Justin Trudeau Says Refugees Are Welcome

The New York Times (January 28, 2017)
After the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started implementing President Trump's executive order banning the admission of any refugee for 120 days and indefinitely banning the admission of Syrian refugees, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted on Twitter, "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength." Trudeau has made it a priority to increase the admission of Syrian refugees into Canada and, to date, a reported 39,671 refugees have been admitted to Canada since he took office. It is unclear, however, whether Canada will be able to take in any refugees who have been denied access to the United States. Canada already has a long line of refugees awaiting admission into the country.

To read more, visit


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 condition of mixed-status households (that is, households that contain a US citizen and an undocumented resident). The study 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.
To read more, visit

President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration and Refugees

CMS released a breakdown of President Trump’s executive actions on immigration and refugees along with responses to major provisions in each order. CMS concluded that, combined, “the two executive orders on immigration enforcement provide a blueprint to use all available resources and authority to deport as many undocumented persons as possible. This would no doubt lead to an unprecedented separation of families, including families with US-citizen children.” CMS also found that the executive order on refugees will make the United States less secure by giving extremist groups a propaganda tool for recruitment; encourage other nations to abdicate their responsibilities to refugees and other vulnerable populations; and alienate millions of Muslims, both in the United States and abroad, who otherwise would be allies and important sources of counter-terror and law enforcement intelligence. The post includes CMS analysis and resources on these issues, which offer an important, evidence-based counter-narrative to the policies set forth in these executive orders.
To read more visit

Reflections from the Border: On the New President

Fr. Pat Murphy, c.s., Director of the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, writes of the effect that Trump’s election has had on the migrants in his shelter. While the reaction was subdued, “not a single person is optimistic or remotely hopeful that Trump’s election will make their dreams come true.” Fr. Murphy anticipates that the continuous flow of asylum seekers to the US-Mexico border, the increase in shelters, the slow pace of the US asylum process, the standard US rejection of all Mexicans seeking asylum, and Trump’s promised mass deportations will create “a perfect storm for migrants and refugees.” He hopes, however, that Trump’s election will motivate immigrants living in the United States to naturalize and vote in the next presidential election.

To read more, visit

National Catholic Organizations to Speak on Executive Orders that Affect Immigrants and Refugees

CMS, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, USCCB's Migration and Refugee Services and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities will hold a press conference in response to the recent immigration-related executive orders issued by President Trump. The event will give an opportunity for Catholic institutions to analyze how the executive orders may impact the communities they serve. We believe many of these measures are destructive to families and our communities and contrary to Catholic social teaching. We will fight these policies and continue to honor our mission serving immigrants and refugees. The event is scheduled for February 1, 2017 at 11am EST at Casa Italiana (595 3rd Street NW, Washington DC). 

The event will be livestreamed at

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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