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 18, 2017

Migration, Refugee Section of New Dicastery, Led by Pope Francis, Launches 1st Media Campaign to Coincide with the 103rd World Day for Migrants and Refugees

ZENIT (January 12, 2017)
Under the leadership of Pope Francis, the Migration and Refugee Section of the new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development launched its first media campaign to coincide with the 103rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees on January 15, 2017. Pope Francis reportedly wished to take leadership of the Migration & Refugee Section "to show his particular concern during the ongoing refugee crisis." Between January 12th and 15th, Pope Francis tweeted daily (in English, Italian, Spanish, and French) about refugees and migrants and included a direct link to the Section's Facebook page, which included a story and reflection for the daily topic.
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The Bible: the Perfect Primer on Immigration Law for Senator Sessions (Blog)

Challenge & Response: Chicago Theological Seminary (January 10, 2017)
President-elect, Donald Trump, nominated Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama for the position of Attorney General of the United States. This past week the US Senate held confirmation hearings for Senator Sessions. In this blog, Rev. Craig B. Mousin of the Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ in Chicago writes that Senator Sessions often witnesses his faith in public life and relies on biblical scripture to justify his stance on restricting immigration and increasing deportation. Rev. Mousin asks: What if today's US immigration laws were in effect during biblical times? And what if the Bible's protagonists were subject to the US immigration system’s civil and criminal penalties? Rev. Mousin concludes that the biblical heroes and heroines would have been deported and therefore unable to become leaders in the church. He writes, "Strictly enforcing our immigration laws would deprive the world of any biblical narrative for personal faith or for its contributions to law and morality for the last two thousand years. Deporting or excluding all the major protagonists of the Bible would leave Senator Sessions without one pillar of his life, as no Bible story would exist to guide him."
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El Paso Day of Dignity and Solidarity

Hope Border Institute/Instituto Fronterizo Esperanza (January 10, 2017)
The Mayor and City Council of El Paso, Texas declared January 10th as "El Paso Day of Dignity and Solidarity." The proclamation recognizes that El Paso is a diverse border community characterized by "the virtues of hard work, sacrifice, cooperation, charity and mutual respect." It also acknowledges that a healthy community depends on "the principles of civility, economy, tolerance, dialogue and understanding" and called on El Pasoans to "resist the tendency to allow fear to justify the creation of walls and divisions, xenophobia, the degrading of women, the marginalization of those struggling with poverty, the scapegoating of minorities, the demeaning of those with disabilities, the mistreatment of the LGBTQ community and intolerance toward any people because of their religious beliefs." Mayor Oscar Leeser was joined by Bishop Mark Seitz as well as City Council members and leaders of the Hope Border Institute, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, and Annunciation House (a shelter for migrants and refugees). The El Paso County Commissioner’s Court is also set to approve a resolution in support of migrants and refugees. It outlines principles that “oppose oppression or intimidation, promote inclusiveness, praise local law enforcement for not enforcing federal immigration laws and support efforts in Congress to enact immigration reform.”
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Prayers of Light: A Call to Prayer for Immigrants

Ignatian Solidarity Network (January 2017)
The Ignatian Solidarity Network (IGN) invites people to stand in solidarity with immigrants by participating in prayers of light vigils around the United States on January 19, 2017 – the eve of the presidential inauguration. IGN states, "We offer these symbols of light as signs of solidarity for those who may be forced into the shadows of our nation. Through action and solidarity, we hope to illuminate the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each individual's contribution to this country."  
To learn more about Prayers of Light for Immigrants and where vigils will be held, visit

US Border Officials are Illegally Turning Away Asylum Seekers, Critics Say

Washington Post (January 16, 2017)
If a Border Patrol agent encounters a US bound migrant without authorization to enter the United States and the migrant expresses fear of being returned to their home country, the agent is required to process them for an interview with an asylum officer. Migrants and immigration lawyers and advocates report, however, that “hundred or perhaps thousands” of foreign nationals have been blocked from reaching US asylum officials along the border. While details vary, numerous asylum seekers at the US border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego have been referred to Mexican authorities for an appointment with US officials but Mexican authorities have often turned them down. In other places, migrants have been told by US border agents that the daily quota for asylum cases had been reached or that a visa was required. On Friday, January 13th, the American Immigration Council with five other organizations filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties protesting the “systemic denial of entry to asylum seekers.”

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The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also found continuing violations of the law by border authorities and detailed their findings in a recent report, “Barriers to Protection: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal.” In an episode of CMSOnAir, Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, USCIRF Chair and senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, discusses the report including violations of the law and legal procedures by border officials, US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ reliance on virtual interviews, the importance of legal representation in asylum cases, and the detention of mothers and children. Fr. Reese also discusses the global crisis in refugee protection and the proposals to deny the admission of refugees based on religion and nationality.
To listen, visit

Obama's Last Big Cuba Move (Comment)

The New Yorker (January 13, 2017)
On January 12th, the Obama Administration announced that it was ending the decades-old "wet-foot-dry-foot" policy regarding migrants from Cuba. Under this policy, Cubans who arrived on US soil were permitted to remain in the United States and, after one year, apply for permanent residency. Cubans picked up at sea trying to make it to the United States, however, were returned back to Cuba. With the end of the policy, Cuban nationals will be treated the same as other immigrants entering the United States and will receive no special treatment permitting them to remain in the country. Cubans who arrive in the United States will now have to demonstrate – like all other immigrants – that they are eligible to remain in the United States; otherwise they will be deported back to Cuba. Staff writer, Jon Lee Anderson, writes that Obama's end to the long-standing policy is intended in part to support his Administration's historic rapprochement with Cuba and to stem the surge of Cubans migrating to the United States since diplomatic relations were re-established between the two countries.
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What We Can Learn From The ‘Little Mogadishu’ Migrant Hub

Refugees Deeply (January 6, 2017)
Since the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Somalis have fled Somalia and many of them have ended up in the Eastleigh section of Nairobi, Kenya. So many Somalis have come to the area bringing economic and demographic change that the area is now known as "Little Mogadishu." The neighborhood has grown into a local and regional commercial hub. Nevertheless, some view Little Mogadishu as a dangerous place built on money-laundering and connected to terrorist organizations like al-Shabaab. Although Little Mogadishu offers insight into how the “refugee crisis” and the “war on terror” are blurring into each other, author Neil Carrier writes that the area also "offers a different take on migration by showing how, out of displacement, opportunity can emerge, for refugees and migrants and for their host communities."
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Boko Haram Still a Threat to Refugees in Cameroon

IRIN (January 11, 2017)
Since 2009, the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, has been leading an insurgency to overthrow the Nigerian government and replace it with an Islamic state. According to this report, approximately 60,000 Nigerians fled to Cameroon's Minawao refugee camp. Located in the arid and rocky Far North Region, the camp is an inhospitable home with insufficient food, water, and firewood and inadequate healthcare and overcrowded classrooms. There is also limited land to cultivate crops to supplement food. In addition, there is no psychosocial support for victims of Boko Haram violence, and protections for children and against gender-violence are weak. With Boko Haram having crossed the border from Nigeria into Cameroon, some fear that Boko Haram sympathizers are among the refugee population. This, in turn, "has sometimes impeded [the refugees'] access to asylum and affected screenings and status determination procedures.” Although the Nigerian and Cameroonian governments believe the war is almost over, the International Crisis Group has found that the “structural problems that allowed this threat to arise have not been addressed.”
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Ahmed Hussen: From Somali Refugee to Canada's Parliament

BBC (January 14, 2017)
In 1993, when he was 16-years-old, Ahmed Hussen fled war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia to seek refuge in Canada. Hussen grew up to become a lawyer and social activist. And this past week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named him the new Minister of Immigration for Canada, replacing John McCallum. Hussen is now responsible for overseeing the agency that determines which foreign nationals can enter and remain in Canada.
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.
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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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