Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

CNS photo/Shawn Thew/EPA
Immigration advocates demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., in this Dec. 30, 2015, file photo.

Washington, DC

USCCB, other faith groups file Supreme Court brief in immigration case

By CAROL ZIMMERMANN, Catholic News Service | Published March 18, 2016

WASHINGTON (CNS)—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and several other Catholic organizations joined in filing friend of the court briefs March 8 urging the Supreme Court to support the Obama administration’s actions that would temporarily protect from deportation more than 4 million immigrants in the country illegally and enable some immigrants to legally work in the United States.

Immigration guidelines that defer the deportation of millions of people provide “substantial humanitarian benefits” and should be permitted to stand, said the brief filed by the U.S. bishops and 24 other faith-based organizations.

Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC, similarly joined an amicus brief with more than 325 immigration groups, civil rights, labor and social service organizations in urging the court to uphold the Obama administration’s executive actions. At least three Catholic colleges also joined an amicus brief with more than 75 education and children’s advocacy organizations.

Other briefs were filed by House Democrats and a group of more than 60 entrepreneurs and business leaders including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The briefs were filed in the case United States v. Texas, which comes before the court April 18. The eight justices will consider if the Obama administration was entitled to shield a group of immigrants in the country without legal permission from deportation. The program had been put on hold last November by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, upholding a Texas-based federal judge’s injunction against Obama’s actions.

Brief speaks of adverse impacts of family separation, detention on children

In 2015, President Barack Obama’s executive actions expanded a 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and created the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, known as DAPA. The USCCB supported the plan and CLINIC, an umbrella organization for Catholic legal services providers, was among 224 organizations that filed a joint brief urging the Supreme Court to take the current case.

The brief signed by the U.S. bishops, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, other groups of women religious and other faith organizations stressed that faith plays a “significant role in the lives of most recent migrants and their families” and that faith-based organizations have played a leading role in serving their needs.

These faith-based groups, the brief said, not only help immigrant communities but also include many of them in their congregations.

Through their work, the brief points out, these faith-based groups have a “unique and firsthand knowledge of the adverse impacts that family separation, immigration detention and deportation have on immigrant families in the U.S., particularly young children.”

The brief cited Scripture references about the need to care for strangers and also said that even though the groups that signed together might disagree on some issues, they “each support the vital interests of immigrants and refugees who are so seriously disserved by the preliminary injunction that is the subject of this court’s review.”

The brief signed by CLINIC and other immigration groups noted that lifting the injunction on immigrant families will make many of them more secure “without the looming threat that loved ones will be deported at a moment’s notice.”

It also said the president’s executive action would give many immigrants “access to better jobs and the ability to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities.”

The brief signed by educational advocates, including DePaul University in Chicago, Trinity Washington University and the University of San Francisco, pointed out that the expanded DACA and new DAPA programs would alleviate the harm caused by family separation, reduce the risk of children entering the child welfare system, and enable individuals to pursue expanded educational and professional opportunities.