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Immigration & Refugee Services Update March 2021

With the recent change of administration in Washington, new executive orders, agency policies, and legislative reforms affecting immigrants and refugees have been issued or proposed. We expect more in the months to come, as lawmakers continue to search for pathways that respond to the needs of immigrant families, workers, refugees, and children. This page will offer basic information on the most relevant immigration changes and issues that touch the communities we serve; it also will provide access to useful Catholic Charities resources and materials as well as helpful links to external sources. 

Much of the work in the administration’s first months has been focused on realigning traditional migration and enforcement policies. These include halting family separation, recommitting to the DACA program, offering Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan nationals, suspending the construction of the border wall, restoring refugee processing, and ensuring all are counted in the 2020 Census, to name a few. Please refer to our up-to-date summary and digest for more information. 

A few immigration reform proposals are now being considered in Washington as well.  They mostly attempt to create pathways to citizenship—some that may take up to 14 years—for individuals who have worked and helped build America, who worked in the frontlines of the pandemic, or who were brought here as children by their parents. These reform proposals are guided by ideas that the Biden Administration introduced earlier this year in a separate bill in Congress—called the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021—which proposes a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented, expands family reunification, relaxes harsh exclusion rules, improves due process and the court system, and enhances labor, worker, and workforce protections and flow. 

Catholic Charities’ work in New York has always had a close connection to migration at the southern border, as each day we assist those who have made their way north to our state, whether they are asylum seekers, families seeking to reunify, or unaccompanied children who have escaped violence and persecution. 

With the challenges brought by instability and inequity throughout the world, maintaining an orderly, safe, and humane immigration system in our land is important, as is preserving the dignity, providing help, and creating hope for generations who will help build our country. This is the mission we are committed to, as we support and preserve America’s legacy and advance our future.  

Sincerely,

Mario Russell Esq.
Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services