Three Jesuit Organizations Make Policy Recommendations for Immigration Reform

A new study, “Documented Failures: The Consequences of Immigration Policy on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” released today by the Jesuit Conference, the Kino Border Initiative and Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, is bringing to light incidents of excessive use of force and abuse of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

The comprehensive report details incidents of physical and verbal abuse suffered by migrants both at the hands of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican police, and through attacks by human traffickers, robbers and gangs. Additionally, the study highlights the stories of migrants separated from family members and those who have been sexually assaulted by criminals, left for dead in the desert and then denied medical care byU.S.border agents.

The report is a result of a collaboration spearheaded by The Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a bi-national ministry of the Jesuits, the largest order of priests and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church. Offering humanitarian assistance and food at itsAidCenterfor Deported Migrants in the border town ofNogales,Mexico, KBI noted a disturbing increase in the frequency of migrants’ accounts of mistreatment. In response, KBI, along with Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the Jesuit Conference, undertook a study to document migrant experiences at the border and to make concrete policy recommendations toU.S.and Mexican authorities. The research and analysis was funded by Catholic Relief Services of Mexico.

Calling for broad reform and the need for professionalism in the U.S. Border Patrol, the three organizations made policy recommendations in the report based on the analysis of data drawn from surveys that KBI conducted of migrants visiting its aid center as well as data from the Mexican government’s own Northern Border International Migration Survey. Michael Danielson, a Ph.D. candidate in political science atAmericanUniversity, interviewed migrants inNogalesand evaluated the survey responses for the study.

The policy recommendations include: limiting family separation during the deportation process; reuniting families that have mixed legal statuses and are split between theU.S.andMexicoor Central America; reducing violence against migrants inMexicoand Central America; and curbing abuse by the U.S. Border Patrol and local police inMexico.

“We, as Jesuits, because of our commitment to educating the children of migrants in our schools, serving migrant communities in our parishes and offering deported men, women and children food and shelter on the border, see firsthand the costs of our current immigration laws,” said Jesuit Father Thomas Greene, secretary for Social and International Ministries at the Jesuit Conference.

Urging elected officials to “place family unity, human dignity, transparency and accountability at the center of their debates,” KBI, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the Jesuit Conference support the Senate’s recent bipartisan efforts to improve the nation’s broken immigration system.

The report may be accessed at

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