Jesuits respond to Supreme Court decision on immigration law

The U.S. Jesuit Conference, the Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and the Kino Border Initiative welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down three key provisions of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, S.B.1070. In doing so, the Court correctly recognized the federal government’s constitutional authority to regulate immigration.

We are disappointed however that the decision left standing a final provision of the Arizona law, requiring Arizona law enforcement officers to stop and detain without warrant individuals on the sole basis of “reasonable suspicion” of irregular status. We fear this provision places Arizona law enforcement officers at odds with the communities they seek to protect. This decision not only affects all Hispanics in the state of Arizona, but anyone deemed “foreign looking” is subject to detention and interrogation by law enforcement officers of the state. Such laws endanger all residents of Arizona by creating a fear and mistrust of law enforcement and drive immigrant communities further into the shadows by discouraging them from contacting the police when they are victims of crimes.

The Supreme Court’s decision on this provision of the Arizona law acknowledges the potential for future legal challenges, and we are hopeful that the provision will be overturned once the problems associated with it are further documented.

Through the Kino Border Initiative (a cooperative endeavor between six religious organizations, including JRS/USA and two provinces of the Society of Jesus, operating in the twin cities of Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico) we have borne daily witness to the harsh realities of the current broken immigration system. The Jesuit Conference, JRS/USA, and the Kino Border Initiative have long been committed to a humane and comprehensive approach to immigration reform.

In this spirit, we welcome the words of Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, who has said, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision, “The U.S. Catholic bishops across the nation will urge their state governments to not pursue laws such as in Arizona, but rather to pursue humane reform on the federal level. Humane enforcement of our nation’s laws are part of any solution, but enforcement by itself, unjustly administered, only leads to abuses and family breakdown.”

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Rough Road

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Fr. Cyprien, left, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service Katanga (Democratic Republic of Congo) Education project and Fr. Holdcroft, S.J. Regional Director of JRS Southern Africa, tighten up the gear in our vehicle this morning.

JRS has built 14 schools in Katanga province, which borders Zambia. Much of the funding was provided by a grant from the U. S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

As you can see in the images below, the two, yes two, spare tires both came in handy on our drive from Kaputa, Zambia to Mansa, Zambia.

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Dollo Ado

The UNHCR compound in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, less than four kilometers from the troubled & dangerous border of Somalia. In addition to their work on behalf of refugees, UNHCR provides flights for NGO personnel working in the area, and is the primary means of communication to the outside world via their wifi network.

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Somalia refugees in Ethiopia

A young refugee from Somalia at Malkadida refugee camp near Dollo Ado, Ethiopia.

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Jesuit Refugee Service accompanies residents of the camp by providing counseling services, adult literacy classes and a hugely successful youth program with sports and music components. (Christian Fuchs – Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)

Youth Program in Ethiopia’s Mai Aini Refugee Camp

The Jesuit Refugee Service youth program at Mai Aini Refugee Camp in northeastern Ethiopia serves young refugees from neighboring Eritrea. The program provides a library, music and arts training, and opportunities to participate in soccer, volleyball and basketball. JRS works with the primary and secondary schools at the camp to coordinate activities, giving youngsters a chance to participate in social activities after school hours.

 

Mai Aini Basketball Practice

Girls practice basketball during a Jesuit Refugee Service program at Mai Aini refugee camp in Ethiopia, home to 13,500 refugees from Eritrea, June 4, 2012. (Christian Fuchs – Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)