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The Jesuit network opposes the SAFE Act, and urges Congress to do so as well. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
(Washington, D.C.) October 16, 2013 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA believes compassion should never be criminalized, but there is an immigration bill in the House of Representatives that would do just that, placing members of our communities at risk. 

If enacted, the so-called SAFE Act would criminalize those who "transport, move, harbor or shield" a refugee, asylum seeker or anyone whose immigration status has lapsed. We are called by our faith and by Catholic social teaching to enact generosity, hospitality, welcome, and solidarity with the poor and marginalized. 

We cannot support a bill that seeks to restrict these acts.

For information about the many other problems with the SAFE Act, see the letter below that Jesuit Refugee Service/USA sent to all members of the House of Representatives, and then, TAKE ACTION TODAY.

__________________________________________________

Dear Members of the U.S. House of Representatives,

We write you today to strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 2278, the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act or SAFE Act. This bill contains provisions that would criminalize compassion, threaten community safety, and deny critical protection to vulnerable people fleeing persecution.

In particular, we are concerned that:

• Title I would expand the role of state and local law enforcement agencies in enforcing federal immigration law. Granting states and localities full authority to create, implement, and enforce immigration laws without federal oversight could lead to racial profiling and discrimination. Those who “look undocumented,” including refugees and asylees, would be subject to law enforcement stops, arrests, and detention. This approach decreases public safety by jeopardizing the trust between law enforcement and immigrant and refugee communities.

• Section 107 requires DHS to add additional detention facilities to its already expansive network. This expansion could increase the number of asylum seekers behind bars and families who are separated. It also signals a move backward to increased detention with high human and financial costs, rather than toward more humane and cost-effective alternatives.

• Sections 202 and 203 worsens an existing problem in which an overly broad definition of terrorist activity causes people who present no security risk to be denied life-saving protection because they have been mislabeled as “terrorists” under the expansive law. This includes individuals who were forced to provide money or services to armed groups or terrorists or who supported freedom fighters rising up against the most repressive regimes in the world.

• Section 310 eliminates current prohibitions on indefinite immigration detention. Many individuals seeking protection in the United States from persecution and torture in their home countries would be directly harmed by these changes. Stateless individuals in particular often spend significant lengths of time in immigration detention as a result of their lack of nationality.

• Section 314 criminalizes assistance to vulnerable migrants by members of our communities. This includes volunteers, community members, friends and even family members who "transport, move, harbor or shield" a refugee, asylum seeker or anyone whose immigration status has lapsed. Jesuit parish, high school, college and university communities all over the country include these individuals, and Jesuit social ministries serve them. We are called by our faith and by Catholic social teaching to enact generosity, hospitality, welcome, and solidarity with the poor and marginalized. We cannot support a bill that seeks to restrict these acts.

The Jesuit network opposes the SAFE Act, and urges Congress to do so as well. It is our hope and prayer that members of Congress can work together to create real solutions to our broken immigration system rather than continuing to create policies that harm the most vulnerable among us.

Sincerely,

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA


Take Action Today 

Call your Representative today to say NO to the SAFE Act

Call 1-866-940-2439 or the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or find your Representative at http://www.house.gov

Feel free to use this sample script:

I am from City, State, Congregation/Community and as a person of faith, I support immigration reform.  

I urge the Representative to OPPOSE the so-called "SAFE Act" (H.R. 2278), which would:

• criminalize faith groups that provide assistance to all individuals, regardless of their immigration status,

• negatively impact refugees, asylum seekers and others fleeing persecution,

• expand mandatory and indefinite detention, and

• encourage racial profiling and harm community safety.

Please instead support immigration reform that reunites families & creates a path to citizenship.


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