June 30, 2014

CWS Responds to President Obama's Announcements on Immigration

WASHINGTON — Today, President Barack Obama made two announcements regarding immigration policies: a letter to Congressional leadership on the administration’s response to the increase in unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America, and a speech indicating future administrative action on immigration in light of House Republicans' failure to pass legislation.

The Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service, released the following statement:

The President’s announcements today conflate two distinctly separate crises: the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America and the urgent need for administrative relief from deportation for 11 million aspiring Americans.

We are pleased that President Obama wrote to Congressional leadership asking for necessary additional funding to meet the needs of unaccompanied children. However, we are outraged that the President asked Congress to change current law to allow the administration to expedite the deportation of these children. This is a moral disgrace. We condemn the administration's proposal for its emphasis on removing, detaining and denying these children access to life-saving protection.

CWS strongly urges the administration to provide unaccompanied children the screening, services and status required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. This is a regional humanitarian crisis that should not be mixed with U.S. border policies. Asylum requests by Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans seeking refuge in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize have increased by 712 percent since 2009. We should be responding as humanitarians to these children, not deporting them at a faster pace as the President has urged.

As it has become abundantly clear that House Republicans will not act on immigration reform during this Congressional session, CWS supports the President’s openness to executive action to address the 11 million aspiring Americans, but we have yet to hear what this action might look like. CWS will continue to urge President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security to take concrete, bold action to suspend deportations, end the Secure Communities program, and allow all undocumented individuals to apply for deferred action. These actions would greatly benefit families, congregations and communities across the U.S.