Strangers No Longer

In the midst of the national conversation on the humane treatment of migrants and refugees, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone released the following statement on the importance of protecting the rights of refugees and migrants, highlighting the important legal and humanitarian work of Catholic Charities within the Archdiocese.

As communities committed to providing sanctuary to migrants, San Francisco and California are duty-bound to welcome immigrants and find opportunities for them to thrive here, no matter how they arrive at our doorstep. Let us not forget that Christian charity makes no distinctions regarding legal status when it comes to providing humanitarian aid to those in need.

As the U.S. and Mexican bishops stated in their 2003 joint pastoral letter, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the United States needs comprehensive immigration reform. The principles outlined in the letter include the right of a nation to secure its borders and for people to stay and thrive in their homelands, but also that asylum seekers have a right to seek haven.

The U.S. is morally obliged to protect those seeking refuge from harm. As a nation of immigrants, and from each of our experiences in daily life, we know migrants give back to the U.S. by becoming integral to our communities, economy and legacy. At the same time, Congress and the President are required to secure our borders so that our nation can control and create a viable immigration system.

As we grapple with this crisis, I endorse the initiative of New York Mayor Eric Adams who proposes that the federal government allow states to issue work visas. The current federal system only allows migrants seeking asylum to obtain a work permit after six months, and the reality is it often takes a year or more to obtain a work permit. This burdens state and local welfare systems designed to take care of those who cannot work and deprives migrants eager to work of the opportunity to work using the skills they bring with them from their home countries.

As it has done for decades, the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Catholic Charities Center for Immigration Legal & Support Services (CILSS), advocates for and is committed to supporting migrants in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties and helping resolve the immigration crisis. CILSS provides both legal representation and case management support for individuals seeking asylum and victims of trafficking or violent crimes. As with all migrants who come to the Center, Catholic Charities provides consultations and determines what support is available. Additionally, Catholic Charities’ 25 social service programs provide rental assistance, problem-solving resources and referrals in our community, shelter waitlist opportunities and case management support services. Catholic Charities programs serve everyone in our community with compassion, respect, and understanding.

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Photos by Dennis Callahan, Archdiocese of San Francisco, from a Mass for immigration in 2017.