Catholic Relief Services Looks South in the Immigration Debate

Catholic Relief Services Looks South in the Immigration Debate

Agency advocates addressing root causes to alleviate push factors of immigration


BALTIMORE, Aug. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — 
Relief Services (CRS)
the official international humanitarian and development agency of the Catholic
community in the United States, is asking Congress to take a serious look at the
factors driving migration to the U.S. as it considers immigration reform
legislation.  CRS believes that the most effective way to address immigration is
to both reform our current immigration system and reduce the need for high rates
of migration in countries of origin.


believe that the current debate on immigration reform must include a recognition
that migration does not occur in a vacuum or only as a domestic issue. We need
to more effectively respond to the factors that are at the root of migration,
including poverty, lack of public safety and persecution,” said Bill O’Keefe,
Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy for CRS. “It’s not about
stopping migration, but about creating opportunities so that people have
options- including – ‘the right not to migrate’.”


With 80% of the current unauthorized immigration originating in Latin America
particularly Mexico and Central America, CRS recommends that particular
attention be paid to shared regional efforts to address the economic and social
factors driving migration from these countries, with a specific focus on
decreasing rural poverty, vulnerability to displacement after natural disasters
and high youth unemployment.


recommends that common sense immigration reform legislation include:


  • An assessment of the primary factors driving migration to the U.S. from
    countries with the highest rates of unauthorized migration.  This assessment
    should include an analysis of the impact of current U.S. foreign policy and
    assistance on the causes of migration.

  • Development of  a strategy by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the U.S.
    Agency for International Development (USAID) and other federal agencies to
    more effectively target U.S. foreign policy and assistance in addressing
     the economic, social, and security factors driving high rates of
    unauthorized  migration from prioritized countries.

  • Expanded coordination between USAID, relevant U.S government agencies and
    the governments of migrant-sending countries to promote public policies that
    prioritize inclusive growth, poverty reduction and sustainable alternatives
    to emigration.

  • Support of public-private investment and partnerships to promote rural
    development, urban employment and violence reduction.


Latin America, CRS, in partnership with USAID, local civil society and
governments as well as the private sector, is creating new and sustainable
opportunities for families and communities who might otherwise be compelled to
migrate.  CRS programs have improved the living standards of more than 67,000
farm families in eight countries in Latin America since 2007 by helping them to
move from subsistence to agro enterprise farming.  In Nicaragua alone, the
CRS-led Alliance to Create Rural Development Opportunities through
Agroenterprise Relationships (ACORDAR) program has revolutionized how small
coffee and vegetable farmers grow, cooperate and go to market with their
product. This 4-year project created 6,000 new jobs and farmers increased their
net income for vegetable production more than threefold.


has also worked on bi-national efforts with Mexican and U.S. organizations,
including the United Farmworkers, Global Workers and Catholic groups to address
issues in the recruitment of temporary (H2A) farmworkers from Mexico. The
project trained more than 11,000 people to identify and reduce abuses in
farmworker recruitment for U.S. agriculture.  The research and recommendations
from the project are being promoted with the U.S. and Mexican governments to
increase accountability and protect both workers and employers from abusive
recruitment practices.


Migration is a complex phenomenon. In migrant-sending countries, lack of
economic opportunity and insecurity contribute heavily to the decision to
migrate. Responsibility for addressing the root causes of unauthorized migration
rests first with the countries of origin and the need for governments and
societies to create viable opportunities for their people. However, CRS believes
that it is also imperative that the United States re-examine the ways in which
our trade, security, development and international assistance policies impact
migrant-sending countries and can better contribute to sustainable development
and shared regional prosperity. Ultimately, migration is not just an economic,
social or legal issue. It is a moral issue with a human face making the current
status quo unacceptable. We now have a rare chance to enact a balanced policy
that addresses the causes and consequences of migration while supporting
America’s tradition as an immigrant nation. 


About Catholic Relief Services


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of
the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to
people in 91 countries and territories based on need, regardless of race,
nationality or creed. For more information, please visit or


SOURCE  Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services Looks South in the Immigration Debate