[NEW] Is Amnesty A Dirty Word? [JustSouth E-News, October 2014]

by Sue Weishar, Ph.D.

    How is it that in Louisiana, a state with a rapidly diminishing coastline, the highest incarceration rate in the world, and a crumbling infrastructure, “amnesty” for “illegal aliens” is the issue dominating political ads in the U.S. Senate race? This in the same state that announced a tax amnesty for delinquent taxpayers on September 12. In April the New Orleans Municipal Court announced an amnesty plan to encourage thousands of residents to come to court to avoid being arrested on outstanding misdemeanor warrants. Amnesty is a time-tested public policy strategy to clean the slate and give people a fresh start. Why has “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants become such a dirty word? 

   Anyone with a working set of eyeballs could see that Latino workers were essential to the state’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Although at the time no one was very interested in asking about the legal status of the workers doing the dirty, dangerous work of digging south Louisiana out of the smelly gray muck that blanketed the region, researchers from Tulane and Berkeley universities did inquire. They found that half the reconstruction workforce at the height of disaster recovery in March 2006 was Latino, and that half of those workers were undocumented. You might think that a state that has benefited so substantially from the labor of undocumented immigrants might be more open to the concept of amnesty. Instead we’ve opted for amnesia. MORE>>

A Lesson in Compassion: Catholic Teach-In on the Child Migrant Crisis and Its Causes [JustSouth Quarterly, Fall 2014]

by Sue Weishar, P.h.D

Children and families fleeing violence and impunity in Central America this past summer evoked a wide range of responses from the American public. At one end of the spectrum, images of poor migrants clinging to trains headed to the U.S. and hundreds of Latino children sleeping on the floors of Border Patrol processing centers struck fear and anger in the hearts of Americans with nativist tendencies, reactions stoked by fear-mongering talk show hosts and politicians.[1] Protesters in Murrieta, California, and McEllen, Texas, denounced child refugees as invaders and criminals.[2] Although all children apprehended at the border are screened and vaccinated at state-licensed shelters before being reunited with family members,3 pundits and politicians irresponsibly fanned fears child migrants would spread communicable diseases, including ebola.[4] MORE>>

On August 5, 2014 the Jesuit Social Research Institute held the Catholic Teach-In on the Child Refugee Crisis and Its Causes. If you were unable to join us please take a look at some of the media coverage this event received. 

TIME Magazine

Michael's Journey

The Times-Picayune 

Catholics hear refugees explain why they fled Central America 

The Advocate 

N.O. a hub for Honduran children fleeing violence


JSRI'S Catholic and Jesuit Perspective on Migration

During the last twenty years, and especially following Hurricane Katrina, there has been a significant increase in the numbers of migrants – both documented and undocumented – in the southern states. More and more immigrants are settling into nontraditional urban and rural receiving communities in the South, where the Hispanic population more than doubled during the 1990’s. The Jesuit Social Research Institute seeks to provide practical, collaborative participatory action research, social analysis, theological reflection, and advocacy related to the issue of migration in the Gulf South in collaboration with Jesuit social and migration networks, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Catholic diocesan ministries serving immigrants in the Gulf South, and other advocates.  Our Catholic faith is deeply rooted in the experience of migration.  More



Kids in Crisis: The surge of unaccompanied immigrant children to the border --Weishar

"We Belong To Each Other": Forgetting Our Oneness at a Town Hall Meeting -- Weishar 

Of Tears and Terror: Families Torn Apart By Community Raids in the New Orleans Area-- Weishar

When Italians Were "Others" --Weishar


Honduran Agony: The Spiral of Violence and Corruption-- Weishar & Baudouin

Keep "Thanks" in Thanksgiving-- Weishar

One Family Under God: Witnessing for Immigration Reform-- Weishar 

Border Visions and Immigration Reform-- Weishar 

Immigration Reform in Retrospect: Lessons Learned, Lives Changed--Weishar

Refining the Numbers: New Estimates of Unauthorized Immigrants in the U.S.--Weishar

Strangers No Longer: Catholic Teachings on Immigration Reform--Weishar

The "Latino Giant” chooses Obama: An analysis of the 2012 Latino vote--Weishar

"Impossible Subjects" with Impossible Choices--Weishar

Hope for Undocumented Youth--Weishar

A Legacy of “Cussedness”: Update on Alabama’s Harsh Immigration Enforcement Laws -- Weishar

Mississippi Rejects Immigration Enforcement Bill--Weishar

Immigration Enforcement Bill Fails to Pass in Mississippi, None Proposed in Louisiana Legislature -- Weishar

Not Good Law or Good Sense: Proposed Mississippi Immigration Legislation Through the Lens of Catholic Social Teaching -- Weishar

So Help Us God: Life, Death, and Voting Rights in the Texas Colonias--Michael Seifert

View all Migration articles »

 Related links

Banner Photo by John Moore