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March 20, 2017

Refugees and Immigrants

Welcoming the Stranger in Tough Times

Refugees and Immigrants Video Player

Showing the Refugees and Immigrants: Welcoming the Stranger in Tough Times Video

Currently, our nation is facing difficult moral, economic, and political choices as we decide how to treat refugees and immigrants. The human and legal dimensions of immigration and refugee policy are important, but they also have a common biblical foundation in Matthew 25:35: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

For Christians, this call begins the conversation, but it does not easily reconcile issues of security and openness, of being a nation of law and of immigrants, of respecting the right and dignity of newcomers and the rights and dignity of U.S. workers.

This Dialogue brought together diverse leaders to explore the following questions:

  • What are Catholic and religious teachings on refugees and immigrants? What is the Catholic Church doing and advocating?
  • What are the human, pastoral, and policy impacts of recent executive orders, new policies on deportation, and political rhetoric on these issues?
  • What are the myths and realities on issues of immigration and refugees? What constitute legitimate security, economic, and other concerns, and how can we respond?
  • What can people do to show solidarity and promote just and realistic policies and the common good?


Opening Remarks

Fr. Leo O’Donovan, S.J., president emeritus of Georgetown University, is the interim executive director for Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, which serves refugees in more than 45 countries.

Theological and Pastoral Overview

Bishop Ricardo Ramírez, C.S.B., bishop emeritus of Las Cruces, New Mexico, serves on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration and Refugee Services.

Policy and Personal Perspectives

Alfonso Aguilar is the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. He served as the director of the Office of Citizenship under President George W. Bush.

Aden Batar, a Muslim refugee from Somalia, is the immigration and refugee resettlement director for Catholic Community Services of Salt Lake City.

Ashley Feasley is the director of policy for the Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. She formerly served as the director of advocacy for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).

Luis Gonzalez is a sophomore American studies major at Georgetown University and an advocate for undocumented students. 

This Dialogue was moderated by John Carr, the founder and director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University.