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"the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - MLK 

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Note: The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the authors' and should not be ascribed to the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes or its members. On August 5, 2021, we archived old blog posts. You can find the archive by clicking here.


Archive for the "Trafficking/Immigration" Category

World Day of Migrants and Refugees is September 24

September 21, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Quotation from Pope Francis: Migration involves a twofold right the right not to migrate the the right to migrate...l the world has not yet realized the migratoin is a human right.

The 2023 theme for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) is “Free to Choose Whether to Migrate or to Stay.” In his message for this day, Pope Francis focuses on “the freedom that should always mark the decision to leave one’s native land.” What can we do and what do we need to stop doing so that people are not forced to migrate? “We need to make every effort to halt the arms race, economic colonialism, the plundering of other people’s resources and the devastation of our common home.” Click here to read his entire message. 

Support the DACA Police Bill

September 07, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The "DACA Police Bill" (Senate Bill 78/Assembly Bill 51) has bipartisan support in the Wisconsin legislature. The law would make it possible for youth participating in the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to work for their local sheriff's office and police force. These individuals are allowed to work in the US and may even be able to join the state police. Simply put, the bill would repeal an odd provision that prevents non-citizens from serving as municipal law enforcement officials. 

The DACA Police Bill is a modest but positive move. Additionally, it might be quite helpful for some families and law enforcement. You could assist with this: If you live in Wisconsin, you can find your State Senator by entering your address in the "Who Are My Legislators?" field on the Wisconsin State Legislature Home Page. Call them and ask them to support the "DACA Police Bill" also known as SB78.

Additionally, it appears that in the near future, the legislature may seriously explore allowing undocumented individuals to apply for driver's licenses (as many other states permit). That measure, which also receives strong bipartisan support, could gain some steam if the DACA Police Bill succeeds in getting passed.


CSA Associate Tutors People Seeking Citizenship

August 17, 2023
By Kelly Robe

During an Associate pilgrimage trip to the border in 2019, Wanda Roehl learned about the civic, historic, geographic, and constitutional facts people need to know to pass a U.S. citizenship test, as well as the importance of hope as many immigrants in the U.S. think citizenship is beyond them, out of reach. This newfound understanding would grow into a new ministry.  

In August 2021, Wanda contacted the Fox Valley Literacy Council and requested to tutor someone working toward their citizenship test. FVLC had a 3-class orientation about the people they would meet, what they needed to know, and that this is approximately a one-year commitment. Wanda met with Ren once per week for an hour at the Menasha public library. Ren worked nights cleaning hotel rooms, and always took her workbook with her to read and do homework during lunches and breaks. At times she used an app to look up words due to different variants of Spanish spoken in her country of origin, the Dominican Republic.

One of Ren’s greatest challenges was anxiety: out of ten test questions, she would need to get six right. Which questions would be asked? Would she know the answers? Would she be able to express the answer in a way that showed she knew what she was talking about? At each meeting, Wanda roleplayed being the tester, shaking Ren’s hand, asking her to introduce herself, and asking introductory questions like, “Were you able to find your way well enough?”   Wanda brought items to visualize lessons: a world map, the American flag, tree clip art for the three branches of government, and money to learn about different presidents. 

Wanda found this to be an enriching experience. “I got more out of this than what I put into it. It’s so rewarding.  When Ren was taking her test I was so nervous, it was like waiting for a child to be born. Your heart is in it, and you want this for them so badly. You know how it will change their life.”  Tutoring caused her to see immigration in a different light. “They’re not a number waiting at the border. They’re here in our communities, they become real to us, and we get to know them.  Ren is my friend.”  

Wanda is also a pen pal for an ESL class of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders at a local school. These kids are from ten different countries and speak fifteen different languages. Every 3-4 weeks, she writes about something that happened in her life (e.g. two grandkids receiving hedgehogs at Easter) and then asks questions for the ESL students to respond. “I appreciate how difficult it is to learn English; I appreciate their effort and how they don’t give up. The kids may not be able to spell the best, but they’re always working at it.”  

As a CSA Associate, Wanda exemplifies Love in Action. “I’m living my charism. I’m using my abilities to teach, write, and interact with children and people from different countries to do the things I’m meant to do.”

Learn more about this topic:



10,000 Signatures Needed from Catholic Advocates

August 03, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

NETWORK and its Catholic coalition partners, including Hope Border Institute and Kino Border Initiative, have a sign-on letter asking Senators and key House members to divest from programs that militarize the border and criminalize immigrants and divest in programs that support immigrants and communities that are providing care for them. 10,000 individual signatures are needed from Catholic advocates like YOU!

This letter will be delivered on the Hill on September 12 to Senate leadership, appropriations committee leads, and key Democratic Senators who need our urging to do that right thing. 

You may read the letter here 

Sign the letter here.

The goal is to get 10,000 signatures to attract strong press coverage and show lawmakers everywhere that Catholics do love their neighbors and believe in justice for immigrants at our Southern Border and across the country. Signatures are due Thursday, August 31. Please share this information far and wide! 


Sound of Freedom comes to Community Church in Fond du Lac

August 03, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Community Church will be showing the movie, Sound of Freedom (rated PG-13) on August 16 at 6 p.m. 

Cost is $8 per ticket until August 14, $11 after August 14. 

Sound of Freedom, based on the incredible true story of Tim Ballard (founder of Operation Underground Railroad) shines a light on even the darkest of places. After rescuing a young boy from ruthless child traffickers, a federal agent learns the boy’s sister is still captive and decides to embark on a dangerous mission to save her. With time running out, he quits his job and journeys deep into the Colombian jungle, putting his life on the line to free her from a fate worse than death. You can watch the official trailer here.


After the movie the Lieutenant from Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Dept.(who oversees the anti-trafficking division) will briefly share and take questions. Nancy Irizarry-Beachy, co-chair of the Wisconsin Anti-Human Trafficking Consortium, will also be there to share and take questions. ASTOP will also be available after the presentation.

For more information, visit Sound of Freedom Showing |


Dominican Sister celebrates 20 years of Aids Orphans Sewing Project

July 20, 2023
By Valerie Graczyk

Twenty years ago, Sister Stella had the opportunity to visit Tanzania, East Africa. There, she met young girls who were born into abject poverty and the ravages of AIDS orphaned them. They had no family, no money, no dowry, and no prospects for the future. “They were perfect prey for those who would exploit them,” Stella states.

Without some form of outside intervention, these girls remained prime targets for human traffickers. Upon her return to Fond du Lac, WI, Sister Stella decided to take action. She was able to create a unique partnership called “The AIDS Orphan Sewing Project” which is part of the St. Maria Goretti Organization of the Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus located in Bokuba, Tanzania. The girls are now able to attend school for 3 years, receive room and board, learn to sew, and gain other valuable skills such as in computing. With a way to earn an income they become self-reliant, not prey for traffickers who would kidnap, sell, and abuse them. 

Currently there are sixty girls in the program. Every year Sister Stella fundraises to keep the Aids Orphans fed, educated, and supplied with thread, cloth, scissors, and needles. A treadle sewing machine is presented to each girl when she graduates. Stella reports that over five hundred girls have graduated since the start of the program. She shares, “As I look back over these 20 years, I hope in some way I have inspired others to act when they see a need. Something as simple as a sewing machine can change a girl from being sexually trafficked. Many of these girls have been hired to mend and sew school uniforms. They have been able to support their siblings and pay for their education.”

“I could not have kept the AIDS Orphan project going without the generosity of donors and grants. Local organizations, individuals, churches, and families make up our donors. It has been heartwarming to know people care and want to help. One sewing machine costs $250, “continued Sister Stella.

Sex trafficking of women and children is a multi billion-dollar business and it occurs right here in our community and state. The United States is one of the top destinations for human trafficking and is among the largest consumers of child sex. “Empowering girls to earn a living and get an education is the best way to prevent the trauma of sexual abuse,” continued Sister Stella.

Sister Stella will be transitioning to an advisory role in managing the AIDS Orphan Sewing Project. Her dear friend, Tracy Abler, will step into overseeing the project. “I am very humbled and grateful this program has successfully prevented young girls from being trafficked. Tracy will do an excellent job of continuing this legacy of caring,” shared Sister Stella. “I cannot think of a better use of my time in protecting these young girls and now it is time to ensure it continues. I welcome Tracy and will be available to support her!”

To learn more about the sewing project, visit:

Read the article in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is observed annually on July 30

July 20, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was established by the U.N. General Assembly in 2013 through the adoption of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. 

This year’s theme is “Reach Every Victim of Trafficking, Leave No One Behind.” You are invited to observe this day - July 30 - by learning about what is happening globally and how religious are working to make a difference. There are numerous resources to consider:

  1. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has released its seventh Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. This edition gives a snapshot of trafficking patterns and flows detected during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  2. Talitha Kum, the global umbrella network of sisters, allies, and partners working to address human trafficking, has released its annual activities report. It is rich in data, stories, testimonies, and critical analyses. It indicates that climate change and conflicts increase vulnerability to human trafficking.
  3. In the July issue of the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) newsletter, Stop Trafficking,” learn which 12 companies made the Dirty Dozen list for facilitating, enabling, and even profiting from sexual abuse and exploitation. The full newsletter can be found here. CSA is a member of USCSAHT and sponsor of this newsletter.
  4. Read or listen to this article explaining how Human Trafficking is directly linked to forced migration, based on this webinar featuring a panel of experts.

After Title 42: What’s Next?

July 06, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The Immigration Working Group of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph hosted an hour-long session that included immigration policy updates, stories from the border, and how we are called to move forward toward a just, welcoming, and human immigration process.  Featured speakers are Guerline Jozef from Haitian Bridge Alliance and Zoe Martens from Kino Border Initiative. Watch the recording.

Restoring Asylum and Dignity for Immigrants: The Work Ahead

July 06, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

When you know better, you do better. Help influence immigration policies and stabilize conditions at the border so that all immigrants can access robust care and services by attending NETWORK’s webinar, “Restoring Asylum and Dignity for Immigrants: The Work Ahead” on Wednesday, July 12th at 6 pm. RSVP NOW. A recording will be sent to registrants, so be sure to register even if you cannot attend. 

In the webinar, immigration partners from Lawyers for Good Government at the Matamoras-Brownsville border and Kino Border Initiative from the Nogales, Arizona-Mexico border will share the realities of working for justice at the southern border, and tell faith-filled justice-seekers what is needed to support immigration services.

Aside from the webinar, Sister Eileen Mahoney, CSA reports that she continues to volunteer at Casa Alitas in Tucson, Arizona, where 500+ asylum seekers are welcomed daily. She shares, “The challenges are many, but the blessings are greater.”


“God’s Children Are Not For Sale”

July 06, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The title of the film, Sound of Freedom, is best understood throughout the movie when children were free from slavery and able to express happy sounds through song and instrument. This was one of Associate Barb Ricklef’s lasting impressions from the film. Similarly, Sister Mary Rose Obholz shares, “ I took from the movie, a deep sense of the sacred heart beating for those who are suffering from the inhumanity of so many. The sacred heart beats with a love that moves to face the dangerous with courage and determination!” Indeed this was displayed in the character of Tim Ballard, the special agent who dedicated his life to saving trafficked children, and for his wife, Katherine, who was incredibly supportive and instrumental in his heroic rescue operation of 54 trafficked victims. 

For Sister Ruth Battaglia, she shares, “One of the statements from the movie that haunts me is that children are lucrative to traffickers because the sale of a child is not a one-time event. A child may be ‘sold’ over and over again, including multiple times per day. It is also very disturbing that the U.S. is the number one consumer of children for sex.” 

The film is not easy to watch, but it has to be seen and heard - and believed. You can still watch this film in select theaters, or request it comes to a theater near you. You can also “pay forward” tickets to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to better understand this problem, recognize it, and take action to stop it. Ticket information is here. 

One of the most profound things Sister Mary Noel took from the film was the fact that a former major child sex perpetrator had a transformative experience that led him to rescuing children also - Hope that a change in heart is possible. “God’s Children are not for sale.”


Understanding the Scale of Modern Slavery

June 15, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The recently released 2023 Global Slavery Index provides an assessment of the extent to which a country’s population is vulnerable to modern slavery.

Modern slavery is hidden in plain sight and is deeply intertwined with life in every corner of the world. Each day, people are tricked, coerced, or forced into exploitative situations that they cannot refuse or leave. Each day, we buy the products or use the services they have been forced to make or offer without realizing the hidden human cost. An estimated 50 million people were living in modern slavery on any given day in 2021, an increase of 10 million people since 2016.

Walk Free’s flagship report, the Global Slavery Index (GSI) provides national estimates of modern slavery for 160 countries. Since its last edition in 2018, the report estimates another 10 million people have become caught in modern slavery, taking the total to 50 million.

Not surprisingly, countries with poor records on human rights have the highest prevalence of modern slavery: North Korea, Eritrea, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.

But according to the index, when countries are evaluated on numbers alone, the world’s biggest democracy, India, has the most people trapped in modern slavery, followed by China, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Bangladesh and the United States. Read more or watch this video to understand the root causes of modern slavery.


“Sound of Freedom” Coming to a Theatre Near You!

June 15, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Sound of Freedom is based on the true story of a former US government agent, who quits his job to devote his life to rescuing children.

After rescuing a young boy from ruthless child traffickers, he learns the boy’s sister is still captive and decides to embark on a dangerous mission to save her.

Watch the movie trailer

Preorder Tickets

Read how the “Sound of Freedom” is making a difference here.

Do you know who else is making a difference? Catholic Sisters! Read the U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking June 2023 Monthly Reflection by Sister Sally Duffy, SC. It is bound to move you.


World Refugee Day is June 20

June 15, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The United Nations honors the strength and courage of refugees around the globe with World Refugee Day on June 20. Whoever, Whenever, Wherever, everyone has the universal right to seek safety. 

The UN 1951 Refugee Convention, also known as the Geneva Convention, and its 1967 Protocol, give rights to refugees built around the principle of non-refoulment - that refugees should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their lives or freedom. It also includes the refugees’ obligations to the host country. 

June 20th is World Refugee Day - an annual opportunity to recognize and celebrate our siblings around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. 

There are many ways you can learn more about the issues worldwide, advocate, and prayerfully support. 

Click here to download a reflection resource for World Refugee Day. 

Click here to urge Congress to support the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. 

Contact Congress for support of welcoming policies, such as the Refugee Protection Act and the Afghan Adjustment Act.

Follow the work of the UN Refugee Agency, also known as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Facebook -

The May 24, 2023 edition of the SSND Called to Action Season 3 podcast series on immigration explores the root causes of forced and voluntary migration. Check it out here.

All people deserve peace, safety, and protection. Show your solidarity with immigrants in Florida by signing this petition protesting Florida’s cruel xenophobic new bill. 


Area high school students raise awareness of human trafficking

June 01, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

Students around the United States had a chance to display their talent, earn cash prizes, and educate teens about human trafficking in a video contest, “What Would You Do?” In their May 10, 2023 press release, U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) announced the winners of their video contest. The second place winners were students 25 miles from Fond du Lac at Oshkosh North High School! Read this local news report and watch their award-winning video here:


CSA is a member organization of USCSAHT. To send a note of thanks and congratulations to all the staff and students involved in this important work, you can write to:

Angela Brown (film producer and English teacher)
Oshkosh North High School
1100 W. Smith Ave.
Oshkosh, WI 54901

160 million children are engaged in child labor

June 01, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

While significant progress has been made in reducing child labor over the last two decades, progress has slowed over time. Today, 160 million children are still engaged in child labor – some as young as age five. Government social protection systems are essential to fight poverty, vulnerability, and eradicate child labor. Social protection is both a human right and a potent policy tool to prevent families from resorting to child labor in times of crisis. According to a 2022 study, 12% of all those in forced labor are children. More than half of these children are in commercial sexual exploitation.

In April, the International Labour Organization (ILO) released an insightful series of interviews with their project partners to discuss each group's contributions to the fight against child labour across Africa. Watch the series here.

In March, they released this video on effective coverage for children; a global overview of recent developments in social protection systems for children, including social protection floors and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compassion International, a global non-profit, shared a video in 2022 that provides some insight into an increase in child labor that was recorded in a 2020 ILO report:



Breaking the Law Every Time I Drive

June 01, 2023
By Sr. Ruth Battaglia CSA

Imagine what it would be like if each time you drive your car to get groceries, go to work, keep a doctor’s appointment, drive for any reason at all, you fear being stopped by the police because you are breaking the law. The first time the police stop you, you may face a fine. Repeat offenses could mean incarceration and potentially being flagged to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Feel the stress of the risk and limitations placed upon you and your family. That is the reality in thirty-one of our nation’s states for people without a Social Security number, that is, residents of the United States who entered the country illegally.

At an April 10, 2023, Fond du Lac town hall Wisconsin Senator Dan Feyen and newly elected State Representative Jerry O‘Connor, were asked by Primitivo Torres, deputy operations director of the advocacy group Voces de la Frontera, Hiram Rabadan a Voces member and Latino community leader, and Sister Ruth Battaglia to support legislation that would provide driving permits to residents living here without legal documentation. Wisconsin governor Tony Evers tried to use the budgeting process to broaden driver’s license access three times. Each time the state legislature removed it, considering it a policy issue rather than a fiscal one. Therefore, the request by the three was for a stand-alone bill. 

Feyen and O’Connor, acknowledging the need for such permits, especially for agricultural workers, support a plan for issuing driving permits as long as they are easily distinguishable from drivers’ licenses used as IDs for voting or travel. They were not confident that their colleagues in the legislature would pass a bill. 

If you live in Wisconsin or one of the other thirty states that deny the privilege of driving to immigrants residing in the United States without legal documentation, I invite you to contact your state representatives and ask for a process leading to driving permits.

Read more on this topic:


Link between forced migration and human trafficking

May 18, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) and the National Advocacy of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, faith-based networks that work to end human trafficking, deplore the increase in human trafficking in the United States and around the world, some of which results from unprecedented forced migration, and is exacerbated by United States’ law and policy.  

At a time when a record number of people are on the move, the United States is woefully underprepared to address the threat human traffickers pose to those forced to leave their homes. 

While there is widespread consensus on the urgent need to combat human trafficking, there is little understanding of systemic, root causes, like forced migration, and the need to address the U.S. policies that may inadvertently facilitate the exploitation of migrants and immigrants by traffickers. 

Join a 60-minute virtual briefing on June 14 at 2 p.m. that will explore the dangerous link between forced migration and human trafficking. Hear first-hand accounts from a migrant survivor of human trafficking and women religious who accompany migrants facing dangers posed by human traffickers.  Listen as they share their experiences and use their expertise to illustrate the dangerous connection between forced migration and human trafficking.



Title 42 was lifted last week. What’s happening now?

May 18, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The Asylum Ban that went into effect May 11 has two components: a transit ban and an entry ban. 

  • The transit ban is essentially identical to those put in place by President Trump, which courts deemed illegal. It bars access to asylum for anyone who passed through another country on their way to the U.S. and did not request and get denied asylum there first.
  • The entry ban bars access to asylum for people who enter the U.S. between ports of entry, despite this being a legal way to reach U.S. territory to seek protection.
Who does the ban apply to? 

The ban applies to anyone who has passed through a third country on their way to the U.S. unless they present at the port of entry at an appointment scheduled through the CBPOne app. It can apply to anyone, but is likely to inflict disproportionate suffering on Black, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and disabled folks, as well as pregnant people and families fleeing persecution. It also applies to anyone who crosses the border between ports of entry.

What is the CBPOne app? 

The CBPOne app is the only way that people can access the asylum process now that Title 42 is lifted. It is a phone app people must use to schedule an appointment to present at a port of entry to begin the asylum process. 

However, any system that relies on an app to determine who has access to asylum and who doesn’t is inherently unfair and discriminatory. To get an appointment, one must have a strong, reliable internet connection; access to and be able to navigate a smartphone; be able not only to read, but to do so in one of the only four languages the app offers: English, Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, or Russian. They also must be lucky; there are exponentially more people seeking appointments than there are appointments available. It’s like trying to buy the winning lottery ticket, except it’s for your chance at life-saving protections. 

How are some groups responding?

The Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project  (FIRRP) provides free legal and social services to detained adults and children. They have a Border Action Team on the ground in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico to help people understand the new band. The FIRRP Communications Team partnered with the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS) and Welcome with Dignity to create resources to help migrants navigate interactions with the media so that people awaiting entry who are approached by reporters know their rights and how to protect themselves if sharing their stories. 

Sister Eileen Mahony, CSA, a volunteer aiding asylum seekers (guests) at Casa Alitas in Tucson, reports her firsthand experience, stating that, "on Friday, the day after Title 42 was lifted, 1,300 guests were received. On Tuesday, the 16th, 1,474 guests were received. Both days some were transferred to shelters in Phoenix due to the numbers. None have been “street released” to fend for themselves, something Casa Alitas aims to avoid. It should be noted that Casa Alitas only receives asylum-seekers who are accepted by Border Patrol. Many seekers are denied entrance due to the rules of the new ban."

Sister Eileen further describes, “the majority (approximately 60%) are still single males from India speaking Punjabi or Hindi. The second largest group which is anticipated to grow from its current approximately 20% is from Mauritania in northwest Africa speaking either Arabic or French. Today about 20% were Spanish-speaking families with young children from Chiapas, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia or Brazil. The volunteers and staff are best able to communicate with the Latin Americans. (For me this is a joy!)

"After being welcomed they are given water and food. Then they are Covid-screend or tested. Next they go through an intake (registration) process. Those individuals and their families who test Covid positive go to a waiting area to spend their quarantine in a special hotel. Those Covid negative enter the welcome center and begin to contact their families or sponsors.  Those who make same-day flight arrangements go directly to the airport. Those waiting to travel in 1-3 days stay at one of Casa Alitas' shelters.  Single males stay in the center of the current welcome center which has 300+ cots.  Families or single women go to one of the hotels. All these sites have staff to assist the guests with food, clothing, travel plans. The current large welcome center has special services including medical (in which I serve), support for victims of violence, and persons speaking indigenous languages.

"Most of the guests are quite overwhelmed when they arrive but fairly quickly begin to relax after speaking with their families and receiving support and services at Casa Alitas.

"To serve this group is both a challenge and a blessing. To repeat, all these guests have official immigration papers allowing them to enter the US and begin their asylum process.”

What can I do? 
  • Call your Senators, Representatives, and State Legislators. Make sure they know that protecting asylum seekers and immigrants is important to you. Ask them to focus on building a humane, fair, and dignified asylum system and to oppose Senate Bill 1473 and any other legislation that would end asylum as we know it.
  • Talk to your friends and family about this damaging rule. It betrays core American values: freedom and safety from persecution, welcoming those who seek protection, and the belief that immigrants make our country better.
  • Volunteer and donate to organizations working directly at the border, including:

CSA Sister prepares for hundreds of asylum-seeking guests daily

May 04, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

The Title 42 expulsion policy that was put in place in March 2020 to bar immigrants from entering the U.S., including those seeking asylum, will end on May 11, 2023. The Biden administration is making plans to send an additional 1,500 active-duty troops to the US-Mexico border in anticipation of an influx of migrants when the Title 42 public health authority expires next week. The troops are to serve in administrative roles and not perform any law enforcement function.

We pray they are as kind and welcoming as the staff and volunteers at Casa Alitas in Tucson. 

At the border and ready to welcome and serve, Sister Eileen Mahoney, CSA shares the reality of her mission there: “Casa Alitas, the center for asylum-seekers in Tucson sponsored by Catholic Community Services, currently has been receiving almost 500 new guests daily. Guests are brought by Border Patrol with official papers stating they have a right to be in the U.S. and apply for asylum.

The program began five years ago to assist primarily Central Americans arriving through the desert. Because of Title 42 restrictions as well as new limitations on permission enacted in December for guests from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua, the current arriving guest population is from different areas.  A few people with infants or little children still arrive from southern Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and Columbia. Most of these come by bus rather than trekking the desert as the earlier ones did. Some from Columbia arrive having traversed the treacherous Darien Pass into Panama.  For a few months about 80% of the arrivees have been single males from India, primarily Punjabis and Hindis. Since last month, guests have been arriving from Mauritania in  northwest Africa speaking either Arabic or French.  Many on our team of more than 800 volunteers as well as all the staff speak Spanish and some Portuguese.   The current population of arrivals from Africa and the Middle East reveal our cultural and linguistic limitations.   

Casa Alitas anticipates receiving 1,500 new arrivals daily mid-May with the lifting of Title 42. In anticipation, the Welcome Center has been relocated to a large former call center.  This center has 150 cots in the center of the building for single males planning to leave in the morning.  The facility has service areas all around the periphery of the center. The previous welcome center is now used for guests who have special medical or language needs and also for those who have lost their sponsors and need to stay longer. Three hotels are used for families awaiting money from their families to travel.  One of the hotels is for individuals or families who are Covid positive or present with other communicable diseases. Every guest is Covid tested, assisted with travel and clothing while being fed and housed. All with health concerns are assessed and assisted to be able to travel safely. For ongoing medical/health needs, they receive referrals for clinics as their destination.This center has received more than 200,00 guests and not one has been "released to the street" without assistance.” 

Sister Eileen ends to say, “The challenges in serving are overwhelming - as are the blessings!”


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James Place Ministries' Aid to Immigrants

April 06, 2023
By Sister Christi Ann Laudolff

Sister Christi Ann Laudolff talked with Kate Archer Kent on Wisconsin Public Radio on the morning of May 2, 2023 to share insights about her work and what inspires her to do it. You can listen to the interview here:

photo of sign at James Place

In the Epistle of St. James, there is a line that says it doesn’t do much good to say to someone, “Goodbye and good luck; keep warm and well fed,” if you do nothing to help the person. This is a foundation of the James Place Ministries of the Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, WI. One of the James Place ministries is the James Place Immigration Services with offices in Waukesha and the south side of Milwaukee.

When I arrived in Milwaukee searching for a volunteer ministry, I happened upon James Place through an online volunteer site. I called and much to my surprise and relief, people at James Place were doing what I had done at We Are One Family in Bisbee, Arizona. In both places, we provide people with immigration resources at an affordable rate for the poor.

James Place in Waukesha meets many DACA people who are renewing their status until a permanent solution is legislated by congress. In Milwaukee, our main service is to refugees of Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, (formerly Burma), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many other agencies have helped with the resettlement of the refugees and their families. After one year in the United States, the refugees can apply for lawful permanent residence. Four years later, if they meet the civics, history, and language requirements, they can apply for naturalization and become citizens here.  

As of January 6, people from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela can apply for a two year period of parole in the United States, due to upheaval in their own countries. Many of these people have also graced our office.

When people come to James Place, our mission is to build a relationship with them and to be a presence of Christ to the people. Hopefully, our presence and demeanor will preach more forcefully than anything we say.

There may be immigrants or refugees in your locale who need a variety of services. Check with your local service agencies and churches to find ways that you may be able to help people at a very vulnerable time in their lives.

DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking Releases FY22 Annual Report

April 06, 2023
By Tracy Abler, Justice Coordinator

As a global leader in the fight against human trafficking, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security works to end sex trafficking and forced labor through a wide range of efforts including victim identification and assistance, criminal investigations, civil enforcement actions, intelligence and analysis, training and public education, and external outreach.

On March 28, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the second Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT) Annual Report, outlining the Department’s achievements in combatting human trafficking during the previous fiscal year (FY).

The Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes stands in solidarity with the victims of human trafficking and took a corporate stance against the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation in January 2007. The CSA Associate Community affirmed this stance in November 2022. We find the DHS report encouraging in that combating trafficking is a top priority of theirs. We hope all will take some time to review the findings in this 26-page report.

Sisters and staff at the Motherhouse and Nazareth Court and Center participated in #WearBlueDay 1/11/23 to help bring awareness to human trafficking.

photo of sisters wearing bluephoto of sisters wearing blue


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