The following appeared in the November-December 2013 issue of NewsNotes.

On Wednesday, November 13, the feast of St. Frances Cabrini, an Italian immigrant who became the first canonized U.S. citizen, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is sponsoring a national call-in day to Congress. On that day, callers from the U.S. using the toll-free number (855-589-5698) will hear a short recording instructing them to give the following message to their member of Congress: "Support a path to citizenship and oppose the SAFE Act." After the recording, callers will then be prompted to enter their zip code on their telephone keypad and will be connected directly to their representative’s D.C. office.

[The Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act, HR 2278, passed the House Judiciary Committee on June 18. Among other things, it would permit state and local law enforcement officers, untrained in federal immigration law, to issue an immigration hold and detain an individual indefinitely, resulting in prolonged detention for U.S. citizens and lawfully permanent residents. The proposed detention policy calls for an increased number of detention facilities, an increase in the population to be detained (including all individuals awaiting a decision for removal) and an increase in funding for state and local governments to detain individuals in local jails, at a total cost of nearly $1 billion per year. Provisions in the SAFE Act would criminalize religious leaders and houses of worship that provide humanitarian assistance to all persons regardless of immigration status. Section 314 of the SAFE Act would make it a crime to transport undocumented immigrants and "encourage or induce a person to reside in the United States" if that person lacks immigration status. The penalties for engaging in any of these activities are steep, ranging from three to 20 years in prison.]

The USCCB and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) will host a series of free webinars held the first four Fridays in November, 2-3:30 pm Eastern/11 am-12:30 pm Pacific.

These webinars are for immigrant and social justice advocates, legal service providers, faith leaders, community organizers, and others working with and on behalf of immigrants and will address the following important issues:

Comprehensive immigration reform 2013-2014: The road forward from the Church’s perspective, Nov. 1: This webinar will look at the legislation and politics which will shape the debate on immigration reform in the House of Representatives, explaining the Church’s position on individual bills.

Recent trends in state and local immigration enforcement, Nov. 8: This webinar will provide an overview of collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement agencies through the Criminal Alien Program, 287(g) Partnerships, and Secure Communities as well as the use of ICE detainers to identify potentially deportable individuals in state or local custody.

Immigration detention: Perspectives from D.C. and the field, Nov. 15: This webinar will address immigration detention, including the federal mandate requiring the detention of certain immigrants, the recent rise of immigration detention, and alternatives to detention. Additionally, the panel will include local perspectives on the effects of detention facilities on communities and how local stakeholders can help combat this national phenomenon.

State and local immigration laws: Recap of 2013 and outlook for 2014, Nov. 22: This webinar will review some of the anti-immigrant and pro-immigrant laws passed by states in 2013 on topics including state-issued identification and driver’s licenses, refugee resettlement, immigration enforcement, and access to higher education. Panelists will also address the state-level immigration policy outlook for 2014.