A Catholic Response to the Travel Ban
By Julia DiSalvo
The recent executive order commonly known as the “Muslim ban” has left countless refugees and their families hanging on to fate. Jessica Mayo, co-founder and co-director of the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project, is there to reach out to these dear neighbors with support and a caring hand.
“It’s almost cliché to mention that the Bible tells us to ‘welcome the stranger,’” she reflects. “I have no more value or right to security than someone who was born on the other side of a human-made border.” To that end, she and MICA co-founder Nicole Cortés have provided low-cost legal services, advocacy and education to immigrant communities since its inception in 2012.
“People wrongly assume that if undocumented individuals tried, they could obtain legal status,” she explains, “and that if someone were truly in danger, the United States would not deport someone. This is not true. Asylum law is very limited. Vetting is already extremely intense.” Mayo knows from studies and experiences that those seeking refugee status pose virtually no threat and often contribute to the domestic economy and society at large. They come from a wide range of socioeconomic and educational backgrounds yet face meeting basic needs because of their unique challenges and lack of access to public benefits.
Now in the wake of three executive orders on immigration—the travel ban being just one—signed by President Donald J. Trump, enforcement is likely to increase and endanger the livelihoods and very lives of these families. MICA is responding with community presentations and workshops to prepare immigrant communities for raids and guide them through the legal confusion. It urges non-immigrants to attend these and similar events to raise consciousness and be a sign of solidarity during these potentially dividing times.
Mayo’s next presentation on these issues will be Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Welcoming the Stranger event, a series on immigration hosted by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. It will include a brief introduction to immigration law, the potential implications of the current executive orders, client stories and a question-and-answer session. See below for more event details.
Mayo is a lawyer, an associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a wife and a mother of two. Her home and MICA are based in St. Louis. The congregation has recently released its opposition to the executive orders.
Welcoming the Stranger Event Series
Join us for parts two and three of our three-part series about the experience of immigrants and refugees. Sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Justice Office.
Part 2: Here at Home
Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Associate Jessica Mayo will tell the stories of immigrants and refugees seeking legal assistance from the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action (MICA) Project.
Part 3: On the Road to Citizenship
Tuesday, March 21 at 6:30 p.m.
An International Institute speaker will explain the process for obtaining refugee status and a refugee will share his experience of settling in St. Louis.
Both events will be held at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Motherhouse, located in South St. Louis at 6400 Minnesota Ave.
RSVP to 314-481-8800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.