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Insights: Bill Targets Migrant Detention Centers; Before You Go

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June 28, 2019

Bill Aims to Increase Transparency at Migrant Detention Centers

It is no secret that conditions in Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) migrant detention camps in California and nationally have questionable living conditions. There have been consistent reports of human rights violations in overwhelmed detention facilities. According to NBC News, there have been 24 deaths in the last two years alone in these facilities.   

Reviews of the centers conducted by the California Attorney General (AG) has shown that available information regarding the treatment of immigration detainees in California is cursory and inconsistent. 

Now, Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D – Los Angeles) is seeking to create greater transparency and ultimately safety for those in detention centers through SB 622 – Dignity in Detention. This bill would ensure there is an immediate investigation when a death occurs in civil custody in California, including immigration detention.

According to Senator Durazo, these centers – like those in Adelanto, McFarland, and Holtville – subcontract all operations of the facilities, and fail to comply with the federally-developed ICE Operations Performance-Based National Detention Standards.

Common issues among a number of facilities include  language barriers, issues with access to medical and mental health care, obstacles to contacting family and other support systems, and barriers to adequate representation.  (See related story of the Bishops pastoral visit to one of these detention facilities last year.)

SB 622 would provide a first step in creating greater transparency in these centers, and take immediate action in the event of the death of a detainee. California authorities would be mandated to investigate the death, which up to this point is handled by several different agencies, all with separate reporting requirement.

The bill has cleared the Senate side and now sits with the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Stay with us for the latest and ways you can help move this bill forward.

 

Action Alerts Before You Leave

Before you head out on that well-deserved summer vacation or break, be sure to review the current list of action alerts from the CCC to let lawmakers hear the Catholic voice. The Legislature will break for summer recess July 12 and return August 12, but there is important work that will take place before legislators sign-off for the month.

Use the links below to quickly send letters and ensure that lawmakers hear from you on these vital bills.

 

U.S. Bishops Detail Accountability Reforms

Earlier this month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to on several proposals to hold bishops accountable for instances of sexual abuse of children or vulnerable persons, sexual misconduct, or the intentional mishandling of such cases. They also specifically committed to involving and utilizing lay professional experts and established a new, independent mechanism for the reporting of such cases.

The new system commits to the involvement of lay professionals, informs the person asserting an allegation of their rights, establishes a notification process for conflicts of interest, and ensures claims won’t result in prejudice, retaliation, or discrimination.

The new system builds on The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more commonly known as the Dallas Charter, which is a comprehensive set of procedures originally established by the USCCB in June 2002 for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. The Charter also includes guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. It was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018. 

This year’s review resulted in the new system, in which Bishops agreed that third-party, independent oversight is crucial in successfully uncovering, publicizing and punishing bishop misconduct.

Click here for more information on this new process.

 

Hundreds of Thousands Object to SB 360

The final count of letters from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles protesting SB 360 looks like it will total more than 100,000, while more than 19,000 letters have been collected by the Diocese of Sacramento. The Archdiocese of San Francisco has just shy of 18,000. Those are just some of the totals from dioceses around the state as they fight to maintain the seal of confession. 

The bill threatens to remove the right to privacy between a penitent and confessor during the Sacrament of Reconciliation and other spiritual counseling for priests and employees of the Church.

This tremendous outpouring could be amplified by sending a letter if you haven’t already done so. Tell you fellow parishioners as well.

SB 360 will be heard next in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on July 9 – when summer vacations are in full swing.   Check back with www.cacatholic.org or our social media platforms to keep up with developments.

 

Taking Action: Caring for our Common Home

Last week, the California Bishops released God Calls Us All to Care for Our Common Home, a pastoral statement in response to the growing ecological threats to our state.

In it, the Bishops challenge the people of California to appreciate the beauty of the state and to apply – both individually and collectively – the teachings of Laudato Si’ in safeguarding our natural gifts. Click here for a video on the calling.

There are several dioceses already employing green methods that are resulting in tremendous gains for the environment. One-third of the parishes, offices and facilities of the Diocese of Monterey have gone solar, and the counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz now draw on 100 percent carbon and nuclear-free energy largely thanks to efforts of local Catholics. The Diocese of Stockton has been tirelessly working for more than 10 years through its Environmental Justice Project to help steward God’s creation, focusing on recycling and energy efficiency.

These are just two of the inspirational ways that dioceses are heeding the call of the Bishops. We encourage you to connect with your local parish or diocese to put the Bishops’ call into action in the places closest to your own home.

 

There will be no issue next week because of the Independence Day Holiday.  Enjoy the celebration.

 

June 28, 2019
Vol. 12, No. 21

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