Many immigrants who have crossed the border illegally are using the addresses of Catholic Charities as their intended destinations in an effort to avoid deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
This makes it difficult for ICE to serve them with their initial immigration court summons, which is known as a Notice to Appear (NTA) and is what initiates deportation proceedings in immigration courts.
As a result, the court process is delayed and immigrants are able to temporarily avoid the initial steps in their deportation cases.
Both Catholic Charities and Homeland Security have acknowledged that this practice is occurring.
Catholic Charities has stated that it is a symptom of a “broken” immigration system, while Homeland Security has accepted responsibility for accepting any valid addresses provided by migrants. However, immigration officers have claimed that the nonprofit and migrants may be acting in concert to shield newcomers from deportation proceedings.
According to figures from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), tens of thousands of migrants each month are turning to Catholic Charities and other non-profit organizations in order to avoid the initial stages of deportation proceedings. Before being released, these migrants are asked for their intended destinations so that Notice to Appear (NTA) documents can be sent to initiate their deportation cases. However, in order to protect themselves from deportation, they are providing real addresses where they have no intention of living. This makes it difficult for ICE to follow up with an NTA and leads to delays in the court process, allowing the migrants to temporarily avoid deportation proceedings.
Catholic Charities, which became aware of this issue in April, has expressed concern about it. A spokesman for the organization stated, “The practice of misaddressing immigration documents places extreme burdens on asylum-seekers, nonprofit organizations and the U.S. courts.” Bill Gangluff, Chief Communications Officer at Catholic Charities USA, elaborated on the consequences of this practice, saying, “Incorrect addresses will cause those seeking asylum to miss court appearances and jeopardize their status because they may never receive their documents. It causes legal, logistical and resource concerns for Catholic Charities agencies. And it disrupts the docket by denying the court the ability to notify asylum-seekers about important court dates and proceedings.”
In an effort to address this issue, Catholic Charities wrote a letter to President Biden and top congressional leaders in September, demanding that Homeland Security stop using its addresses and also requesting additional federal funding to welcome the migrants it is helping. The organization stated, “DHS must stop listing Catholic Charities’ addresses on future documents without the entities’ expressed consent.” Catholic Charities has been in negotiations with Homeland Security and believes that the department is working on a solution. Some Catholic Charities agencies will return ICE’s documents, while others may flag them as “misaddressed” for the immigration court.