Immigration   Wed, May 01, 2019 08:39 AM

WASHINGTON, DC – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) will host a two-part briefing at Capitol Visitor's Center (SVC), Room 210, Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 1st, entitled Leading in the Americas: Addressing Root Causes of Migration and Meeting the Needs of Families in the U.S.  A panel of experts (see below) will discuss in depth how issues in Latin America impact our borders and communities in the United States and what needs to be done to support vulnerable children and families on both sides of the border.

Panel 1: Addressing the Root Causes of Migration, Time: 9:30 – 10:45 am

Moderator: Dan Restrepo, Senior Fellow, Center for America Progress, with panelists:

  • Rick Jones, Senior Technical Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean, Catholic Relief Services
  • Enrique Acevedo, News Anchor, Univision/ABC News
  • Adriana Beltrán, Director of Citizen Security, Washington Office on Latin America
  • Roberta S. Jacobson, Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group 
  • Veronica Zavala Lombardi, Mexico Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank


Panel 2: Meeting the Needs of Families in the US, Time: 11:00 – 12:15

Moderator: John Feeley, Univision, with panelists:

  • Luis Cardona, Administrator, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Positive Youth Development Program 
  • Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy, Office of Migration and Refugee Policy, USCCB
  • Maria Gomez, President and CEO, Mary’s Center
  • Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley

“As a country and especially as Latino-serving institutions, we cannot have a serious dialogue about our borders and communities in terms of immigration without a better understanding of the issues taking place in Latin America that are causing the exodus of desperate families and children simply trying to survive,” said Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of HHF.  “We are grateful for our great partners at CRS who have made it their mission to address critical issues in the home countries as well as bringing together Hispanic institutions, Congressional Staff and other leadership to better understand the root causes of migration.   

There is no region in the world that more directly affects day-to-day life in the United States than Latin America. History and on-going migration mean more than 54 million U.S. Latinos trace their heritage – to differing degrees of immediacy – to the rest of the Americas.  Deep historic, geographic, commercial, and familial ties mean that what happens in the rest of the Americas has profound implications throughout the United States and especially in Latino communities in every corner of the country. Although only part of the story of the diverse set of multi-generational Latino communities with varied experiences and ties to the rest of the Americas, it is impossible to understand today’s U.S. Latino experiences without understanding what is simultaneously happening across the Americas.

With ongoing conversations about foreign assistance, border security, and immigration reform, CRS and HHF convening on Capitol Hill is an opportunity to enhance the capacity for leadership to engage in an informed manner in the public debate to advocate for greater inclusion, empowerment, and advancement for the poor and vulnerable in our communities at home and abroad.

About CRS

Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States to serve World War II survivors in Europe. Since then, CRS has expanded in size to reach more than 127 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents.


Lydia Dibos

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is a 32-year-old nonprofit focused on education, workforce, leadership and culture. Visit