USA projects


In North America, JRS is committed to supporting people who must endure immigration detention and deportation, a commitment expressed mainly through chaplaincy services, humanitarian aid and advocacy. Set up in 1983 to raise awareness and enlist volunteers, JRS/USA has focused on detention since the late 90s.

The number of detained 'non-citizens' in the US has grown dramatically, more than tripling over the past decade, with over a quarter of a million people incarcerated in prisons and detention centres nationwide in the course of a year. The majority of those detained have committed no criminal offence. Poverty or persecution has led them to overstay their visas or enter the country without documents. After living and working for years in the US, they must confront the real possibility of deportation. They face the frightening prospect of permanent separation from their children and the inability to support families who remain in the US.

For several years now, JRS has run a detention chaplaincy programme, which enables people of all faiths to have access to pastoral care and to religious services within their faith tradition. JRS chaplains and pastoral care workers also support those who find themselves in crisis. Programmes are under way in five major detention centres in Arizona, California, New York and Texas. One of the two programmes in California is a collaborative work. For JRS, this work is nothing less than a witness to God's presence in the centres.

In 2008, JRS USA expanded, becoming one of the founding partners of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a bi-national, collaborative ministry on the Arizona–Mexico border. The KBI offers emergency shelter, food and other support to migrants who have just been deported, in Nogales, Mexico. On the US side of the border, the KBI engages in research and community education.

Flowing from its service and accompaniment, JRS USA also works to reform policies that increasingly use detention as a means to manage irregular immigration. Acting on needs perceived, JRS leads efforts to ensure appropriate pastoral care is provided to detainees, and calls for improvements in US deportation practices.

The advocacy of JRS USA also has an international character, representing JRS offices abroad that serve refugees whose welfare is affected by US policies and programmes. One constant is the commitment to support the JRS Latin America and Caribbean region. 

In Canada, the mainstay of JRS activities in Québec and Toronto is awareness-raising and advocacy. In Toronto, JRS contributes to the work of Romero House, which supports newly arrived asylum seekers.

North America

The mission of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. 

To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. JRS advocates for just and generous policies and programs for the benefit of victims of forced displacement, so that those made vulnerable by exile can receive support and protection and durable solution to their plight can be achieved. 

JRS/USA witnesses to God’s presence in vulnerable and often forgotten people driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of their human rights.  

As one of the ten geographic regions of Jesuit Refugee Service, JRS/USA serves as the major refugee outreach arm of U.S. Jesuits and their institutional ministries, mobilizing their response to refugee situations in the U.S. and abroad. Through our advocacy and fund raising efforts, JRS/USA provides support for the work of JRS throughout the world.  

JRS/USA gives help, hope, ear and voice to vulnerable people on the move by being present to and bearing witness to their plight; by relieving their human suffering and restoring hope; by addressing the root causes of their displacement and improving international responses to refugee situations. 

In addition, JRS/USA inspires the Ignatian family and others to respond together to the needs of refugees and displaced persons worldwide and forges strong partnerships with like-minded institutions and agencies devoted to the cause of refugees and displaced persons.

JRS works in more than 45 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of nearly 760,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, more than half of whom are women. JRS services are available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.

In 2014, approximately 142,000 children, young people and adults received primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education services each year. JRS places the highest priority on ensuring a better future for refugees by investing heavily in education and training. Further, JRS undertakes advocacy to ensure all displaced children be provided with access to quality education. JRS services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. 

Our mailing address in the U.S. is
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
1016 16th St NW Ste 500
Washington, D.C. 20036

In Canada, JRS can be reached via email or post here:

Norbert Piché

Directeur national Service jésuite des réfugiés

Country Director Jesuit Refugee Service – Canada

25, rue Jarry Ouest

Montréal, Québec H2P 1S6

Phone: 514-387-2541 poste 265 

Canada: Why Canada should pull out of the Safe Third Country Agreement

Montreal, 1 March 2017 - Recently in the news, two men from Ghana lost their fingers to frostbite. They had crossed the Canadian-American border at Manitoba convinced that the United States would not grant them asylum. That day, it was -18°C without the wind factor. Those two men walked for hours in snow-filled fields. 

USA: Barring refugees is an affront to global and Christian values

30 January 2017 - The Jesuit Refugee Service challenges US President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States. 

USA: ‘Dear Pope Francis’ book sales benefit JRS programs around the world

Chicago, 13 December 2016 — Loyola Press had great success this year launching their book, Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World.  A portion of the book's sales are being donated to Jesuit Refugee Service/USA to support JRS global projects.

USA: Walking with Refugees Award Reception for Fr Ken Gavin SJ

Washington DC, 1 December 2016 - Fr. Kenneth J. Gavin S.J., Assistant International Director, will be honoured with the Grace Kobbe Tevis Award for Extraordinary Service at a special event in New York today.

USA: Robert Plant joins 'Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees'

Washington DC, 28 September 1016 - Robert Plant has confirmed that he will join Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller, The Milk Carton Kids, and more for select dates on the Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees tour in October.

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