USCCB STATEMENT from Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
On June 14th at the Conference of U.S. Catholic Bishops in Fort Lauderdale, the bishops supported a statement expressing strong opposition to the current Administration's policies on immigration, especially in relation to separating children from families and refusing asylum to women seeking refuge from domestic violence. Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, though not present at the conference, issued a statement saying that "the moral challenge of immigration is mounting for the United States. On too many occasions our government has taken a posture and established policy which is in principle and practice hostile to children and families who are fleeing violence, gangs, and poverty. The United States is openly before the world using children as pawns to enforce a hostile immigration policy. The strategy is morally unacceptable and denies the clear danger weighing upon those seeking our assistance." David Cardinal DiNardo spoke out saying, "Unless overturned the decision (the current immigration policy) will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policymakers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to live." As Benedictine Sisters, we strongly support the Bishops' statement. It is our moral responsibility to speak out against laws which do not respect the rights of families to be together or to find asylum from oppressive situations. We strongly urge you to call your legislators in support of just immigration policy reform.
Read full statement HERE.
LCWR Calls for Justice for Immigrant Families
Persistent pressure by the public, especially by the faith community, persuaded President Trump to sign an executive order on June 20 reversing his administration’s practice of forcibly separating children from their parents at the US southern border. Unfortunately, his action does little to address the crisis his own administration has created. The president’s executive order simply trades family separation for the indefinite incarceration of immigrant families. Instead of protecting children, the president has directed his administration to jail them along with their parents in prison-like conditions. In early May, Trump administration attorney general Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy that requires the criminal prosecution of all border-crossers, including asylum seeking families and children. The administration claims that this measure will deter families from fleeing to the United States, but there is little evidence to suggest that the policy will actually stop families fleeing danger and death in their home countries. The executive order does nothing to end General Session’s zero-tolerance policy or ameliorate its harm. As long as the administration chooses to criminally prosecute 100% of parents, children will have to be separated from, or indefinitely incarcerated with, their parents. The order fails to include a plan to reunite the children already in government custody with their parents and it directs the Justice Department to seek to remove the child welfare protections laid out in the 1997 Flores agreement. Immigrant and human rights advocates have pointed out that the administration’s claim that detention is the only way to ensure that those crossing the border without authorization will appear for their immigration hearings is simply wrong. There are viable alternatives to detention including intensive case management programs that have a proven track record. Their clients show up for their court dates 97% of the time. The policy has already had heartbreaking results. Between May and June 20 approximately 2300 children who arrived at the southern border were separated from their parents. While family separation at the border is not an entirely new phenomenon, these numbers are unprecedented. Opposition by some members of Congress has been swift. Democratic members of both the Senate and House quickly introduced legislation to keep families together. Immigrant advocates and faith leaders, including LCWR, have strongly condemned the Trump administration policy of separating families. As LCWR president Teresa Maya, CCVI put it in a joint interfaith press statement on May 31: As women of faith, as Catholic sisters, we strongly oppose the Trump administration’s decision to forcibly separate parents from their children in an effort to punish families seeking safety in the United States. Mothers and fathers are taking tremendous risks to bring their children to safety. These are families fleeing violence and death in their home countries. They have every right to ask for protection in the United States and the Trump administration is legally and morally obligated to give them a fair chance to seek asylum. It is impossible to imagine the fear of a child being ripped from the arms of her mother or the pain of a father watching a stranger take his son. It is cruel and inhumane and it must stop. Our faith demands it and our national values require it. We are better than this. Advocates have made it clear that they will continue to seek justice for immigrant families including putting an end to the zero-tolerance policy, closing family detention centers, and ensuring the reunification of every single family.