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U.S. Bishops Respond to Trump’s Call For National Guard Troops

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April 12, 2018

In response to President Trump’s call last week for National Guard troops to police in four southern states that share borders with Mexico, U.S. Bishops throughout the country issued statements criticizing the plan and calling for thoughtful immigration reform.

Last week, Catholic Bishops of the southern border states expressed their concern in a statement saying “The continued militarization of the U.S./Mexico Border distorts the reality of life on the border; this is not a war zone but instead is comprised of many peaceful and law-abiding communities that are also generous in their response to human suffering.”

The Most Rev. Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, who also serves as president of the California Catholic Conference, issued a statement on behalf of the California Catholic Conference.

“Attempts to fix a broken immigration system using the National Guard are the result of a failure to govern by both executive and legislative branches in Washington.  Calling up the good people of the National Guard – the first responders when our communities face disasters – unwisely expends their goodwill and limited resources pandering to nativist fears and hatreds,” Soto said.

After a week of no response, Governor Jerry Brown announced on Wednesday that he would comply with the Administration’s request but that the California Guard would not be patrolling the border.  Instead, the 400 men and women deployed will be involved in drug interdiction and smuggling prevention.

In his letter to the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary, he quoted the border bishops statement: “I agree with the Catholic Bishops who have said that local, state and federal officials should 'work collaboratively and prudently in the implementation of this deployment, ensuring that the presence of the National Guard is measured and not disruptive to community life.’”

Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, also issued a statement echoing the sentiments of the border bishops and petitioning that, “Our faith calls us to respond with compassion to those who suffer and seek safe haven; we ask our government to do the same as it seeks to safely and humanely secure the border."