During National Migration Week, the Church asks us to reflect on the conditions faced by migrants around the world. Traditionally, the Pope issues a statement for World Day of Migrants and Refugees but this year, at the request of bishops around the world, that day has been moved to September 29, the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Until then, here is a brief thought from Pope Francis’ 2018 message:
Pope Francis on Refugees
“Where is your brother?” the voice of his blood cries even to me, God says. This is not a question addressed to others: it is a question addressed to me, to you, to each one of us. These our brothers and sisters seeking to leave difficult situations in order to find a little serenity and peace, they seek a better place for themselves and for their families – but they found death. How many times to those who seek this not find understanding, do not find welcome, do not find solidarity! And their voices rise up even to God!
Learn More About Immigration
US Bishops' Statement
In this historic statement, the bishops of the United States and Mexico join together to examine the impact of migration on the social, political, and spiritual lives of both countries. Encouraged by the Holy Father's call for a new evangelization and greater unity between Catholics in this hemisphere, the bishops offer detailed guidance for all who minister to migrants-and concrete steps for improving pastoral experiences. The statement also offers policy recommendations to both nations that respect the dignity of the migrant.
"In solidarity, we will continue to advocate on your behalf for just and fair migration policies. We commit ourselves to animate communities of Christ’s disciples on both sides of the border so that yours is a journey of hope, not despair….."
Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey
US Catholic Bishops and Conference of Mexican Bishops, 2003.
Last month, the Trump Administration announced a dramatic change to long-standing definitions of what constitutes a “public charge” for legal immigration purposes. Bishop Vasquez, Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ migration committee said that the changes, if enacted, would “undercut decades of administrative policies and guidelines on how immigrants are treated…it is likely to prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare.”
Last week more than 1,600 migrant children were quietly moved during the night to a new tent facility in Tornillo Texas. After a national outcry over the separation of children and parents during the summer, the number of separated children remains high with no remedies in sight. Dr. Gráinne McEvoy, a regular contributor on the history of migration, looks at the ongoing situation:
“Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God.” - Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Migration
Last Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security released a proposed rule change to the inadmissibility on public charges ground which would impact immigrants attempting to change their immigration status. This rule does not apply to refugees or people granted asylum. A public charge is a term used by U.S. immigration officials to refer to a person who is or could become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence through certain public benefits. The proposed rule change would shift from considering only cash benefits to now considering noncash benefits.
“Who are we,” asked one detainee, “that the Church should visit us?”
That sentiment – one of humbleness and a longing for the Sacraments and fellowship – characterized a pastoral visit by seven California Bishops and others to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Adelanto, CA, last week.
More than 350 men and women housed in the high desert facility attended four Masses, flocked to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Spanish, English and Vietnamese and enjoyed fellowship with the delegation of twenty.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has been the subject of much discussion, by politicians, policy experts, academics, journalists and others, since it was announced in June, 2012 by President Barack Obama. While critics of the program have warned of it as an exercise in executive overreach and a violation of the rule of law, its supporters have defended it as a reasonable, compassionate concession, one which enjoys overwhelming public support, until lawmakers find a more permanent solution.
In an open letter to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that was printed this morning in the Bakersfield Californian, Catholic leaders in California urged Rep. McCarthy to allow a House vote on critical legislation that would prevent the deportation of young people who were brought into this country as minors, but who lack formal permission to remain in the United States.
In recent months, the federal government has chosen to reverse an almost 30-year-old asylum program, leaving roughly 300,000 current residents of the US vulnerable to deportation by early 2020.
(En Español) Roman Catholic Bishops from dioceses located on the United States and Mexico border recently issued a statement (https://tinyurl.com/border-statement) expressing their “deep concern” about the militarization of the border. Bishop Jaime Soto, from Sacramento and president of the California Catholic Conference, issued the following statement in solidarity with border bishops’ sentiments and the plight immigrants face in the nation today:
SAN DIEGO - In response to announcements regarding deploying the United States National Guard to the U.S./Mexico Border, the U.S. Catholic Bishops of the U.S./Mexico Border issued the following statement:
“We are deeply concerned by the announcement that the National Guard will be deployed on the U.S./Mexico Border. 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.