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Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran bishops visited with young mothers and children who have fled violence in their home countries and are now incarcerated at Dilley Detention Center in Dilley, Texas, on March 27. The faith leaders called upon the federal government to halt the practice of family detentions, citing the harmful effects on mothers, children and the moral character of society.
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, Texas, whose archdiocese includes Dilley, was joined by Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, and Bishop James Tamayo of Laredo, Texas. Bishops Michael Rinehart and H. Julian Gordy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also joined them on the visit. Since last summer, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has detained hundreds of families at detention centers in New Mexico, Texas, and Pennsylvania, under a new family detention policy aimed at families fleeing violence in Central America.
“After this visit, my primary question is: Why? Why do we feel compelled to place in detention such vulnerable individuals –traumatized young mothers with children fleeing persecution in their home countries?” said Archbishop García-Siller following the visit. “A great nation such as ours need not incarcerate the most vulnerable in the name of deterrence. The moral character of a society is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable in our midst. Our nation’s family detention policy is shameful and I implore our elected officials to end it.”
Bishop Elizondo, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, added: “The detention of families serves no purpose and undermines due process. It especially harms children, who experience emotional and psychological harm from detention. The policy is a stain on the administration’s record on immigration.”
Bishop James Tamayo of Laredo, Texas, said humane alternatives to detention exist and should be used for the population.
“The government should consider placing these families in humane alternatives to detention, where they could live in the community and access needed services, including legal representation,” Bishop Tamayo said. “The Church is ready to assist in this effort.”
Information on the USCCB position on family detention can be found on the USCCB website at:
Texas-Mexico Border Bishops Publish Pastoral Letter on Family Immigration December 3rd, 2013
In a new pastoral letter “Families Beyond Borders,” the Catholic bishops of the border region of Texas, New Mexico and Mexico humanize the immigration debate by placing it in a moral context with specific illustrations of struggling children and families.
“One of the Archbishops spoke emotionally about undocumented immigrant children, some as young as 5 years old, who brave the dangers of the desert and coyotes and hide from authorities as well as human traffickers in an attempt to reach the safety of a new home of hope.”
The bishops who worked on “Families Beyond Borders” represented the leadership of these dioceses and archdiocese: (From Texas) Amarillo, Brownsville, El Paso, Lubbock, San Angelo, and San Antonio (From New Mexico) The Diocese of Las Cruces. (From Mexico) Chihuaha, Ciudad Juárez, Cuahteoc-Madera, Matamoros, Monterrey, Nuevo Casas Grandes, Nuevo Laredo, Piedras Negras-Catedral Mártir, and Saltillo.
California Catholic Bishops Call for Immigration Reform May 3rd, 2013
Catholic Bishops in California have announced their support for immigration reform legislation, outlining key elements essential in any legislation to protect the rights of undocumented immigrant workers and their families in the U.S. The Most Rev. Gerald Wilkerson, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and president of the California Catholic Conference, released a statement on May 1 in recognition of the historic introduction of bipartisan immigration reform legislation in the US Senate. Rallies in support of immigration reform have been taking place throughout California.
Here is the full text of the Bishops’ statement:The California Catholic Conference of Bishops, in solidarity with all the bishops of the nation, applauds the introduction of U.S. Senate bipartisan legislation to reform the broken U.S. immigration system. Throughout our dioceses, as pastors called by the Good Shepherd to care for those in need, we are sharing our own immigration stories and teaching the principles found in our Catholic Social Teaching. For many years we have advocated for comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration laws. Our country has a right and responsibility to protect its borders, and effective immigration laws are part of that enforcement. Right now, however, the current system fails both the nation and those seeking to contribute to American society. We believe that the necessary elements for reform ought to include:
- An earned path to full legal status, and eventual citizenship, that is reasonable and attainable;
- Provision for immigrants brought here as minors to swiftly gain legal status to continue their education and enter the workforce;
- The reduction of immigration application backlogs so that families may be united more quickly;
- A temporary worker program that is safe, workable for families, and fair to all workers, immigrants and non-immigrants, alike;
- Restoration of due process protections restored for all immigrants involved with the immigration justice system;
- The protection of refugees and unaccompanied immigrant children; and
- A way of addressing the root causes of immigration.
Lenten Activities on Immigration Reform March 8th, 2011
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops invites you to pray, fast, learn, and advocate for just and humane immigration reform by committing to one or more of their suggested activities as part of your Lenten journey. Act in solidarity with immigrants and refugees by taking action with the Bishops’ 2011 Lenten Commitment for Reform.
Discouraged about the lack of progress towards immigration reform? Looking for suggestions for meaningful action? Please read the Bishops’ Lenten Commitment for Reform, and share this document widely.
Lift the Ban on Travel to Cuba, Argue Prominent Senator and Congressman November 17th, 2009
Legislation to abolish restrictions on travel to Cuba has been introduced in both chambers of Congress. This Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing examining the rationale for the travel ban
For some time now, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has urged Congress to pass legislation that would end travel restrictions to Cuba and encourage more contact between Cuban and American citizens.
U.S. Catholic Bishops Visit Zimbabwe and South Africa September 8th, 2009
A delegation of American Catholic bishops has recently visited the church in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola, Florida, and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, Utah visited Zimbabwe from August 26 to 28. They then traveled to South Africa where they stayed until September 6th, and where they were joined by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington D.C. The purpose of the delegation was to observe first-hand the important humanitarian aid work done by the Church, especially in fighting HIV/AIDS and poverty. The bishops are members of the USCCB Subcommittee on Africa. They visited church officials and projects funded by the Pastoral Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa which raises money in the US to help the Church in Africa.
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