Friday, January 27, 2017

My kind of Catholic speaks about Trump's immigration executive orders

It's rightly said that "Catholic" means "everyone." This makes it hard to say there's a 'Catholic' stance on anything. Even what the Pope says can be subject to change. The church is large enough to hold lots of dissent. What about US immigration? Is there a "Catholic" approach?

Right now, there are lots of differing opinions. The USCCB--the US org of Catholic Bishops, who represent official leadership--agree that family separation is bad. But, they fall all over the spectrum of the topic of U.S. immigration reform and best how to do it.

Bishops can be a bit too deferential to political power for my personal taste. I look to NETWORK, the Roman Catholic social justice lobby, for guidance on political issues. Fortunately, Sr. Simone Campbell--commonly known as "the nun on the bus" and executive director of the center--issued a statement on January 25, immediately in response to Trump's executive orders:

“Catholic teaching is very clear: we are called to welcome the stranger. We are also called to love our neighbor. President Trump’s actions today are antithetical to our faith.

“When Nuns on the Bus visited the U.S. /Mexico border in 2014, we walked along the wall and listened to the stories of communities that have been torn apart for decades. That is the reality experienced by border communities: the wall is there and it affects the daily life and commerce of the people. Federal appropriations for border security have grown to $3.8 billion in FY2015, from $263 million in FY1990, and fencing exists for hundreds of miles along our southern-border.

Be aware: any fear-mongering done by Trump administration officials is based on ‘alternative facts’ and simply not the reality of our nation.

“President Trump’s attacks on Sanctuary Cities are also falsely motivated by fear: studies have shown that Sanctuary Cities are in fact safer. His executive order, if not found unconstitutional, would dismantle a faith-based tradition that supports the dignity of all people.

“Donald Trump need not be afraid of immigrants, refugees, and children.

“Unafraid, the Catholic Sisters and community of NETWORK Lobby will continue to do all we can to welcome refugees and immigrants in accordance with our core faith belief to welcome the stranger. As we anticipate additional executive actions in the coming days, aimed at Muslims, refugees, and DACA-recipients, Catholics in Congress would do well to remember what Pope Francis said when he addressed Congress, “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.” We call on Congress to do all they can to protect the vulnerable in our world, which include refugees, immigrants, and children.

“We also acknowledge that many people who will suffer as a result of President Trump’s actions are already our neighbors, positively contributing to our churches and our communities. While we wait for common-sense immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S., we urge Congress to pass safeguards like the BRIDGE Act. The BRIDGE Act is just one of many safeguards our community needs in an unstable Donald Trump presidency. We must do all we can to show love to our neighbors.”

Photo: By Bruce C. Cooper (Crop and remove persons in background) (Derivative Original Work by Thomas Altfather Good) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, January 26, 2017

How a Kino Border Initiative Volunteer Feels in Wake of Trump's Executive Orders

Refugee family--nothing to be afraid of here.
I reaffirm my commitment to work toward binational solidarity and humane, just and workable migration policies, especially considering President Trump’s executive actions that instead cause division, dehumanization, and injustice.

I'm deeply concerned about the Trump Administration’s plan to dramatically expand border enforcement, including hiring an additional 5000 agents. Every day I assist Mexican brothers and sisters who are deported to Nogales, Sonora. I see firsthand the suffering caused by dramatic increases in border policing.

One third of people surveyed in the KBI migrant assistance center have received degrading treatment or abuse when detained by US Border Patrol. In the past 14 months Kino filed 45 complaints on behalf of migrants who reported abuse. Dramatically and hastily expanding this agency without adequate training and accountability will just make the situation worse, not promote safety.

It's urgent that the US take responsibility to protect individuals fleeing violence. Every day, men, women and children are forced to leave their homes and arrive at the KBI aid center. For many, their only option to seek safety is to ask for asylum in the United States. The people who request asylum are already being routinely rejected by Customs and Border Protection officials, subject to harsh and unnecessarily prolonged detention, and given little access to due process in pursuing their legal claims. Trump’s executive orders will only make their situation worse. Our moral and religious principles--let alone our international obligations--require us to welcome people seeking protection.

Rather than focusing solely on security, our nation must recommit itself to work with our brothers and sisters in other countries to address the reasons people migrate in the first place. We need to examine the extreme poverty and violence that force people from their home communities.

In his address to the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis in 2015 invited us “to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome.” Working toward peace, justice, and prosperity is a challenging task, but that is our call. Let's abandon approaches that sow division and cause more suffering.

photo credit: KBI; text: taken from KBI press release 1/25/2017