Bishops Weisenburger and Kicanas: Time to Speak Up for Immigrants

Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas and Bishop Edward Weisenburger of the Diocese of Tucson write:

As we begin a new year, fears continue to grow for legal immigrants, as the administration rescinds protections that had been extended to them by previous presidents. Not only is the current administration set on deporting undocumented immigrants with equities, it is also focused upon deporting immigrants with legal status conferred under U.S. law.

Most recently, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), part of a federal law passed in 1990, has been terminated for the 200,000 Salvadorans, as it has been for Haitians and Nicaraguans. These groups came to the United States amid dangerous armed conflicts, environmental disasters or widespread epidemics in their countries.

Salvadorans were granted TPS protection, which defers deportation and grants work authorization, because of the 2001 earthquakes that devastated the area and killed more than 1,000 people. In their years in the United States they have planted roots, bore children and been contributing members of our society. According to the Center for Migration Studies of New York, nearly 90 percent are employed and close to a third of now-US based Salvadorans own homes. They have 192,000 US-citizen children.

Now these families are in danger of being separated and possibly returned to countries still struggling with dangerous violence and instability….

We have seen the good will and heroic efforts of Americans who helped people involved in devastating natural disasters in our country. We believe that these same Americans, good Samaritans, would support protecting vulnerable populations and not returning them to dangerous situations. We believe they would welcome with open arms people that have been traumatized and applaud the “dreamers” who want to be contributing members in our communities.