Cardinal Joe: Trump’s Immoral Wall Threatens Lives, Is Based on Lies and Anti-Immigrant Agenda

Cardinal Joseph Tobin writes:

A wall would probably drive them into more remote areas of the desert or mountains, possibly to their deaths, as the forces driving them — violence, persecution and extreme poverty — are more life threatening than a risky border crossing. In fact, close to 8,000 migrants have died in Arizona and parts of Texas since the construction of the San Diego and El Paso sectors of the wall in the mid-1990s.

The latest arrivals at our border are primarily asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle of Central America, who, when they cross the border and ask for protection, are in compliance with both our domestic and our international laws — the Refugee Act of 1980 and the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and its 1967 protocols.

A wall would prevent asylum seekers from asking for protection at any point along our border — their right under the law — and would leave many of them at the mercy of drug cartels and other criminal groups in northern Mexico. More humane ways to achieve border security can be found to avoid these harmful consequences, through technology, additional legal avenues for entry and policies that address the factors pushing migration….

Other policies his administration has pursued, including family separation, the rollback of asylum laws, family detention, the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and termination of Temporary Protected Status for most of its beneficiaries, show that the administration’s intent is to rid the United States of as many immigrants — legal or otherwise — as possible….

His justification for the wall is based upon lies and smears against the vast majority of immigrants who are law-abiding and moral, but whom he paints as less than human.

Bishop Stowe: Pro-Lifers Should Not Sport Slogans of President Who Denigrates and Endangers Immigrants

Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky writes:

I am ashamed that the actions of Kentucky Catholic high school students have become a contradiction of the very reverence for human life that the march is supposed to manifest. As such, I believe that U.S. Catholics must take a look at how our support of the fundamental right to life has become separated from the even more basic truth of the dignity of each human person.

Without engaging the discussion about the context of the viral video or placing the blame entirely on these adolescents, it astonishes me that any students participating in a pro-life activity on behalf of their school and their Catholic faith could be wearing apparel sporting the slogans of a president who denigrates the lives of immigrants, refugees and people from countries that he describes with indecent words and haphazardly endangers with life-threatening policies.

We cannot uncritically ally ourselves with someone with whom we share the policy goal of ending abortion…

Respect for the sanctity of human life included the promotion of all that is necessary for all humanity to flourish. While the church’s opposition to abortion has been steadfast, it has become a stand-alone issue for many and has become disconnected to other issues of human dignity.

This past November, the U.S. Catholic bishops issued their first pastoral letter on racism since 1979…. The pastoral letter describes racism as a “life” issue; that perspective needs to become part of our educational curriculum. Students must grapple with this history and ask themselves how they are going to live differently….

The pro-life movement claims that it wants more than the policy change of making abortion illegal, but aims to make it unthinkable. That would require deep changes in society and policies that would support those who find it difficult to afford children. The association of our young people with racist acts and a politics of hate must also become unthinkable.

Cardinal Tobin Rips Trump’s Dishonest, Dehumanizing Anti-Immigrant Speech

Cardinal Joseph Tobin released the following statement on President Trump’s speech on Tuesday night:

I listened with deep disappointment to the dehumanizing words used to describe our immigrant sisters and brothers. These men, women and children are neither numbers, nor criminal statistics, but flesh and blood people with their own stories and histories. Most are fleeing human misery and brutal violence that threatens their lives. False and fear-filled caricatures seek to provoke a sort of amnesia that would have this great nation deny our roots in immigrants and refugees.

Last June, Pope Francis said in an address at a conference on international migration: “We must move from considering others as threats to our comfort to valuing them as persons whose life experience and values can contribute greatly to the enrichment of our society.” Those coming to our borders seeking asylum or escaping crushing poverty are not pawns in a political debate, but rather the strangers and aliens our Scriptures constantly instruct us to welcome. As a Shepherd to God’s people in Northern New Jersey, I beg all our legislative leaders to come together for the common good. Work through your differences for the good of all. Lives literally depend upon it.


Pope Warns against Rising Nationalism, Defends Universal Human Rights and Migrants

via Vatican News:

It is clear, though, that relationships within the international community, and the multilateral system as a whole, are experiencing a period of difficulty, with the resurgence of nationalistic tendencies at odds with the vocation of the international Organizations to be a setting for dialogue and encounter for all countries.  This is partly due to a certain inability of the multilateral system to offer effective solutions to a number of long unresolved situations, like certain protracted conflicts, or to confront present challenges in a way satisfactory to all.  It is also in part the result of the development of national policies determined more by the search for a quick partisan consensus than by the patient pursuit of the common good by providing long-term answers.  It is likewise partially the outcome of the growing influence within the international Organizations of powers and interest groups that impose their own visions and ideas, sparking new forms of ideological colonization, often in disregard for the identity, dignity and sensitivities of peoples.  In part too, it is a consequence of the reaction in some parts of the world to a globalization that has in some respects developed in too rapid and disorderly a manner, resulting in a tension between globalization and local realities….

Some of these attitudes go back to the period between the two World Wars, when populist and nationalist demands proved more forceful than the activity of the League of Nations.  The reappearance of these impulses today is progressively weakening the multilateral system, resulting in a general lack of trust, a crisis of credibility in international political life, and a gradual marginalization of the most vulnerable members of the family of nations….

Peace is never a partial good, but one that embraces the entire human race.  Hence an essential aspect of good politics is the pursuit of the common good of all, insofar as it is “the good of all people and of the whole person”[4] and a condition of society that enables all individuals and the community as a whole to achieve their proper material and spiritual well-being….

Respect for the dignity of each human being is thus the indispensable premise for all truly peaceful coexistence, and law becomes the essential instrument for achieving social justice and nurturing fraternal bonds between peoples.  In this context, a fundamental role is played by the human rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose seventieth anniversary we recently celebrated.  The universal objective and rational nature of those rights ought rightly to be reaffirmed, lest there prevail partial and subjective visions of humanity that risk leading to new forms of inequality, injustice, discrimination and, in extreme cases, also new forms of violence and oppression….

Among the vulnerable of our time that the international community is called to defend are not only refugees but also migrants.  Once again, I appeal to governments to provide assistance to all those forced to emigrate on account of the scourge of poverty and various forms of violence and persecution, as well as natural catastrophes and climatic disturbances, and to facilitate measures aimed at permitting their social integration in the receiving countries….

Concern for those who are most vulnerable impels us also to reflect on another serious problem of our time, namely the condition of workers.  Unless adequately protected, work ceases to be a means of human self-realization and becomes a modern form of slavery.  A hundred years ago saw the establishment of the International Labour Organization, which has sought to promote suitable working conditions and to increase the dignity of workers themselves.  Faced with the challenges of our own time, first of all increased technological growth, which eliminates jobs, and the weakening of economic and social guarantees for workers, I express my hope that the International Labour Organization will continue to be, beyond partisan interests, an example of dialogue and concerted effort to achieve its lofty objectives….

Rethinking our common destiny in the present context also involves rethinking our relationship with our planet. This year too, immense distress and suffering caused by heavy rains, flooding, fires, earthquakes and drought have struck the inhabitants of different regions of the Americas and Southeast Asia.  Hence, among the issues urgently calling for an agreement within the international community are care for the environment and climate change.  In this regard, also in the light of the consensus reached at the recent international Conference on Climate Change (COP24) held in Katowice, I express my hope for a more decisive commitment on the part of states to strengthening cooperation for urgently combating the worrisome phenomenon of global warming.  The earth belongs to everyone, and the consequences of its exploitation affect all the peoples of the world, even if certain regions feel those consequences more dramatically….

On 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell.  Within a few months, an end would come to the last legacy of the Second World War: the painful division of Europe decided at Yalta and the Cold War.  The countries east of the Iron Curtain recovered freedom after decades of oppression, and many of them set out on the path that would lead to membership in the European Union.  In the present climate, marked by new centrifugal tendencies and the temptation to erect new curtains, may Europe not lose its awareness of the benefits – the first of which is peace – ushered in by the journey of friendship and rapprochement between peoples begun in the postwar period.

Catholic Leaders Denounce Unconscionable, Heartbreaking Decision to End TPS Designation for 200,000 Salvadorans

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Christopher White writes:

The U.S. bishops have termed the Trump administration’s decision not to renew the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation to El Salvador as “heartbreaking” and pledged to stand with Salvadoran TPS recipients as they risk being separated from their families and homes in the United States.

The decision, announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday, will force over 200,000 El Salvadorans to leave the United States or face potential deportation. DHS also announced that current TPS recipients would be allowed to stay in the U.S. until September 9, 2019 in order to make plans to return to their home country…

In an interview with Crux, Ashley Feasley, director of policy for the USCCB’s Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs said the decision on TPS is a continuation of a series of anti-immigrant policies put forth by the Trump administration.

“Today’s decision is upsetting as it seems to be a rejection of something that we know to be true – that there is extensive pervasive violence in El Salvador that currently threatens the safety of residents, and that sending people back to that will expose them to great danger – possibly even death,” said Feasley.

“It also continues a deeply disturbing pattern by this administration of eliminating existing humanitarian-based legal immigration programs that benefit hardworking immigrant families and young people who are attempting to follow our immigration laws,” she added.

A number of individual bishops have also responded to the decision:

Sister Patricia McDermott, President of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, also denounced the decision:

Today’s announcement by the Trump Administration to end immigration protections for over 200,000 Salvadoran nationals, many of whom have been living in the United States for close to 20 years, represents a cruel injustice and further disregard for our nation’s professed humanitarian values and moral obligation to defend the vulnerable. The decision also affects the estimated 192,700 US-born children whose parents are losing protection—parents who now face the torturous decision whether to return to El Salvador with their children, a country consumed in violence and massive poverty, or leave them in the U.S….

The Sisters of Mercy have been calling for an immediate end to the unjust and immoral treatment of migrants and refugees, recognizing that decades of failed U.S. political and economic policies have contributed to the reasons people have fled homelands. Rather than blaming migrants and fomenting anti-immigrant sentiment that divides our nation, the Sisters have called for an end to policies that dehumanize immigrants and refugees and lead to the separation of families.

Catholic Relief Services released the following statement:

We strongly condemn today’s decision to terminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador.

Terminating TPS will tear families apart; negatively affect communities both here in the United States and in El Salvador that depend on TPS holders for economic support; and undercut the United States’ goal to reduce poverty, decrease irregular migration and promote citizen security in the region. From our experience working with the Catholic Church and other local partners in El Salvador, the Salvadoran government does not have adequate humanitarian capacity to receive, protect, or integrate back into society safely this many people.

We call on Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to protect long-term TPS recipients, including 200,000 Salvadorans currently living in the United States. CRS will continue to stand with and advocate for Salvadoran TPS recipients as they face uncertain futures.

“Those protected by TPS until today are loving mothers and fathers to U.S.-born children, successful home and business owners and productive members of our communities and churches,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS vice president for Government Relations and Advocacy. “To terminate TPS is to disregard the potential human impact this decision could have on families and communities.”

Whole Life Pope Identifies Immigration as a Pro-life Issue

Christopher White writes:

During his in-flight press conference en route home from Colombia, the pope recalled that “I heard the president of the United States introduce himself as a ‘pro-life’ man.

“A good pro-lifer understands that family is the cradle of life, and that its unity must be defended,” the pope said.

The pope’s remarks came in response to questions regarding Trump’s recent decision to rescind the DACA program, which protects qualified immigrants from deportation – a move the pope says he hopes the president will “rethink.”

While some Republicans and Trump supporters have pushed back against the Pope’s whole life approach, including the highly partisan Susan B. Anthony List, others have emphasized how valuable this approach is, including Millennial writer Nichole Flores:

“I’m surprised that he would address the situation so directly. But I’m also not surprised, because it is an essential part of the pastoral and prophetic witness of the Catholic faith,” she told Crux.

For Flores, the Church’s ability to offer a consistent ethic of life has the capacity to convert skeptical hearts and minds.

“In order to make a moral case for one of these issues, we have to make the moral case for all of the issues,” she said.

“To sacrifice one for the sake of staying within the bounds of a particular political party’s orthodoxy really erodes our ground for speaking prophetically and pastorally to another issue. And it really erodes the ground of the pro-life movement to not defend the lives of immigrants,” she added.

Hope and Wisdom Prevail at Princeton Conference on Forced Migration

Who is the refugee? Who do I recognize myself to be when confronted with the refugee? How does the politicization of refugees hurt and help them? What responsibility do faith communities have to respond to this crisis? What concretely can we do to respond? These are a few of the burning questions tackled earlier this month at an international gathering of scholars, students, and representatives from the US State Department, the United Nations, and various charities, human rights groups, and faith communities convened by the Princeton University Office of Religious Life and the Community of Sant’Egidio.

The gathering’s panels and roundtable discussions ranged from topics including gender and migration, global citizenship in an era of nationalism, the religious experiences of refugees, the media and migration, and many more. In contrast with popular media coverage of immigration issues, which can often be sensationalist and fleeting, these conversations probed deeply into the history, causes, and long-term implications of the present refugee crisis. Some participants, like Jane Bloom of the International Catholic Migration Commission, pointed out that migration was a fraught issue long before Donald Trump issued his bombshell executive order. How will these new arrivals impact US security, economics, and culture? How does accepting refugees affect relations with their nations of origin? These are the questions that every administration has to navigate in the course of fulfilling its duty to protect American interests and sovereignty.

In another sense, however, the current crisis reflects an even older problem—as old as human society itself. Recent efforts to label refugees as a threat to national security or an economic burden are just one manifestation of humans’ psychological impulse to project internal conflict outward onto others and to “otherize” fellow human beings in response to the experience of fear and anxiety. At its roots, the current resistance to refugees is not just about terrorist attacks and tax dollars. More fundamentally it is a test of our ability to respond reasonably and compassionately in the face of our inner fears and anxieties.

While conference participants clearly recognized the staggering challenges and complexity of the refugee crisis, their conversations did not devolve into despairing or unproductive hand wringing. Far from it, this well-informed and highly motivated group of people reported how their institutions have sprung into action to meet the crisis head-on and identified additional steps that need to be taken. One basic measure that numerous presenters emphasized is educating the public about refugees in order to combat the stereotypes, misconceptions, and “alternative facts” that perpetuate fears about this vulnerable and diverse group of people. For example, contrary to many Americans’ belief that accepting refugees exposes the country to greater risks of violence, studies show that immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes than the general US population (and probably less so). Read More